On Monday at its Wichita headquarters, Cessna unveiled its latest bizjet. It was, as many predicted it would be, a replacement for the slot vacated when the company stopped production of its entry-level CJ, the CJ1+. The new airplane is dubbed the M2. Despite the capital “M,” it is not based on the Mustang platform, it is a CJ derivative. It has, like the CJ, Williams FJ44 engines (of around 2,000 pounds of thrust each side), and it shares in common with the CJ1+ nearly every mechanical system. It will share a type rating with the CJ1+ with differences training only.
It’s hard to see the similarities from the cockpit, however, which shines behind a new Garmin G3000 touch-controlled avionics system with large-format displays, speedy processors and remarkably intuitive ease of use. The suite features a wealth of capabilities, from charts and satellite weather to synoptics and radar.
As I said, the M2 is an interesting product in that Cessna seems to be marketing it as a Mustang follow on—they say specifically they intend it as a step-up product for Mustang owners. Cessna marketers have dubbed it the “M2,” which naturally makes one think “Mustang II,” even if Cessna doesn’t say it, and they don’t. It also features a prominent horse logo on the side of the airplane. But the airplane is a CJ through and through, a CJ, that is, that has been upgraded to the Garmin G3000 and given an interior makeover so sweeping that it’s hard to recognize the airplane as a CJ. Until you look at it from the ramp, that is.
The M2, scheduled for certification in 2013, will tempt many CJ1 and CJ1+ owners, however, as it will give them a top speed of 400 knots compared with just over 380 for the 1+, a redesigned lav, updated avionics, and excellent cabin electronics for an entry-level jet.
Perhaps the best part is the price. At $4.195 million, the M2 is $800,000 cheaper than the CJ1+ while being a greatly enhanced product. And at that price point, Cessna expects the jet to win business not only from light jet shoppers but also from customers who were originally interested in a turboprop.