Cessna Aircraft, the oldest member of the Textron Aviation family, is rebounding as a result of streamlined manufacturing processes, supply chain cost controls and expedited development of new products.

That no-nonsense approach — credit Scott Ernest, president and CEO, who arrived in May 2011 with 29 years of management experience at GE Aviation — comes at a critical time in Cessna’s history. The Wichita firm was particularly hard hit by the Great Recession of 2008 because many of its older Citation models lost ground to newer competitors, particularly those built by Embraer. Ernest’s biggest challenge was to win back market share by bringing new aircraft to market while keeping tight reins on development costs.

Fortunately, Cessna was business aviation’s long-time master of iteration. It had a proven track record of developing low-risk, derivative models on lean budgets, making them more capable, more comfortable and less expensive to operate — thus boosting customer appeal.

No new Cessna better reflects the merits of this approach than the Citation M2. It’s the third iteration of the 1992 CitationJet. Compared to its predecessor, the CJ1+, it climbs to altitude more quickly, cruises faster and farther, has a considerably more capable avionics package and offers passengers a more comfortable cabin. Most importantly for market appeal, it’s 22 kt. faster than the CJ1+ and 53 kt. faster than the Embraer Phenom 100E at FL 410, assuming standard-day temperatures and 9,000-lb. cruise weights. In August, Textron Aviation announced a boost in maximum takeoff field elevation to 14,000 ft. The M2’s more-powerful Williams FJ44 turbofans are the reason. 

The M2 also is chock full of standard equipment. Unlike some competitors, it’s not sold as a stripped-down model that must be equipped with a laundry list of extra-cost options to meet most customers’ needs. The base M2 comes with seating for eight occupants, including a side-facing seat across from the entry door and a belted lavatory seat.

The new avionics package includes a 40-watt, solid-state weather radar, electronic charts, a single Rockwell Collins DME and radio altimeter, and TCAS I, plus dual Mode S extended squitter ADS-B Out transponders, CVR, a dispatch switch that only powers the comm 1 VHF and FMS for pre-start preparations, and an integrated maintenance diagnostics system that monitors avionics, engines and aircraft systems. Also included are an angle-of-attack (AOA) indicator on the PFD, logo lights, pulsing landing lights, locking fuel caps and two active noise reduction cockpit headsets.

The main options are synthetic vision for the PFDs, an XM satellite radio weather and entertainment receiver, a larger capacity galley, L-3 Communications Stormscope lightning detector and SafeFlight AOA indexer. Top-end equipment includes an available Doppler turbulence detection radar, TCAS II and VHF data-link radio for Europe’s Link 2000+ and digital clearance prior to taxi.

The M2, as a result, is luring considerably more buyers than some competitors. In 2014, the first full year of production, Textron delivered 60 aircraft. With 13 aircraft going to customers in 2013 and more than two dozen delivered to date in 2015, there now are more than 75 aircraft in the fleet.

That’s an impressive record for a low-risk, lean-budget derivative’s entry into what’s still a tepid market. Many times, clean-sheet designs get all the attention. With this aircraft, it was attention to detail that mattered.

Structure, Systems and Passenger Amenities

Little has changed in the M2’s airframe compared to the original CitationJet. It retains the 58-in. inside diameter, circular cross-section fuselage of the original 1971 Citation 500, a semi-monocoque structure fabricated from conventional aluminum alloys, using rivets, fasteners and adhesive bonding. Composites are used to save weight in fairings, the nose radome and other non-load-bearing components.

The newest model also retains the CitationJet’s modified NASA high-speed natural laminar flow 0213 airfoil that sustains laminar boundary flow to about 30% chord on the upper surface. Compared to the Citation 500’s NACA 23000-series wing, the 525’s airfoil has 10 to 15% better lift-to-drag characteristics and it has a smaller area. The wing features relatively thick skins, conventional ladder innards including front and rear spars, chord-wise ribs and an aft sub spar to help support the main landing gear. Small winglets increase overall span by 4 in., but they have little aerodynamic effect. Due to minor tank modifications, fuel capacity is increased slightly from 3,220 lb. in the CJ1+ to 3,296 lb. in the M2.

The wing is mounted below the fuselage, with the center section encased in a large fairing to reduce interference drag. Similarly, the engines are mounted high on the tail to minimize interference drag with the top surface of the wing. The T-tail configuration virtually eliminates wing downwash influencing the airflow over the horizontal tail.

