The Cessna Citation CJ2+, the second-generation CJ2 intro–duced in 2005, is one of the most successful models in the CE525 CitationJet line-up. More than 200 CE525A-plus airplanes now are in service and operators say it has more in common with the $1 million-plus more-expensive CJ3 than the original CJ2 that made its debut in late 2000. Even the two instrument panels and avionics suites are virtually identical except for some standard equipment on the CJ3 that's optional on the CJ2+.

The CJ2+ can climb to FL 450 8 min. faster or 22% quicker than the original CJ2. That's within 1 min. of the CJ3's time to climb to FL 450. The original CJ2's climb performance also was significantly more degraded by warm day outside air temperatures than that of the CJ2+. The newer aircraft's climb performance is all the more impressive because it has a 125-lb. heavier MTOW. And the CJ2+ has slightly shorter takeoff field length distances than the CJ2, plus better second-segment climb performance due to a modest thrust-to-weight ratio improvement.

Once the CJ2+ levels off at FL 450, it will stay nose to nose with the CJ3, or actually inch ahead, at maximum cruise thrust, much to the surprise of many CJ3 pilots. On BCA's fixed distance 300-nm, 600-nm and 1,000-nm four-passenger missions, the CJ2+ and CJ3 usually finish in a virtual dead heat.

“The CJ2+ is the sweet spot in this series [of CJs],” says Tom Oreck, who operates s.n. 491, a 2012 model based in Asheville, N.C. “It's incredibly, thoughtfully designed, as good an airplane as I've ever flown. We can climb directly to FL 450, even in ISA+ temperatures, in 20 to 25 min., above the traffic and weather so we often get direct routing. It accelerates up to the [high-speed cruise] numbers and it sips fuel.” On a standard day, the aircraft can cruise at 375 to 400 KTAS at FL 450 while burning 673 to 690 lb./hr., according to Cessna's CJ2+ flight planning guide.

It's no surprise that the CJ2+ and CJ3 are such close performance competitors. Both aircraft are powered by Williams FJ44-3 turbofans. The engines on the CJ3 are rated at 2,820 lb. maximum thrust while those on the CJ2+ are “chipped” to 2,490 lb. for takeoff. That's simply a flat rating programmed into the FADECs of otherwise identical engines.

The CJ3's higher thrust, however, gives it better runway performance. Its larger wing also carries nearly 20% more fuel, enabling it to fly an extra 160 nm to 240 nm depending upon passenger load.

Both airplanes need a fuel stop when flying from the U.S. East Coast to West Coast against winter headwinds, so the CJ2+'s shorter legs aren't a shortcoming for many operators. The CJ2+ also has a cabin that's 2.1-ft. shorter than that of the CJ3, so it's noticeably more crowded when all six chairs in the main seating area are occupied.

Mission profile was paramount for many operators during their purchase evaluations. If they needed longer legs and room for six passengers, they were attracted to the CJ3. But for most people, the CJ2+ was a better match for their range/payload needs.

“I bought CJ3 s.n. 1 in February 2005. It was a magnificent airplane,” says Stuart Fred, who flies CJ2+ s.n. 489, which he purchased in December 2011. “But the $1.5 million difference in price between the CJ2+ and CJ3 buys a lot of fuel for the 260-nm loss of range.”

“If you're going to be flying more than 1,500 nm and carrying more than four passengers, then the CJ3 is a better fit,” says Casey Miller, president of Latitude 33 Consulting, a management firm in Carlsbad, Calif., that cares for nine CJs and one Citation Mustang.

Why Operators Bought the CJ2+

Previous Citation owners make up the largest share of CJ2+ operators. Many formerly operated CitationJet, CJ1 and legacy CJ2 aircraft. Some flew Citation Mustangs or legacy 500/550 series Citations. A few moved down from CJ3 aircraft. A sprinkling previously operated single- or twin-turboprops, such as the TBM 700, Cessna 425/441, Conquest I/II or King Air 90/200 series.

Brand loyalty strongly influenced the purchase decision. Harold Bagwell, for example, started flying a Cessna 140 in 1964 and has owned Cessna products for nearly half a century. He currently flies CJ2+ s.n. 352, which he purchased in mid-2007, and he owns two other CJs plus a Cessna 210 Centurion and other personal single-engine airplanes. “I'm a 100% Cessna guy.”

Another operator said his first aircraft was a Cessna 182 Skylane. He then flew a Cessna 201 Centurion, Cessna 310 twin, Cessna 421 Golden Eagle, Citation 510 Mustang and Citation 550B Bravo before taking delivery of his CJ2+ in July 2010. Comfort with Cessna and confidence in its product support was a strong theme among operators.

“Starting with a Citation II, we've had a 15-year relationship with Cessna. We've had excellent product support and good success with the CJ series,” says Phillip “Flip” Schaitel, who flies s.n. 368 for Kennedy Rice Dryers LLC, based in Monroe, La. The firm previously operated a CitationJet and CJ2 prior to trading up to the CJ2+.

