If you want a brief example of how the fortunes of the business jet industry have changed in recent years, few endeavors illustrate the story as well as Cessna's ambitions to field a super-mid-size aircraft.

In 2008, at the height of the business aircraft boom, the Textron division launched the ambitious Columbus with great fanfare. A year later, with business aviation sales tanking, the company aborted the $750 million development plan. Now, with hints of recovery, Cessna is back. However, the Citation Longitude represents a far more modest and cheaper development effort, reflecting a more modest market outlook.

In an effort to curtail costs, the Longitude will share its fuselage cross section with the Citation Latitude and otherwise aim to deliver virtually the same performance capabilities as the Columbus. CEO Scott Ernest acknowledges the development bill will be lower, but he would not put a figure on the cost.

The commonality means, though, that the aircraft will have a 6-in. narrower cabin cross section than the Columbus. The main seating area will be 7 in. shorter.

Ernest says he is trying to bring the aircraft to market “as soon as possible.” Cessna is targeting FAA type certification and initial customer deliveries in fourth-quarter 2017, about three and one-half years later than the Columbus was slated to hit the market.

The Longitude has a range of around 4,000 nm. Dimensions and weights have not been set, but the aircraft will sport a wingspan of up to 86 ft., an overall length as long as 87 ft. and a tail height of up to 26 ft.

Some aero-design features developed for Columbus will be resurrected for Longitude, including its huge T-tail empennage, area-rule loft contours and moderately swept wing. The new aircraft also will have simpler systems, many adapted from legacy Citations.

The Longitude super mid-size aircraft will be powered by the Snecma Silvercrest, a clean-sheet 8,500-12,000-lb.-thrust turbofan that promises 15% better specific fuel consumption than current engines in this thrust class, along with a 50% margin to CAEP/6 NOx limits and 20% margin to Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) 36 Stage 4 noise limits. It will be rated for takeoff up to 11,000 lb.

The deal with Cessna, signed only recently, represents the first acknowledged application of the Silvercrest. The engine is also to power the Dassault SMS, which has not been formally launched, and will be a larger aircraft than the Longitude. Assembly of the first new Dassault Falcon is set to start next year, with first flight in 2014 and entry-into-service expected around 2016. The aircraft will feature a Honeywell cockpit.

Ground trials of the first Silvercrest engine are due to begin this summer as Snecma works to begin flight trials of the business aircraft engine in the first half of next year.

The Silvercrest design covers a thrust range of 9,500-12,000 lb.

Engine certification is planned in 2015, says Francois Planaud, Snecma's general manager for commercial aircraft engines.

Snecma will build eight development engines, adds Laurence Finet, Silvercrest general manager. Flight trials will take place on a company Gulfstream G3.

The engine, with a 5.9:1 bypass ratio, will sport a 42.5-in.-dia. fan with 20 wide-chord metallic blades, a high-pressure compressor with four axial blisk stages and a single centrifugal compressor. Silvercrest also will have a single-stage high-pressure turbine, a compact four-stage booster and a four-stage low-pressure turbine.

A high-pressure core demonstrator ran in 2007-08, with full-scale development launched in third-quarter 2010.

On the Longitude, Garmin will provide its G5000 flight deck (already the baseline for the Latitude), with three large touchscreens. It is the largest aircraft application yet for Garmin, as it tries to penetrate the market that has been long-dominated by Honeywell and Rockwell Collins. The G5000 also is being used on the Citation X and Bombardier Learjet 70/75 (see p. 20).

The aircraft will receive a new wing design, with a super-critical airfoil, a straight leading edge with a 30 deg. sweep and small winglets. The modest wing sweep results in a relatively sharp increase in drag above its Mach 0.82 design cruise speed, but that is still 11 kt. faster than Columbus.

Cessna will retain its use of an aluminum fuselage and wing construction. The fuselage will be an 83.25-in. circular cross section that will afford 6 ft. of cabin height, 6.4 ft. of width overall and a 4.1-ft.-wide flat floor.