As I’m a pilot on its smaller sister, the Citation XLS+, I was eagerly awaiting the first test flight of Cessna’s new midsize jet – the Citation Latitude. This took place on February 18 in Wichita, Kansas.
Having been unveiled as a concept to much excitement at NBAA 2011, fast forward three and a half years and it’s fantastic to see the prototype of the Latitude actually taking flight. By the way, prototype aircraft are sometimes referred to as ‘green aircraft’ – nothing to do with their environmental profile, but because without any paint on them, the underlying colour of the fuselage is green.
The 2.5 hour test flight was a success. Pilot Aaron Tobias said afterwards “The Citation Latitude was great today, which is to say it behaved just as anticipated”. The crew reached an altitude of 28,000 feet and a speed of 200 kts. Over the course of the flight, the crew would have tested all of the aircraft’s key functions including the flaps, landing gear, pressurization, anti-ice capabilities, stability and control.
Cessna are positioning the Citation Latitude between Citation XLS+ (currently the most popular business jet in the world) and the longer Citation Sovereign. A lot of focus has been given to its state-of-the-art interior, which Cessna describe as “the next-generation business-travel environment”.
The 30 inch wide cabin is the roomiest of any of the Citation family aircraft, and it is the only Cessna jet with a flat floor (which maximises head height). It will be equipped with Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306D engines, a Garmin 5000 avionics suite and electrically operated door.
The Latitude will accommodate up to 9 passengers and has a theoretical range of 4,630 km – so able to make cross-continental trips such as Los Angeles to New York, or Rome to Dubai.
Cessna expects FAA certification of the $14.9 million Latitude in mid 2015. We’ll be watching carefully to see if its much-anticipated launch dents the popularity of the XLS+ or other aircraft in the mid-size category, such as the popular Hawker Beechcraft 900.
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