The Citation Longitude is just weeks away from certification, Textron Aviation officials said Oct. 15 at the National Business Aviation Association's annual convention.
The FAA’s final blessing of the aircraft has been on hold in recent months as the manufacturer sought a path forward through the complicated Part 25 certification process related to fuel tanks. The regulations changed following the TWA 800 crash that was caused by an explosion in a center fuel tank. The FAA has declared that the center section of the Longitude’s two-wing fuel tanks is similar enough to a center fuel tank that it must comply with the new regulations.
Certification will clear the way for fractional aircraft ownership program NetJets to formally place orders for some 175 Longitudes for delivery over the next 10 to 15 years; first deliveries to NetJets are expected at the end of 2019. The order was among several announced between NetJets and Textron, furthering a 30-plus-year relationship between the two companies that has included some 500 Cessna aircraft, beginning with the Citation S/II in 1984.
In addition to the Longitudes, NetJets announced that it will be the launch customer for the Citation Hemisphere, Textron’s first large-cabin aircraft. NetJets says it will order up to 150 of the big jets, which have a planned range of some 4,500 nautical miles and speeds up to Mach 0.90. No timeline for deliveries has been announced as powerplant manufacturer Safran works through a compressor problem identified a year ago on its cutting-edge Silvercrest engine designated for the Hemisphere. Textron Chairman, President, and CEO Scott Donnelly said he is confident that Safran will be able to solve the problem by mid-2019 when Textron expects to be able to announce a timeline for the airplane.
Meanwhile, NetJets is operating some 75 Latitudes, a slightly smaller airplane than the Longitude, and expects to be operating 100 by mid-2019.