Five Favorite, Five Least Favorite Features
Climb performance, speed and fuel efficiency ranked at the top of most operators' five favorite features.
“There are not too many guys up there at 45,000 [ft.],” says Jan Cooper, who flies s.n. 305, a 2006 model based at Centennial Airport near Denver. “It cruises at better than book speeds and it costs less per mile than a Citation Mustang or a Beech King Air 200,” says Bob Lowery, who flies s.n. 308, based at Gillette, Wyo. BCA's May 2012 Purchase Planning Handbook indicates that both the Citation Mustang and King Air 200GT have slightly better fuel efficiency on most trips. But overall operating costs of the CJ2+ could be less because it flies faster on virtually all missions and thus logs fewer engine and airframe hours, thereby reducing maintenance costs.
Operators also appreciate its sprightly airport performance. Taking off from a near sea-level, standard-day airport, such as San Diego Lindbergh Field on a cool winter day, the CJ2+ needs only 3,365 ft. of runway. Departing from BCA's 5,000-ft., ISA+20C airport, TOFL is only 5,180 ft. You can also depart Mexico City's Toluca Airport with four passengers on a 31C/88F day, using 7,000 ft. of runway, and fly more than 1,000 nm, enough to reach Oklahoma City. Key West, Fla.; or San Jose, Costa Rica.
ThePro Line 21 avionics suite ranked a close second to performance as favorite feature. Standard equipment includes three 8-by-10-in. portrait configuration LCD screens (two positioned as PFDs and one as an MFD), dual solid-state AHRS and dual digital air data computers, a single multi-sensor FMS-3000 with both lateral and vertical nav modes and a single FSU-5010 file server that supports the optional electronic charts package, plus enhanced map graphics including special-use airspace boundaries and XM satellite radio weather. Request/reply Universal Weather services using a VHF data link radio are optional.
Pilots say the aircraft has more usable payload than the CJ2 because maximum ZFW has been increased by 400 lb. and MTOW has been raised 125 lb. “It has a decent tanks full payload,” says Cooper. They also say its 15-cu.-ft., 400-lb. capacity forward and 50-cu.-ft., 1,000-lb. capacity aft baggage compartments provide ample storage room for six occupants.
The aircraft has docile handling manners, it's easy to fly and the cabin is quiet. It's comfortable enough for four passengers in the main four-chair club section of the cabin. But it's crowded if all six chairs in the main seating area are occupied. That's when CJ2+ operators wish they had the nearly extra 2 ft. of main seating area length offered by the CJ3.
Operators had a harder time naming five least favorite features. Most could only name two or three dislikes. Among these are tight access to the cockpit for tall pilots, noisy windshield defog bleed-air system and lack of a single-point pressure refueling system. Some also said they wish the aircraft had an electrically heated glass windshield, a functioning cockpit relief tube and an externally serviced lavatory toilet. They also wanted a sturdier, enclosed step air stair for the entry door, a feature that became optional on later units. Most of these perceived shortcomings first were introduced or corrected on the CJ4.
Pilots of aircraft equipped with the optional right front side-facing seat in place of the full-size galley often said their aircraft needed more food, beverage and trash storage capacity. Some also said they wished the aircraft had a little more range and a little higher Mmo redline. When cruising in the high thirties, they had to throttle back to avoid exceeding the Mach 0.737 redline.
Some operators also complained about inconsistent, grabby brakes. This especially is noisome on wet runways. Many who found the braking system troublesome also said they wished the aircraft had thrust reversers or thrust attenuators — a feature offered by the CJ1 and CJ2.
“They're just plain squirrelly compared to a CitationJet,” says Chris Wheeler, who flies s.n. 323. Stopping performance wasn't a problem for most people we contacted. “But the ABS [anti-skid braking] is outstanding,” Wheeler added.
Inconsistent temperature control throughout the cockpit and cabin is another concern voiced by many operators. They say it's difficult to modulate heating and cooling so that both pilots and passengers are comfortable. The aircraft has a single zone thermostat; therefore, heating and cooling airflows to the cockpit and cabin are difficult to modulate so that pilots and passengers are comfortable.