The Mustang cockpit is probably the most remarkable advance in light jet design with its Garmin G1000 system, which handles all traditional instrument and avionics functions, plus it is the pilot interface with aircraft systems. In the past couple of years we have all become accustomed to flat-panel primary flight displays in even light piston singles, but the full integration of the G1000 in the Mustang is at a level seen only in much larger and more expensive jets so far.
The biggest difference is the G1000 engine indicating and crew alerting system (eicas) capability. Gone are the rows of warning lights that announce the failure of a system or warn of an abnormal situation. In place of those lights are plain English alerts and warnings that you simply read off the giant 15-inch multi-function display (MFD) in the center of the cockpit. Master warning and caution lights draw your attention to the display, but after that there is nothing to decode because the message is in plain language.
There are many differences between the G1000 system in the Mustang and the systems installed in piston airplanes, with the enormous MFD being the most obvious. But the most important difference is that in the Mustang, the G1000 is a completely dual system with at least two of every necessary element installed, so that automatic comparisons can be made to detect faults, and no essential information is lost after the failure of any element. That even extends to the autopilot, which is a dual channel fail passive system, meaning that if the system detects a fault in any one channel in any axis, it shuts off that channel, and you can continue to use the autopilot for the remainder of the flight.
In late June I had a chance to fly Mustang number two, which is the third one built. Cessna does not count the prototype, even though it was built on production tooling, because it will never be sold since prototypes need extensive modification for early flight testing. The greatest initial impression of Mustang number two-other than its overall visual appeal and substantial size for a light jet-is the quality of the workmanship. Cessna has made giant strides over the years in fit and finish, and the Mustang is already right there at the high level of other Citations that have been in production for years. Computer-aided design and advanced tooling in the manufacturing plant are partly responsible for the excellent results, but there is also a huge element of experience gained from building so many thousands of jets.
Most of the skin on the wing and fuselage is metal bonded, which helps give the surface a very smooth and ripple-free appearance. The Mustang is made entirely from metal, except for the radome, of course, a couple fairings and the inverted-V-shaped ventral fins under the tail cone. The fins were added after the Mustang was in flight test and, as they do on so many other jets, improve low-speed and stall behavior, and also provide very positive yaw damping. Because of their highly swept leading edge the fins generate virtually no lift in steady cruising flight, so they add no drag. But when the angle of attack is high the fins produce gobs of lift, which pushes the nose down as the wing nears a stall. The same happens when the airplane yaws and the fins go from their neutral angle of attack and create lift to drive the nose back toward center. The fins are so effective that the Mustang meets the latest, and very demanding, yaw damping requirements even at 41,000 feet without the electronic yaw damper operating. The composite construction of the fins adds very little weight, and they do not need ice protection.
The Mustang uses pneumatic boots to deice the leading edges and hot bleed air to prevent ice formation on the engine air inlet. By early summer Cessna had completed all certification ice testing except for one natural ice condition that the flight test guys were still trying to find. As you probably know, icing is one of the hottest hot buttons with the FAA right now and the rules are being interpreted to mean that any new airplane must meet all stall and other flying qualities standards with residual ice on the airframe. The standards are exactly the same as for a totally clean airplane. Cessna had expected not to need to protect the vertical fin from ice as is the case on most jets, but to meet the heightened standards the Mustang now has a boot on the fin. Testing also revealed an unusual condition at the stall with residual ice on the wing, and that issue has been resolved by adding triangular "Wheeler" vortex generators to the wing boot.
Something as seemingly simple as a cabin door is anything but simple, but Cessna has drawn on its previous experience to create one of the easiest to operate that I have yet encountered. The door is symmetrical, the locking pins are huge, but the mechanism that extends and retracts the pins is so well designed that you can flip it with barely two fingers.
Once inside the Mustang cabin I think you will feel that you are in a much larger airplane. The cabin is actually five inches smaller than the cross section of the CJ, but the difference isn't noticeable. The big oval windows with their high location get much of the credit, but the Mustang cabin is not a circle like other Citations, giving you more room at the floor and shoulder. The four seats are fixed but the aft-facing seats recline. There is a potty seat directly aft of the copilot but, as in all light jets, I think it will be an emergency use only device.
The Mustang cockpit is unlike any other light jet I have flown. The control wheels extend from the instrument panel instead of being mounted atop vertical columns as in most other jets. That really opens up the cockpit. And, there is only a very short center pedestal, and it does not extend to the cockpit floor. You can sit in either pilot seat and swing your toes under the pedestal, or in flight, if alone, you can stretch out your feet to the other side of the cockpit. I'm 6 '2 "and had as much or more headroom, and space in general, in the Mustang as I have found in any other light or even medium-sized jet. And the smooth wraparound windshields and side windows provide excellent visibility, even back to the wing tips and beyond.
Cessna retained its toggle switches to control primary systems, and that's just fine with me. The toggle switch is both an actuator and, by looking at its position, a status indication. The lighted push buttons of much more expensive jets are wonderful, but to turn on the landing lights or pitot heat, for example, it's hard to beat the simplicity and reliability of a toggle switch.