“It cost less and it had a lower cost per mile to operate than the CJ3, so it was a better fit for our missions,” says Randy Charron, who flies s.n. 394, based in Calgary, the first CJ2+ to be delivered to a Canadian operator.

Many operators considered competitive aircraft. Turboprop alternatives usually didn't make the cut because of slower cruise speeds and lower cruise altitudes, plus twin-turboprops didn't offer large gains in fuel efficiency. “It was going to be an all day long trip to New York, one in bad weather [cruise altitudes],” says Harvey Kautz, who operates s.n. 469, based in Shawnee, Okla. “We can cruise as fast as 420 KTAS and it only burns 120 gph [804 lb./hr. in cruise].”

Some looked at the Hawker Beechcraft Premier IA, but its 250- to 400-mi. range handicap and longer runway requirements disqualified it. Operators who usually fly with two pilots also considered the Hawker 400 and Learjet 40/45. But most non-commercial CJ2+ owner operators fly single pilot on the majority of their trips. Light jets that require two flight crewmembers thus were ruled out.

A large number of operators said that Cessna's top-notch product support was the deal closer. Other manufacturers' models may offer competitive performance, but most cannot support the product as well as Cessna, operators say.

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.

The Rockwell Collins Pro 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.

Mission Profiles

Most operators we contacted said they fly their aircraft single pilot all the time or most of the time. Some, however, said they always fly with two crewmembers when company guests or employees are passengers. A few said they only fly single pilot when they're solo or accompanied by immediate family members.

Most operators say their average missions are 1 to 2 hr. long, about 400 nm to 800 nm in length. The average for all operators responding to our survey is 573 nm. Many operators fly with three to four passengers on most trips. On such trips, they typically cruise in the high thirties or low forties. Total fuel burn ranges from 1,000 lb. to 1,900 lb., depending upon stage length. On smooth, dry runways, the CJ2+ needs less than 2,800 ft. for takeoff and landing on such short missions, assuming sea-level ISA conditions. Departing Sheridan, Wyo.'s 4,021-ft. field elevation airport on a 35C/95F day, the CJ2+ only needs 4,550 ft. of runway to fly such short missions.

Owner operators are comfortable stretching the aircraft out to its 1,500+ nm range with four passengers, in line with Cessna's published performance numbers for the aircraft. Flight department managers tend to be more conservative, preferring to fly not more than 1,000 to 1,200 nm. The difference between the two groups accounts for the 1,366 nm average for the survey. Cessna asserts that the aircraft can fly four passengers 1,538 nm and land with NBAA IFR reserves. Operators say they have faith in Cessna's flight planning guide numbers, but many simply want to arrive at their destinations with fatter fuel reserves to cover unforeseen contingencies.

Operators who fly their aircraft with two crew and whose aircraft have the optional right front side-facing chair in place of the full-size galley say they have to be careful about exceeding the forward center of gravity limit. Aircraft flown with two crewmembers should be loaded from rear to front, operators say.

Pilots say they usually climb directly to the low forties on long-range missions, just because they can cruise faster than at FL 450. First hour fuel burn is 1,100 to 1,200 lb. and then it drops to 800 to 900 lb. for the second and subsequent hours. Climbing to FL 450 results in fuel flows of 673 to 696 lb./hr.; however cruise speeds slow to 375 to 406 KTAS, depending upon aircraft weight and OAT. But flying at FL 450 is the only way to stretch range to 1,500 to 1,600 nm. Most pilots use 400-kt. block speeds for rough flight planning purposes.

The average annual utilization for operators in our survey is 225 hr. per year. Owner operators typically say they fly fewer than 200 hr. per year, making four to five trips per month. Corporate flight departments with full-time professional pilots say they fly the aircraft 300 to 400 hr. per year, usually between headquarters and outlying facilities. Most operators say their typical passengers are company employees traveling between business locations. Some also use their aircraft for family transportation, putting more net leisure time into fewer vacation days and weekends.

Report Card

BCA uses Operators Surveys to check actual aircraft BOWs against the values supplied by OEMs for our May Purchase Planning Handbook. Cessna quotes 7,980 lb. as the average single-pilot BOW for the CJ2+. The average BOW reported by operators during our survey was 7,987 lb., a positive reflection on both the accuracy of advertised numbers and Cessna's integrity.

Our Report Card gives operators the opportunity to grade aircraft, training and product support in several categories. Owner operators tend to award the aircraft higher grades than flight department managers. (In the Report Card, 4.0=A; 3.0=B; 2.0=C; 1.0=D) Overall, the two groups give an A-/B+ to the basic Citation airframe, absent engines, avionics and systems. Owner operators moving up from less capable CitationJets generally viewed the aircraft more favorably than corporate fleet operators with other more capable, faster and more expensive aircraft.

Both groups gave high marks to the Williams FJ44-3A-24 turbofan engines. They said they're well matched to the airframe, providing sporty performance, fast climb times and excellent fuel efficiency. Just as importantly, the engines are very reliable according to survey respondents. Few, if any, operators have been grounded with engine snags. Two, though, say they have been grounded with FADEC malfunctions. However, Williams has since updated the engine computer software at no cost to operators.

