Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Citation Step-Up Magic
Cessna’s new citation M2 upgrades performance, value and features
With FADEC, startup is super easy. Just set the brakes, push the starter button and lift the throttle over the gate to the idle position. All you have to do is monitor the gauges while the computer does the rest. Power settings are reduced to simply setting the throttles in preset detents. For takeoff, push the throttles to the takeoff detent and hang on. Acceleration is even more brisk than the Mustang—you definitely get pushed back in the seat, and the V-speeds come up pretty fast. The nose sits a little lower than the Mustang, so it takes a more positive pull on the yoke to rotate. Under standard conditions, at max takeoff weight, the M2 has a balanced field length of only 3,250 feet, so it can easily use many smaller runways. Once in the air, raise the gear, bring up the flaps, engage the AP, press the FLC button on the AFCS to bring up the target airspeed schedule on the flight director, run the after-takeoff checklist, and you're on your way.
In flight, the handling of the M2 is still CJ1+. It feels a bit bigger and more substantial than the Mustang, but it's not enough to matter. It takes off, flies, handles and lands pretty much like a Citation. The only minor differences from the Mustang are that at altitude, it doesn't cruise at such a high angle of attack (more power does wonders) and during landing, the attitude is just a bit flatter. It won't take much for any experienced Mustang pilot, or any other Citation pilot for that matter, to feel totally at home.
Once in the air, the performance is stunning. We took off from Sedona at an altitude of about 4,800 feet and climbed directly to FL400 in only 20 minutes and 30 seconds at a little over mid-weight. Once at altitude, we quickly accelerated to 390-398 KTAS at ISA-1, drinking about 730 pounds/hour. Alex explained that the M2 will reach its best speed between ISA +3 to +5 in the low- to mid-30s, so I was very impressed by the performance up at FL400. This is a big improvement over the Mustang—and even the CJ1+. It didn't take long before ATC cleared us to descend to FL340 for our arrival into the L.A. area. Once stabilized at FL340, the speed increased to 408 KTAS (0.70M) at a total fuel flow of 950 pounds/hour. The speed settled right under the bottom of the barber pole, and a couple of times, I had to pull the throttles back to avoid exceeding Mmo (0.710M). The M2 clearly reaches its advertised performance numbers, which are a good 60-70 knots faster than the Mustang. Climb to FL 410 and the range stretches to a respectable 1,300 nm. This is impressive performance.
The M2 is still a 525 series Citation, so anyone stepping up from the Mustang will have to go through the type-rating process again, but that shouldn't be a big deal for anyone with a little jet time. Customer deliveries started in December 2013, and the first new owners have already been through the new simulator at FlightSafety. The M2 is a clear step up in performance for Mustang owners or anyone looking for a state-of-the-art eight-place jet. At a 2014 base price of $4.5 million, Cessna definitely pulled off a magic trick, meeting all of its goals and setting new standards in terms of design, quality, performance, features and value. Cessna has a long history of raising the bar, and once again, it looks like it's "game on" for the competition.
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