The electrical system has been changed to include a second battery, rated at 16 amp-hours, in the nose. During start, it provides a separate, uninterrupted power supply for the avionics. This eliminates the need for an avionics power switch. It also provides emergency electrical power in the event of dual generator failure. After start, the forward battery is linked in parallel with the main 44-amp-hour battery in the aft section of the aircraft.

Two 28.5-volt, 300-amp starter-generators power the DC electrical system. Automatic load shedding disconnects the vapor-cycle air conditioner, among other nonessential systems, in the event of a single or dual generator failure.

All fuel is stored in left and right wing tanks with over-wing refueling ports. When the engines are running, part of the high-pressure output from the engine-driven fuel pumps is ported to jet pumps in the wing tank fuel sumps that supply the engines, plus scavenge jet pumps that transfer fuel to the sumps. DC boost pumps in the sumps provide fuel pressure for engine start, cross-feed and backup for the main jet pumps.

The M2 retains the original Citation 500’s well-proven, open center 1,500-psi hydraulic system powered by left and right engine-driven pumps. Hydraulic fluid constantly circulates throughout the system at low pressure through an open bypass valve. When hydraulic power is needed for landing gear, speed brake or flap operation, the bypass valve closes and the system momentarily pressurizes to 1,500 psi while components are in motion. Once the desired action is complete, the bypass valve opens and the system reverts to low-pressure circulation.

A separate DC hydraulic power pack provides pressure to operate the wheel brakes and anti-skid system. A pneumatic bottle provides pressure for emergency landing gear extension and wheel braking.

The cabin features an automatic pressurization controller that provides up to 8.5 psi of differential pressure, sufficient to maintain an 8,000-ft. cabin altitude at FL 410, the aircraft’s maximum cruise altitude. The DC-powered, vapor-cycle air conditioner may be operated anytime in flight or by the right generator or GPU on the ground. Thus, the cabin can be cooled on the ground prior to engine start. The interior has single-zone temperature control, but a five-position flow divider enables the crew to modulate the temperature of the cabin separately from the cockpit. A 50-cu.-ft. oxygen bottle is standard.

Engine bleed air is used for cabin heating, along with wing leading edge, pylon inlet, windshield and engine inlet anti-icing, plus horizontal tail deice boot actuation, along with main entry door seal inflation and hydraulic reservoir pressurization.

All exterior lights are LEDs, including the landing lights, nav, strobe and anti-collision lights, escape route lights and wing leading edge illumination lights. Unless they’re mechanically damaged, these lights most likely will last throughout the service life of the aircraft.

The M2’s cabin cross-section is smaller than those of some entry-level jets and the floor is narrower. But the interior has been completely redesigned to make it more functional, comfortable and space efficient. The cabin window reveals, for instance, have been flattened to allow more ambient light to flood the interior from the 11-in.-wide by 15-in.-tall transparencies. The seats have retractable inboard armrests to provide easier passage through the aisle. The four club chairs have tilt, swivel, lateral and fore/aft track adjustments. Left- and right-side, foldout worktables may be extended between pairs of facing club chairs. There are left- and right-side 110-volt AC power outlets, below the worktable pockets in the sidewalls, supplied by a 500-watt inverter. A 1,200-watt AC inverter ($5,200, 3.9 lb.) is optional.

There also are USB charging ports and audio jacks. Each passenger seat has an air outlet, LED reading light and oxygen mask in the overhead.

The standard left-side refreshment center, located ahead of the entry door, has an ice bin, beverage storage and a trash container. An optional refreshment center ($3,500, 15.4 lb.) has a top-mounted hot pot for beverages.

A forward storage closet ($36,150, 17.8 lb.) may be substituted for the forward, side-facing seat. A privacy curtain is provided for the lavatory, but dual aft bulkheads with pocket doors ($30,800, 41.3 lb.) are optional. The left-side, flushing but internally serviced toilet has a belted seat approved for full-time use.

We were unable to measure interior sound levels at cruise, but subjectively the M2 appears to have one of the quietest cabins in the entry-level turbine aircraft class. Notably, interior fit and finish, including cabinetry, tables, sidewalls and leathers, are top notch, befitting a $4.5 million business aircraft. In our opinion, interior quality is unmatched in this class of aircraft.

