After 22 years in production and regarded as the world’s fastest civilian jet, the Cessna Citation X is entering into retirement. Powered by two turbofan engines, the Citation X is one out of six separate lines of jet aircraft produced by the Cessna Aircraft Company under the Citation family umbrella. The aircraft’s design is next-generation upcycled from three previous Citation aircraft, the III, VI, and VII models and yet features several newer innovations in civilian aircraft design.
The Citation X concept was initially introduced in 1990 at the National Business Aviation Association Convention in New Orleans by former Cessna Aircraft Company chairman Russ Meyer Jr. The proposed plan included a performance specification that was unheard of in Cessna developed aircraft up until then. Industry insiders doubted the Wichita based manufacturer was up to the task.
Throughout the 1970s, Cessna developed several practical, and reliable aircraft under the Citation name. However, what they made up for in ease of use, they sacrificed in speed, leaving comparable Learjets of the time possessed of considerably more appeal performance-wise.
In a bid to improve upon previous Citation aircraft, the plans for the X included all innovations in the wing, tail, and gear design. Another first attributed to the Citation X is the inaugural appearance in Cessna aircraft of variance in two Rolls Royce developed AE-3007 (AE-3007C, AE-3007C1) series turbofan engines. The Honeywell Primus 2000 EFIS integrated avionics were also a new inclusion.
The two crew, 12 passenger business class jet developed for civilian use was impressive, to say the least. Powered by twin engines, the Citation X had improved upon previous Citation models exponentially in performance with the X possessing the capability to achieve a max cruise speed of 604 mph at 35,000 ft.
After several certification delays, the Citation X finally achieved certification in June of 1996 with the first plane being delivered in July of the same year to world-famous and championship-winning golfer Arnold Palmer. Since its initial inception in 1990, there have been over 300 of the Citation X aircraft produced.
In 2010, Cessna announced an initiative to further improve upon the Citation X design. Commonly referred to as Citation X+, the innovations included an upcycle to the twin Rolls Royce engines with the next generation AE3007C2 inclusion, integration of Garmin G5000 flight displays as well as improvements in performance, fuel consumption, and maximum payload capacity. Additionally, the length and width has been increased and the wingspan has been elongated as well.
Despite these improvements, the current jet market is seeing a trend in demand for mid-size jets as opposed to the larger aircraft of 20 years ago. This increase in demand for moderately sized aircraft is resulting in a slump in orders for the older model business class jet aircraft like the Citation X. Cessna itself is making plans to introduce newer models their team has been developing to the aviation industry. Many experts are reporting that the aircraft manufacturer is hoping to enliven their customer base and entreat new fans to take notice of what super-midsize business jets like the Citation Longitude have to offer. The Citation Longitude is expected to achieve certification sometime this year.
Regardless of what the future holds for the Citation X, it’s important to see the jet for the powerhouse and extraordinary example of aircraft innovation and design that it is. In doing so, the benchmark Citation X and its counterparts headed for retirement will serve as the industry standard for all newer business class jet development to aspire to.