By Rohit Jaggi
Cessna’s unveiling of the Citation Ten, to take over from the $21.7m Citation X that has long been billed as the fastest civilian jet, is much more than a shift away from roman numerals.
The more fuel-efficient Ten will have new Rolls-Royce engines, a new Garmin integrated avionics system, and a “revolutionary” cabin management system developed partly in-house that, says Cessna, is “all about connectivity”.
It will also be 15 inches longer, have a completely revamped interior, and feature as standard the winglets that are approved as aftermarket modifications for the current X, which has not had any significant changes since 2002.
But, while Cessna says it will be quicker than the old one, it is not saying by how much. Gulfstream is snapping at the heels of the Mach 0.92-capable X with its G650 ultra-long-range, ultra-long-cabin, business jet. The G650, which is currently working its way through its flight test programme, has achieved M0.925.
Maximum speed “will be something that we decide when we have tested the airplane,” says Joel Mugglin, product marketing manager for the Ten.
However, Cessna’s preliminary cruise speed chart shows a maximum cruise of about M0.918.
“It’s fair to say it’s faster than today’s airplane at the upper altitudes where people are going to be operating it,” says Mr Mugglin.
Jack Pelton, Cessna president and chief executive, has in the past said to me that the Citation X would keep the high-speed crown.
The Ten is aiming for certification in 2013, price yet to be announced.
The Garmin G5000 system on the Ten is an evolution of the avionics company’s revolutionary systems that have brought sophisticated, flat-screen technology to even the smallest general aviation aircraft.
The Ten is the launch vehicle for the G5000, which is the first Garmin system to be aimed at commercial airliners as well as the upper strata of business aircraft.
The system, controlled by two touch-screens, has also been chosen for three other airframes, says Bill Stone, Garmin avionics product manager. “That’s as of today,” he told me. “Call back tomorrow – it may be different.”
Lift for financing
The inaugural deal at Milestone Aviation, the first finance company to concentrate on the helicopter and private jet markets, will provide 100 per cent lease financing for Brazil’s Omni Taxi Aéreo to buy two new Sikorsky S76C++ helicopters.
The deal completed last month, will allow Brazil’s second largest helicopter operator to meet growing demand from the offshore oil industry.
Hopes are high in business aviation that Milestone, set up by former NetJets executives, will help to take the crisis out of funding.
Wanting in vision
He may have extended the boundaries of helicopter ownership, and use, for ever, but even Frank Robinson’s enthusiasm about spreading the H word has to bow before some forces.
One of which is the weather. Mr Robinson’s attempt to visit the headquarters of one of his helicopter manufacturing company’s two UK distributors was delayed by a fog that refused to burn off until much later than his scheduled arrival time.
After the usual seemingly interminable delays to see whether the weather would improve – in my experience much more a feature of flying in Northamptonshire than in Torrance, southern California, where Robinson Helicopter is based – he was forced to resort to the road to reach Sloane Helicopters at Sywell Aerodrome.
But at least the mist lifted during the afternoon. Enough for the helicopter he was due to travel in – one of his own R44 four-seaters, of course – to have no problems with the short hop to near his hotel at Heathrow.
He did not take the controls himself. In fact he tells me that he has cut back on his flying. “And I plan to continue, partly because I have given so many people my word that I am going to live to be 100 – or more.”