I’m going to admit it right up front: I’ve always admired the Cessna CJ3 from afar but frankly, it’s a bit, (okay, a lot) out of my price range, so it’s a plane that I’ve only dreamed about. But dreams are good, and wow, what an airplane! So, when Cessna contacted me to ask if I wanted to take a trip in a brand-new CJ3+, I jumped at the chance. As a Citation Mustang pilot, I was curious to see how the new 3+ compared with my baby Citation and to see how it would do on a common trip. I was especially interested to see how easy it would be to fly for someone transitioning from a smaller jet like the Mustang.
The story of the CJ3+ starts long before the Mustang, back in 1993, with the delivery of the first Cessna Citation Jet—the original CJ. At the time, it was a revolutionary jet that was made possible by new 1,900-pound-thrust Williams FJ44-1A turbofan engines and a new laminar-flow wing perfected by Cessna. With nearly straight wings, the CJ had relatively docile low-speed handling characteristics, a respectable top cruise speed of 381 KTAS and a range of 1,285 nm. Right out of the gate, the CJ was certified for single-pilot operation, and it proved to be an instant hit with both owner-pilots and business operators.