December 23, 2013
By Alton K. Marsh
Textron, parent to Cessna Aircraft and Bell Helicopter, may no longer have to differentiate between who's been naughty and who's been nice in future quarterly reports. In 2013 earnings reports, Cessna officials must have envied the nearly always positive news from Bell Helicopter while reporting losses themselves that were promised to ease once delayed deliveries of the Citation Sovereign+ and Citation M2 begin.
Two days before Christmas, Cessna won FAA approval of the follow-on to the popular Sovereign introduced in 2004, clearing the way for deliveries. The 458-knot true airspeed jet (at top speed) has winglets, a range of 3,000 nautical miles (150 more miles than the older Sovereign), and the capability to make a direct climb to 45,000 feet without pausing to catch its breath by burning off fuel in steps on the way up. The Sovereign+ joins 349 standard Sovereigns already in the fleet.
Also approved by the FAA is the Citation M2 light jet, a follow-on to the Mustang that the Cessna marketing department later distanced from it. The original fuselage mockup had a Mustang horse painted on the side. The aircraft was announced in 2011 and first flown in March 2012.
The 400-knots-true-airspeed jet (at top speed) has a range of 1,300 nm and is certified for single-pilot operation, an important feature for the target market of small business owners. Small business owners have been slow to recover from the recession, holding back the small-jet market. The jet can operate from 3,250-foot-long runways. Two Williams FJ44 engines power it. A five-inch dropped aisle allows a cabin height of 57 inches. The launch customer is popular writer Stuart Woods.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
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