Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Citation Step-Up Magic


Cessna’s new citation M2 upgrades performance, value and features


For our first leg from Boulder City to Sedona, I had a chance to sample the ride in back. The main entrance is through the standard CJ door with a 24-inch base that tapers to 20 inches at the top. Dual seals, one inflatable and one passive, have a proven record of reliability. As you step through the door, you're surrounded by rich wood and fine leather in a bright environment equipped with a modern LED lighting system. In back, the four fully adjustable club seats are comfortable enough for even the longest trip. The windows are large, and in the rear of the cabin, there's an enclosed, belted lav with lots of storage room for things you might want to access during a flight. The forward bench-style jump seat can also be belted, so a total of eight people can be accommodated. The cabin tables fold out of the sidewalls and are very usable for anyone who wants to get a little work done during a trip. There's even an electronic passenger briefing system and a six-place intercom that allows easy communication between the passengers and crew. Pushing the "hail" button lets the crew know that you have something to say, so that they can activate the rear intercom system. This is a welcome improvement over the Mustang where my kids toss banana peels at me to get my attention! The cabin also features two 110 VAC outlets. The optional Clairity Wireless system provides flight maps, SiriusXM Radio and in-flight streaming of audio and video. There's also an option for inflight Internet. We tried it by uploading M2 photos to Plane & Pilot's Facebook page while in flight, and it worked great. Cessna explained that the domestic bandwidth is good enough for email and most types of browsing. The service isn't inexpensive, but it's available for those who want it.

The Williams FJ44-1AP engine delivers 1,965 pounds of thrust and claims to be the quietest engine on the market. Indeed, I found the ride to be extraordinarily quiet with less of the high-pitch whine found in the Mustang. Normal conversation without a headset is very comfortable. Interestingly, the engine is basically the same medium-bypass engine used in the CJ1+ with new FADEC software that enables better performance at altitude. A "simple" software tweak was all it took to provide the extra thrust needed to achieve the target 400 KTAS performance number—that's keeping it simple!

Jump Into The Cockpit
Cessna really paid attention to owner comments about the importance of a comfortable cockpit, and without a doubt, the M2 cockpit is among the most accessible and comfortable in the whole CJ line. The central throttle pedestal has been lowered and shortened considerably to make it easy to climb into the front seats. Forget about the gymnastic moves needed to get into the old CJs. The seats themselves are the latest highly adjustable seats borrowed from the CJ4 that provide leg support with a cutout for control column movement. The cockpit dividers have been repositioned, and the cabinets tapered to allow for extended seat rails and reclining seats. I have long legs, and I found that I could quickly adjust the position and angle of the pilot seat to my liking. Headroom is really impressive and should accommodate even the tallest pilot. Ample armrests incorporate two forward, out-of-the-way cup holders, as well as USB charging stations. There's even a push-to-talk switch built into each armrest, so you don't have to grab the yoke to respond to an ATC call. Another nice detail that exudes quality is the leather-wrapped control yoke. There's a rubber-padded spot that fits an iPhone just above the throttles. The whole thing feels just right, and it looks like a design lifted out of an Italian supercar.

My Cessna copilot for the day, Alex Unruh, explained that one thing missing in our demo plane is the new M2 windshield. Research showed that Mustang owners consider a heated glass windshield a very important feature in their next airplane. This eliminates the noisy bleed-air deicing system and doesn't require defogging during descent. Because of the contours required, the new windshield will still be acrylic.

The New Garmin G3000
Our flight out of Sedona was planned south to the Phoenix VOR and then to KVNY via airways to give us enough time to climb to altitude before descending into the L.A. area for arrival. Before starting, we took some time for an introduction to the G3000. Since the M2 has a separate 16Ah battery for powering the avionics on the ground, we had plenty of time to do a brief tour and get set up. Alex explained that along with the 42Ah main ship's battery operating in parallel, there was enough time to run the avionics for up to an hour in flight in the unlikely event that both generators go offline. If you have a really bad day, there's a Trilogy backup attitude indicator with its own internal battery.



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