Two external baggage compartments have a combined 43.1-cu.-ft. capacity, one-quarter less than some competitors. But the forward 12.7-cu.-ft. compartment in the nose has a 400-lb. capacity and the aft 30.2-ft. compartment, available with an optional ski tube, has a 325-lb. capacity. In contrast, the Phenom 100E has a 7-cu.-ft. forward baggage compartment and a 53-cu.-ft. aft baggage compartment.

Let’s Go Flying

We strapped into the left seat of 525-0824, a 2014 M2 used as a factory demonstrator, with demonstration pilot Jeremy Schrag and Brian Dierks riding along as safety pilot. Serial number 824 is equipped with optional synthetic vision ($26,550), VHF data-link radio ($23,700, 5.7 lb.), XM satellite radio weather and entertainment receiver ($11,500, 2.6 lb.), sheepskin-covered crew seats ($600), Iridium satcom phone ports ($13,700, 2.5 lb.), airstair style main-door entry steps ($12,500, 12.7 lb.); vinyl center aisle runner ($550) and passenger life vests (N/C; 9.4 lb.). These upgrades added $89,100 to the purchase price, but less than 33 lb. to aircraft empty weight.

First impressions? It’s a lot easier to climb into the cockpit because the M2 has a shorter center console and the crew chair seat cushions are beveled, thereby making room to slide one’s leg into the footwell. The cockpit is typically new generation Garmin. Three 14.1-in., portrait configuration, WXGA screens dominate the instrument panel. Each of the three screens may be split, so six or more windows of information may be displayed. The relatively large size of the screens also allows retention of all important indications if one of the three displays fails.

Citation M2 Specifications

B&CA Equipped Price    $4,500,000

 

Characteristics

Wing Loading    44.6/58.2

Power Loading    2.72

Noise (EPNdB)    73.5/85.2/88.5

 

Seating    1+7/7

 

Dimensions (ft./m)

External

Length    42.6/12.98

Height    13.9/4.24

Span    47.3/14.42

Internal (ft./m)

Length    11.0/3.4

Height    4.8/1.5

Width (maximum)    4.8/1.5

Width (floor)    3.1/0.9

 

Thrust

Engine    2 Wms FJ44-1AP-21

Output/Flat 

     Rating OAT°C    1,965 lb. ea./ISA+7C

TBO    5,000 hr.

 

 

Max Ramp    10,800/4,899

Max Takeoff    10,700/4,853

Max Landing    9,900/4,491

Zero Fuel    8,400/3,810c

BOW    7,004/3,177

Max Payload    1,396/633

Useful Load    3,796/1,722

Executive Payload    1,400/635

Max Fuel    3,296/1,495

Payload with Max Fuel    500/227

Fuel with Max Payload    2,400/1,089

Fuel with Executive Payload    2,396/1,087    

 

Limits

Mmo    0.710

FL/Vmo    FL 305/263

PSI    8.5

 

Climb

Time to FL 370    18 min.

FAR 25 OEI rate (fpm)    NA/NA 

FAR 25 OEI gradient (ft./nm)    NA/NA

 

Ceilings (ft./m)

Certificated    41,000/12,497

All-Engine Service    41,000/12,497

Engine-Out Service    26,800/8,169

Sea Level Cabin    22,027/6,714

 

Certification    FAR Part 23/EASA CS-23

Textron Aviation officials say that almost all customers opt for synthetic vision technology. It’s a valuable upgrade, in our opinion, as it considerably improves situational awareness. Garmin’s exclusive 3-D traffic presentation on the PFD, along with runway and obstacle imagery, is included with SVT.

The switch from Rockwell Collins’ Pro Line 21 in the CJ1+ to the Garmin G3000 in the M2 will ease the transition for pilots moving from Cessna piston and turboprop singles equipped with G1000 systems. But it will require some study and adaptation for CE525 type-rated pilots making the change from Pro Line 21. Gone are the radio management units in the instrument panel, FMS CDU and flight guidance controls in the center console, along with the annunciator light panel, various stand-alone warning lights and gauges.

There’s now a proper digital flight guidance control panel under the center glareshield. Annunciation, warning and alert indications have been integrated into the displays. The G3000 also has a complete EICAS function, with color-keyed indications to catch your eye when needed.

Lots of other systems switches, knobs and buttons have vanished, as many functions now are controlled through dual touchscreen units in the top of the center console. Some functions have been automated, such as turning on avionics power and the navigation lights. Those two functions are triggered by turning on battery power, unless the pilot opts to override system defaults by using touchscreen control menus. The touchscreen controls also are used for pre-start system tests, manually setting speed bugs, flight planning, weather, traffic and terrain hazard system operation, and control of most aircraft systems.

