Sunday, July 1, 2007
The Sierra Stallion
It’s not your father’s Citation!
Pilots often nickname airplanes they love and, conversely, ones they dislike. There’s “Spam Can” for Cessna pistons and there’s the denigrating “Fork-Tailed Doctor Killer” for V-tailed Bonanzas; one of the most derisive is “Slow ’Tation” for Cessna’s entry-level jet. It’s hard to believe, but some folks malign the Cessna Citation as a “near jet” and use other less-than-flattering descriptions. " />
The Stallion is competitive with mainstream bizjets with price points in the range of the emerging VLJ market. Of the two certified VLJ-class jets currently on the market, the Stallion beats the numbers of both the Eclipse 500 and the Cessna Mustang. At full fuel, the Stallion can carry a payload that’s 900 pounds heavier than the Eclipse’s, and 1,070 pounds heavier than the Mustang’s. Cruise speeds are almost 80 knots slower for both VLJs. Of the other VLJs in development, only the HondaJet exceeds the Stallion in speed and altitude. By any measure, the Stallion is a major player in the single-pilot, light-jet category.
The Stallion really shows its stride in a demonstration flight. A direct climb to FL430 in less than 26 minutes puts you above most of the weather and most of the airline traffic. Flying direct saves fuel and time. The most impressive operational change the Stallion offers over the classic Citation is the additional 60 knots above stall margin at cruise altitudes. Operating at very high altitudes results in lower indicated airspeeds and lower margins between cruise and stall; even the Learjet has narrow margins in the high air. Flight planning is simple, and rolling into 30 degrees of bank at FL430 can be done without any worries.
An interesting artifact of cruising at high altitude is cold soaking. Most environmental control systems have trouble keeping up with such large temperature and humidity swings, resulting in pops, surges and windshield fogging. The Sierra installation can handle full cabin pressure on one engine at altitude and has no trouble with rapid descents and defogging.
Power management with the Stallion is dead simple. There’s no need to synchronize the engines or worry about compressor stalls. The engine operates best at 100%, and automation eliminates fan harmonics. Nothing could be simpler. The result is a jet with a solid feel that gives you a real kick in the pants when the engines spool into the power zone.
Sierra has sold airplanes all over the world, with the first Stallion delivery going to Canada. Al Kroontje flew his Stallion 1,498 nm to Calgary at an average of 354 KTAS; it was a transformational trip for the Citation owner who flew at an altitude well above the moderate turbulence that bedeviled the airlines that day.
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