Cessna Unveils Its Largest Business Jet

In February Cessna announced details of its new Model 850 Citation Columbus, the first business jet in the line to have a flat-floor cabin with 6-feet 1-inch stand-up headroom. The Columbus promises 4,000 nm of IFR range flying at Mach .80 (459 knots) while carrying eight passengers. The airplane is an all-new design and will be powered by P&W 810 engines, first in a new family from Pratt. The engine will be rated at 8,830 pounds of thrust and will surpass all standards for emissions and noise.

Cessna began showing a mock-up of its concept for the Columbus more than a year ago, but details were not announced. Now, with the official launch, Cessna says the Columbus will make a first flight in 2011, receive certification in 2013 and enter service in 2014. The price is $27 million in today's dollars, and Cessna expects to invest $780 million in total development costs.

The Columbus will have an all-new wing with a very long span of 80 feet. The airframe, including the wing, will be made from metal. The wing has only moderate sweep, but features a low-drag airfoil that will deliver high-speed cruise of Mach .85 (488 knots), and the efficiency to be the only business jet in the super midsize category to have a range of 4,000 nm. The cabin is also the longest in the class at 36.3 feet, and standard configuration will have seating for eight to 10 passengers and a full-fuel payload of 1,950 pounds.

Cessna did not announce maximum takeoff weight or fuel capacity targets, but did promise a takeoff runway length of 5,400 feet at max weight. Certified ceiling for the Columbus will be 45,000 feet, but Cessna has upped the pressurization differential so that maximum cabin altitude will be 6,700 feet.

Collins will be the principal avionics supplier featuring its new Pro Line Fusion system with four 15-inch flat panel displays, synthetic vision, autothrottle, dual flight management systems (FMS) and optional head-up display.

In the past 10 years Cessna has developed two other all-new jets, the midsize Sovereign and the entry-level Mustang, both meeting their design objectives, so the company has a proven track record. This time Cessna is following the lead of all other major aerospace companies by contracting with others to build major parts of the Columbus. Spirit AeroSystems, the former Boeing Wichita operation, will produce the fuselage and empennage. "This airplane will be Cessna's greatest achievement," Cessna boss Jack Pelton said. Who could argue?


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