Many of these functions are buried in a couple of menu layers, but as with modern PDAs, graphic icons make it easy to learn the steps after a few hours.

Engine starting procedures are typical Citation. The engine start/stop switches have been relocated behind the throttle quadrant in the center console. Touch a start button and the starter, ignition and boost pump function automatically. At 9% N2 turbine rpm, the throttle is moved from cutoff to idle. This action mostly is pro forma as the FADEC would automatically schedule fuel flow at the proper point in the start sequence if the throttles were prematurely positioned to idle.

Once both engines were running, we dug through a few touchscreen control menus to switch on the vapor-cycle air conditioner on the 33C day at Wichita. It took a little thrust increase to start the aircraft moving out of the chocks, but once it was in motion it kept rolling at idle. The power brakes felt natural and easy to modulate. Nosewheel steering, actuated through bungees linked to the rudder pedals, was crisp and precise. Schrag used the pocket checklist to compute runway and V speed data. A G3000 software update, slated for October 2015, will provide FMS computed runway and V speed functions. Few, if any, competitive entry-level turboprops and light jets have this feature built into the FMS.

Based upon a 7,100-lb. single-pilot BOW, two 190-lb. occupants and 3,000 lb. of fuel aboard, our computed takeoff weight was 10,480 lb. Using flaps 15 deg., takeoff V speeds were 99 KIAS for V1 decision speed, 104 KIAS for rotation speed and 110 KIAS for V2 one-engine-inoperative takeoff speed. Takeoff field length was 4,450 ft. with 7,300 ft. available on Runway 19L.

Due to the warm day conditions, takeoff acceleration was moderate. Initial pitch response was crisp, yet well damped. With a positive rate of climb, we retracted the landing gear and passing 400 ft. AGL with V2+20 kt., we retracted the flaps. Electric pitch trim response was nicely proportionate. The aircraft exhibited excellent pitch speed stability and resistance to upset in turbulence.

Up at 15,500 ft., we flew a couple of 180-deg. steep turns. The G3000’s flight path marker on the PFD, plus speed trend tape, made it easy to hold altitude and 200 KIAS. Then we flew a series of full stalls. At 10,100 lb. in the clean configuration, stick shaker fired at 106 KIAS and stall occurred at 92 KIAS. At flaps 15 deg., the speeds were 96 KIAS for shaker and 86 KIAS for stall. With gear down and flaps 35 deg. in the landing configuration, the shaker fired at 93 KIAS and the aircraft stalled at 81 KIAS.

Conclusions about stall behavior? We’ve not flown an entry-level turbine business aircraft with more docile or controllable stall characteristics; there is no need for a stick pusher or anhedral stabilizing fins on the bottom of the empennage. This one sets the standard for high-AOA behavior.

We then returned to Wichita for pattern work, first flying the RNAV (GPS) Y Runway 19L procedure. Loading the procedure into the FMS is a snap. There’s a procedure icon on the main menu of the touchscreen controller. Press it and a list of procedures is displayed for the active flight plan destination airport. We loaded the approach, armed it with the “approach” button on the glareshield controller and followed the command cues. Notably, Garmin’s EFIS color conventions and mode annunciations are clear and intuitive. Magenta means FMS approach guidance and green signifies ILS guidance.

Using flaps 35 deg., the Vref landing speed at 9,700 lb. was 108 KIAS. The aircraft was quite stable on approach, mimicking the characteristics of a much larger and heavier business aircraft. Approaching the runway, we slowly closed the throttles, flared and wafted gently past the touchdown markers before the tires touched the pavement. Make a note. This aircraft will float excessively if thrust isn’t reduced to idle over the threshold.

We retracted flaps to 15 deg., executed a touch and go and flew the aircraft downwind for another attempt. Schrag programmed in the ILS Runway 19L to provide line-up and glideslope references on the PFD. The second landing was more precise. After touchdown, we used lift dump, activating 60-deg. flaps and the spoilers, to hasten deceleration. We mashed down on the brake pedals for a maximum effort stop. There was immediate response. The aircraft rapidly slowed and tracked true, right down the center stripe with no hesitation, no hint of directional instability. In our opinion, no other entry-level turbine aircraft has better brakes.

After stopping at Yingling Aviation for fuel, Schrag called for clearance to Denver International Airport.

