Cessna understands the old wisdom that when you reduce the price, you appeal to new buyers, and when you add performance, old customers upgrade. The new Citation M2 demonstrates that seriously good things happen when you can do both. The story starts back to 2009—only two years after the first customer delivery of the Citation Mustang at a time when hype over the VLJ market was winding down. That was the year that Cessna first encountered stiff competition from the entry-level Phenom 100. With performance numbers closer to the CJ1+ and a price tag about $1 million dollars less than the CJ1+, the new Phenom quickly ate into a market niche long dominated by Cessna. The result wasn’t hard to understand. CJ1+ sales plummeted, and in 2011, the CJ1+ quietly disappeared from the Cessna sales brochures. At the same time, there was lively speculation among Mustang owners about how Cessna might create an upgrade path for the Mustang. Some favored an upgrade to the Mustang design with a higher-speed wing, more powerful engines and maybe a stretched fuselage. Others argued that a better option was to somehow revamp the popular time-tested CJ design to add a bit more speed and new avionics. We’ll never know how the discussion went inside of Cessna, but with its slightly larger airframe, the CJ1+ was well suited to recapturing market share and won out as a way to bridge the Mustang and CJ product lines. The primary goals were to pull at least $1 million out of the price and to increase performance while creating a clear upgrade path for existing Mustang owners. That meant controlling costs by minimizing unnecessary changes to the airframe. It wasn’t easy, but Cessna nailed it, and the result is an airplane worthy of a whole new name: the Citation M2.
How Do You Improve An Already Great Airplane?
So, how do you minimize changes, reduce costs and make a better airplane all at the same time? Cessna wisely listened to the voice of the customer by forming an advisory committee of Mustang owners to develop a list of “must-haves” for the new product. Owners particularly love the simple systems and ease of operation enabled by the Garmin G1000, and they clearly wanted to move up to another Garmin system. So, an early decision was made to outfit the M2 with the next-generation Garmin G3000 system. Replacing the Collins Pro-Line 21 system in the CJ1+ with the Garmin system helped achieve the first goal by pulling nearly enough cost out of the airplane to get to the $1 million reduction in price, while providing a weight savings of about 110 pounds! Owners also wanted a 400-knot cruise speed, more range, a heated windshield and two more seats than the Mustang, along with an extensive list of suggestions to make the plane more comfortable. The devil is in the details, and that process helped produce what just might be the best light jet in its class.