Owner operators and corporate flight department managers give high marks to the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics suite, essentially a clone of the system installed in the CJ3. A few gripe that the displays have small font sizes and minimal use of color. Interestingly, only a smattering of respondents say they miss having synthetic vision PFDs, a feature offered on other Citations equipped with Garmin avionics. Cessna says it has no immediate plans to offer an SVS upgrade for the aircraft.

The full-feature FMS-3000 received praise. Some operators moving up from less capable systems said that initially mastering the system was challenging, especially as simulator training service providers don't offer a comprehensive Collins FMS learning course.

Operators gave the aircraft's traffic alerting systems mixed reviews. Aircraft fitted with the standard L-3 SkyWatch HP TCAS I system generally received lower marks than those upgraded with the optional Rockwell Collins TCAS II package.

The standard L-3 Landmark and optional Honeywell EGPWS TAWS boxes earned similar A-/B+ grades.

Most other airframe systems earned A- grades, with three exceptions. Operators say most systems are efficient, simple, reliable and easy to service. The most notable exception was the B grade given to the heating and air-conditioning system. Many operators say it just doesn't effectively provide a comfortable environment for the flight crew and passengers. They say it needs better airflow distribution and dual-zone cockpit/cabin temperature controls.

Secondly, some operators say wheel braking action is difficult to modulate smoothly. Asymmetric braking often results, a problem that's annoying to some pilots and unsettling for some passengers. Cessna upgraded the brake control valves and linkages midway through CJ2 production, prior to the debut of the CJ2+, but some operators say more work needs to be done. One operator said his pilots are on the alert for “crazy” brakes, alluding to their grabby response and asymmetric action.

And finally, some operators say the windshield bleed-air defog and ice protection system is noisy. They wish the aircraft had electrically heated glass windshields rather than bleed-air heated stretched acrylic transparencies.

Cessna's interior completion received a B+ grade. Grades for the exterior paint ranged from A to D, reflecting the continuing challenges experienced by Cessna's paint shop. Overall, though, aircraft paint earned an A-/B+ grade, so most operators are pleased with the paint work.

FlightSafety International earns higher marks for training than CAE SimuFlite. Operators say that SimuFlite makes do with a combined CJ3/CJ2+ flight simulator while FSI has dedicated CJ2+ boxes. However, some operators are willing to adapt to SimuFlite's CJ3 sim because they say recurrent training prices are 40 to 50% lower than FSI's.

In line with BCA's previous Citation Operators Surveys, Cessna's technical and parts support received very high marks. “It's A++,” declares Dr. Russell Boyd, who flies s.n. 480. “Cessna always has been very helpful,” says Kent Gillen, chief pilot for Chick-fil-A, which operates s.n. 319. “It's A+. It's extraordinary, truly one of Cessna's strong suits,” comments Chris Wheeler, who flies s.n. 323. “We've seen the company yank parts off of production line aircraft to support the customer.”

But some operators are concerned that Cessna's recent widespread staff changes, including those in charge of product support, may have an adverse impact. “I've experienced too many handoffs,” says Bagwell.

Williams International's product support receives mixed grades. Some operators rave about the firm's service, but others believe Williams' defense contractor history creates walls to communication with customers. “I give them a D grade. They're just too close-lipped,” says Nat Goldhaber, who flies s.n. 388. “The company is slow to respond, so I give it a C,” says Dan Gimbel, who flies s.n. 425. Yet, most operators were pleased with Williams' technical support, explaining the B+ overall grade respondents awarded the firm.

Rockwell Collins also received good grades for technical and product support. But a few operators said that spares were in short supply, especially LCDs and file server units.

Performance Versus Expectations

On balance, the CJ2+'s performance meets or exceeds the expectations of operators. But they say it's essential to know your mission profile. “If you're flying less than 1,500 mi. and carry four or fewer passengers, stick with this airplane,” says Cooper. “The CJ3 is better suited to longer trips and with more passengers,” adds Miller. “Know your mission and you can't go wrong with this airplane,” says another operator.

“It's a very wise choice, a great tradeoff between price and performance,” comments Nolan Kirkman, who flies s.n. 309. “The CJ3 and CJ4 have better legroom and more range and speed. But there's a $1 million to $2 million price difference.”

“The CJ2+ is an ideal airplane for the price. It does much of the job of the CJ3. And it's a much, much better aircraft than the original CitationJet,” says Robert Fiscella, who flies s.n. 327.

Based upon comments from CJ2+ operators, Cessna clearly has reinforced its lead in the light jet market with this Citation model. The firm also created a near ideal niche between the Citation M2 and CJ3 providing buyers with an intermediate step up in performance with a proportionate increase in price. While there's still ample opportunity for improvement in the refinement of some CJ2+ systems, those shortcomings aren't significant detractors to high levels of customer satisfaction. Cessna's product support also remains a key selling point. So, CJ2+ operators are likely to buy another Citation when they're ready to trade up.

Perhaps Stuart Fred says it best for the CJ2+ community. “There just isn't anything else to match it in a single-pilot aircraft.” That's a sweet tune if you're a Citation sales representative. BCA