Very shortly after takeoff from Wichita, Schrag pulled back the left throttle to idle so that we could experience simulated one-engine-inoperative conditions. While the aircraft has no rudder boost system, as do larger and more powerful versions of the CJ family, asymmetric thrust and adverse yaw were easy to counter with moderate rudder pressure. Also, there was virtually no proverse roll because there is no wing sweep.

After the demonstration, we climbed to FL 400 with a few intermediate level-offs and with liberal use of engine anti-ice going through cloud layers. Once level, the aircraft, at a weight of 9,646 lb. and in ISA+3C conditions, cruised at 392 KTAS while burning 740 lb./hr. The M2 flight planning guide predicted it would cruise at 389 KTAS while burning 716 lb./hr. in ISA conditions, so there was a close correlation of actual versus advertised performance.

As we proceeded westward toward Denver, we had an excellent opportunity to use the full capabilities of the G3000 avionics system. On the center MFD, we selected XM satellite radio NEXRAD weather graphics for a strategic view of our flight plan route in relation to several thunderstorms. NEXRAD, though, has as much as a 5- to 10-min. lag in the imagery it provides. So, we also split the screens of the PFDs, using a portion of the display as an onboard weather radar indicator, thereby providing images of weather threats in real time, but at shorter ranges. Schrag carefully adjusted radar antenna tilt so that only weather echoes would be shown inside 75 nm. Outside that range, ground clutter caused echoes due to the 7-deg. radar beam width.

Such fine-tuned tilt adjustments require use of several submenus in the touchscreen control unit. However, Schrag noted that the weather radar has an automatic tilt control function that eliminates the need for such manual adjustments. In addition, the optional Doppler weather radar upgrade should eliminate much of the ground clutter echoes even though the 12-in. flat-plate radar antenna produces a relatively fat beam.

“Denver, Citation 824 Mike Tango. We need 20 left for weather,” Schrag radioed, as we approached within 100 nm of a large storm blocking our route to Denver International.

“OK, 4 Mike Tango. Direct Pueblo when able, then direct Black Forest, direct Denver,” Center replied. “Cross Black Forest at one six thousand and 250 kt.”

Using the touchscreen control panel, we amended the flight plan, added the crossing and speed restrictions for the waypoint, and activated VNAV. We used VNAV and the autopilot until descending through FL 290, then we hand-flew the aircraft for the remainder of the mission.

Well clear of the thunderstorms, Denver Center directed us to descend to 12,000 ft. for the last 70 mi. and we continued to hand-fly the aircraft to landing on Runway 17R. We flew most of the approach at 200 KIAS, so as to not impede jetliner traffic in trail of the M2. Total fuel burn for the trip was just over 800 lb.

Tops in Owner-Flown Class

The M2 isn’t the largest aircraft in the entry-level turbine aircraft market, but it’s unsurpassed for speed, safety and single-pilot ease of operations, in our opinion. It will cruise at 380 to 390 KTAS at typical jet altitudes. With typical options and at high-speed cruise, it will fly one pilot and four passengers 1,150 nm in 2 hr., 49 min., assuming standard day conditions. It will climb directly to FL 410, its maximum cruise altitude, in 24 min. That’s 27% faster than its closest competitor.

As for safety, it offers twin-engine redundancy and certified one-engine-inoperative takeoff and go-around performance. Its stall behavior is unsurpassed. We’ve not flown a more docile or controllable turbine at its maximum AOA. Its wheel braking is smooth, consistent, responsive and predictable. Mash down fully on the brake pedals and it tracks straight down the runway as though on railroad tracks.

The instrument panel’s three displays are the largest in this class of aircraft and they have the highest resolution. Checklists are short, systems are automated and the user interface is as easy to learn as a new PDA. The upcoming FMS software update will add runway length and automatic V speed calculations. We believe this feature is a significant situational awareness and safety benefit, one that is exclusive to the M2 in this class.

The M2’s cabin dimensions, window size and baggage capacity quite clearly are smaller than those of some competitors. But its longest missions won’t exceed 3+00 to 3+30 duration, so those shortcomings are less important than they would be in an aircraft with more range.

Priced at $4.5 million when properly equipped, the M2 is one of the most-expensive entry-level turbine aircraft. But it’s also a good value. This aircraft sets a new and higher standard in the entry-level turbine aircraft class. B&CA

This article was originally published on 28th August.