A day ahead of the May 19 opening of the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition, Cessna Aircraft Co. and Beechcraft Corp. announced better-than-expected performance demonstrated in Citation Latitude flight tests, and new features for the venerable King Air series.
Textron Aviation Inc. subsidiary Cessna described FAA certification of the $16.25 million Citation Latitude as “imminent,” noting that the certification flight test program is now complete. Four aircraft logged 1,700 hours during 690 flights that demonstrated another 5-percent increase in range over initial projections: 2,850 nautical miles in long-range cruise, up 150 nm from prior estimates, and 350 nm better than estimated when the jet was first announced in 2011. The Latitude has a high-speed cruise range of 2,700 nm. Takeoff distance also improved, down to 3,580 feet from 3,660 feet.
The first production model of the nine-passenger Latitude rolled out in January, and will add another new aircraft to Cessna’s lineup that has been refreshed over the past 18 months following years of soft sales.
“The new Citation Latitude has been a performance winner from day one—meeting or exceeding every milestone in the certification effort and winning the attention of customers with its expansive, large cabin environment and amenities,” said Textron Aviation President & CEO Scott Ernest, in a news release. “Customers also appreciate the Latitude’s midsize acquisition price and up to 20 percent lower operating costs than competing aircraft.”
The Latitude stands to achieve certification on the heels of the Citation M2, Citation CJ3+, Citation Sovereign+, and Citation X+. Cessna is working to have the super-midsized Citation Longitude certified in 2017.
Fellow Textron Aviation subsidiary Beechcraft Corp. has been out of the jet business since emerging from bankruptcy in 2013 and the subsequent acquisition of the iconic brand by Textron left the King Air at the top of the Beechcraft line. Three models, the King Air 350i/ER ($7 million), the King Air 250 ($6 million), and the King Air C90GTx ($3.6 million) are being tested with new avionics: Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion panels that will be standard equipment on all three. Cabin upgrades include Wi-Fi (standard on the King Air 350i and 250 aircraft, optional on the C90GTx) and electronically dimmable windows, which allow passengers to adjust window tint with the push of a button.
“We’re improving the pilot and passenger experience in an already iconic line of business turboprops by incorporating the latest technology in the cockpit and the cabin,” said Christi Tannahill, Textron’s senior vice president of turboprop aircraft and interior design, in a news release.
The latest upgrades follow King Air performance enhancements announced in October.