Cessna Mustang Rocks Jet World

Cessna's introduction of the very light Mustang jet could signal a big battle for owner-pilots worldwide.

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Cessna Citation Mustang

At the National Business Aviation Association Convention in Orlando in September Cessna announced that it will build an all-new very light jet, the Citation Mustang, and will also develop a new Citation, the CJ3, which has a larger cabin and more powerful engines than the wildly successful CJ2.

The Mustang, priced at $2.295 million, is a four-passenger jet that will weigh around 8,000 pounds, cruise at 340 knots and have a ceiling of 41,000 feet. Cessna has not yet made any of the major component supplier decisions, but the engines will likely be either 600- series Pratt & Whitney or FJ33-series Williams turbofans in the 1,500-pound thrust category. The avionics supplier has not been selected either, but Cessna says the cockpit will feature large electronic displays with a standard flight management system (FMS).

The Mustang is expected to have a 1,300-nm IFR range and a full-fuel payload of 600 pounds, not counting a single pilot. Takeoff distance is forecast to be 3,120 feet, and that is with engine-out minimum climb profile requirements that all other jets so far certified deliver.

Cessna made the surprising announcement?even though the existence of a very light jet program had been rumored for some time?very early in the development cycle. Certification of the Mustang is slated for the summer of 2006 with first deliveries late that year.

The new CJ3 cabin will be two feet longer than that of the CJ2. To carry the extra cabin size and weight, the wing-span will be increased 21 inches by stretching the wing root and flap while retaining the CJ2's outer wing. The vertical fin will also gain six inches in height.

Maximum takeoff weight goes up to 13,870 pounds, so Cessna needed more power for the CJ3. After a tough competition between Williams and Pratt & Whitney, Cessna selected the new Williams FJ44-3-rated at 2,780 pounds thrust for takeoff with a full authority digital engine computer (FADEC). The new engine has 14 percent more takeoff thrust, and 12 percent greater thrust at cruise, compared to the FJ44-2 engine on the CJ2.

Maximum cruise speed for the CJ3 is projected to be 417 knots at 33,000 feet and 392 knots at the more fuel efficient level of 45,000 feet. IFR range with two pilots, four passengers and baggage is expected to be 1,664 nm. Takeoff runway length at sea level, ISA, is expected to be 3,450 feet, and Cessna expects the CJ3 to climb to 41,000 feet in 21 minutes.

The Collins Pro Line 21 avionics system in the CJ3 will offer all the features of the system in the CJ2 plus a Collins FMS-3000 flight management system, which can contain a performance database to provide all takeoff, landing, climb and cruise data.

Cessna expects the first CJ3 to fly in the second quarter of 2003, with certification the following summer. Because the CJ3 will weigh more than 12,500 pounds for takeoff, it will be certified in the commuter category of FAR Part 23 instead of standard Part 23, as the CJ1 and CJ2 are. The first deliveries are scheduled for the third quarter of 2004. The CJ3 base price is $5,795,000 in 2002 dollars. Cessna reported hundreds of orders for both new Citations within days of their announcement.