Cessna celebrates in September the 50th anniversary of the first flight of the Citation 500, the aircraft that gave rise to the world’s most popular business jet series, which now has more than 7,500 units delivered.
Launched in October 1968 as the Fanjet 500, the first Cessna-designed business jet made its maiden flight on September 15, 1969 from the manufacturer’s Wichita, Kansas facility. A year later, the aircraft renamed Citation 500 was certified to fly in the US and first deliveries began in January 1972.
“From that first Citation flight 50 years ago and through every Citation model produced since, our business jet programs are deeply rooted in the combined efforts of our employees, our suppliers and our customers,” said Ron Draper, president and CEO of Textron Aviation. “Today’s range of Citations – from the entry level Citation M2 up through the Citation Longitude – incorporates our unwavering commitment to value-added innovation, design and production excellence and unrivaled customer support.”
The first Citation variant hit the US market at about $ 695,000, much lower than other business jets in the 1970s, such as Lockheed Jetstar, a pioneer in the segment that could be worth over $ 2.5 million, such amazing value at the time. In addition to being cheaper, the Cessna jet was simpler to maintain and fly and still outperformed competitors with a noise level considered low 50 years ago.
The Citation 500 reached a top speed of 650 km/h and had a range of up to 2,430 km with six passengers, a performance considered remarkable in the early 1970s.
When Cessna launched the Citation 500, the small business jet category was still in its beginning and had only representatives of the first Learjet aircraft (later acquired by Bombardier), which debuted in 1964, and the Hansa Jet, introduced in 1967 and which sold little.
From a small model with a simple design, the Citation has evolved in different ways over the years and the series today consists of seven models with capacities of up to 12 passengers. These are the entry-level M2 model, the CJ3 + and CJ4 light jets, the XLS + super-light jet, the super middle-class Sovereign + and Latitude mid-range models, which will be delivered by the end of this year.
“The same vision that led to the creation of the original Citation 50 years ago still guides us today,” Draper said. “We are building on our history as an industry leader and investing in the future to continue to exceed customer expectations.”