Cessna, which made its name in the turbofan business with simple and strong light jets, is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first flight of the Cessna 525 CitationJet, the company’s groundbreaking single-pilot jet that first took flight in late April of 1991. That airplane, equipped with an all-new laminar flow wing and powered by a new generation of engines, the FJ44 produced by then-upstart Williams International, was designed for single-pilot operation and would overcome many of the limitations of the larger, more-complex-but-slower Citation I that it replaced in Cessna’s lineup at the entry point to the Citation line. The CitationJet was an immediate hit.
The CitationJet lineup that began with the first “CJ” would eventually be spun off into a number of different models, the CJ1, CJ1+, CJ2, CJ2+, CJ3 and culminating in today’s CitationJet flagship, the CJ4, which features flat-panel avionics, full authority digital engine control, greater seating capacity and which has a top cruise speed of better than 450 knots. The bottom line is, the CitationJet line has revolutionized the way we see light jets, establishing single-pilot design and owner-flown economics as the norm in a segment that not too long ago was done with crewed airplanes and much higher operating costs. And the results of Cessna’s efforts have paid off for the Wichita planemaker. Over the years Cessna has produced 1,450 CitationJets and counting.