After years in the making, it was fantastic to see the Citation Latitude achieve its FAA certification last week.
Cessna’s new $16M mid-sized business jet is on schedule following the initial launch announcement back in October 2011, at the annual industry showcase NBAA. We have enjoyed following the Latitude’s journey since, through its flight test program – including its first flight in February 2014 and its public debut at NBAA last autumn.
The FAA certification – which is the final sign-off before manufacturing rollout and deliveries – follows the aircraft’s first transatlantic flight last month, from Newfoundland to Valencia in Spain.
Deliveries are expected to begin in the final quarter of this year. And Cessna’s owner Textron will be hoping to revive the struggling mid-sized category with this new contender – which plugs the gap between the smaller best-selling Citation XLS+, and the bigger and more expensive Citation Sovereign.
This is what we can look forward to when the Latitude hits the charter market in 2016.
What makes the Citation Latitude stand out?
The Latitude is being talked about as a ‘breakthrough’ aircraft in mid-sized jets due to its increased cabin size – taller and wider than any in the Citation range – without an associated increase in its operating costs.
The cabin experience was one of the major focus areas in developing the aircraft. Cessna’s Citation jets have always been known for their reliability and performance, but in recent years have seen increasing competition from other manufacturers when it comes to cabin design.
So their aim with the Latitude was to create an “unmatched cabin experience at this price point”. The cabin is 77 inches wide ; has a truly flat floor; and a stand up height of 6 feet throughout. There are 6 ergonomically-designed single seats, plus a double side-facing couch option.
Advanced touchscreen entertainment technology and a choice of interior design options add to the Latitude’s stylish appeal.
Both customers and operators stand to benefit from the lower operating costs. Textron say it will be 20% cheaper to run than the Gulfstream G280 or Embraer Legacy 450. The Latitude will achieve this by offering better operational performance and efficiency – reducing fuel costs on each flight, but also lower maintenance costs.
Its certified maximum range of 2,850 nm puts it at the upper end of the category (and is much further than the original spec of 2,000 nm). This will make it able to cover the whole of Europe without a fuel stop, and capable of transatlantic business flights.
And when it comes to the avionics, the Latitude’s flight deck includes touchscreen displays and Garmin’s Synthetic Vision Technology system – giving pilots’ a virtual-reality view of terrain, obstacles, traffic and runways outside of their range of vision.
When will the Citation Latitude become available for charter?
With customer deliveries starting from the autumn, the Citation Latitude will become available for charter in 2016. We can’t wait to see how it shakes up the mid-sized market.