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LCC No More: Say Hello To The Cessna Citation Columbus
LCC No More: Say Hello To The Cessna Citation Columbus

Just moments ago, Cessna revealed at a press conference in Washington, DC details of its recently-announced large cabin, intercontinental aircraft... the Model 850 Citation Columbus. Introduced as a proof-of-concept at NBAA 2006, Cessna was given the go-ahead for the program by the Textron board of directors in January.

The Citation Columbus is designed for intercontinental travel with a target range of 4,000 nautical miles at Mach .80 carrying eight passengers. With the new plane will come a new turbofan -- the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW810 -- and Rockwell Collins´ new Pro Line Fusion advanced avionics system. Cessna states it has reached an agreement in principle with Spirit AeroSystems to produce the fuselage and empennage. Details will be finalized in the coming weeks, according to the company.

The all-new aircraft is Cessna´s largest business jet to date, and is expected to lead its segment with its combination of speed and range. The aircraft´s large cabin is expected to exceed top competitor passenger seating room. The Columbus follows the design philosophy of other Citations by using an aluminum airframe, and it contains structural and cabin interior features to maximize interior cabin space.

"We´ve spent the past five years deepening our customer and segment knowledge so that we can be sure we are introducing a transcontinental aircraft that the market wants," said Jack J. Pelton, chairman, president and CEO of Cessna. "The Citation Columbus is being designed to be the best value proposition in its class. It will be manufactured with a strong focus on reliability and ease of maintenance.

"This provides the perfect platform at the top end of our product line for customers looking for more space, more range, more economy and more capability," he added. "This aircraft will be Cessna´s greatest achievement."

The Citation Columbus is expected to be the only aircraft in the large-cabin class capable of 4,000 nautical miles non-stop at Mach .80. Preliminary performance numbers set a maximum cruise speed of 488 knots (Mach .85), a maximum operating speed of Mach .86, a full fuel payload of 1,950 pounds and takeoff field length of 5,400 feet at maximum takeoff weight.

"In naming this new model, we looked for a word that embodies the spirit of our company and the performance of this airplane," Pelton said. "With an adventurous and visionary attitude, explorer Christopher Columbus is globally recognized as one of the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean. That inspired us as we worked toward our design goal. The Columbus opens up so many non-stop transcontinental routes: Munich to New York, London to Dubai, Sydney to Singapore, Sao Paulo to Miami, and many other trips."

The 850 boasts a total length of 77 feet (23.5 meters) and a wingspan of 80 feet (24.4 meters), with interior and exterior storage compartments. Its cabin length of 36.3 feet (11.1 meters) including interior baggage space is the longest in its class by nearly two feet.

Configurable for up to 10 passengers, the cabin has generous seating room and a low flat floor that provides standing aisle height of 73 inches (1.85 meters). The interior balances style and functionality while providing comfort, features and the flexibility passengers expect with intercontinental range. Crew seats, passenger seats, forward jump seat and an optional couch are all-new designs.

Cessna says its engineering team and its co-development suppliers have designed the clean-sheet Columbus to be one of the most advanced, fuel-efficient, cleanest business jets ever conceived. The newly-engineered wing is moderately swept, and the entire aircraft surface is contoured based on results from the computational fluid dynamics analysis and wind tunnel verification, which allow for a design that supports the highest speeds with the highest efficiency and least amount of drag. The 850 will debut Pratt & Whitney Canada´s next-generation, 8,830 pound-thrust PW810, an environmentally friendly engine that features reductions in fuel burn, emissions and noise. The PW810 engine, which takes advantage of the latest proven advances in material, aerodynamic and design technologies, will offer high reliability at entry into service as well as thrust growth capability. The cockpit will feature Pro Line Fusion avionics from Rockwell Collins, which combines the capabilities of Pro Line 21 with significant technological advancements. The fully integrated flight deck has four landscape high-resolution 15-inch liquid crystal displays working in concert with graphical flight planning, synthetic-enhanced vision, auto throttle, Rockwell Collins´ award-winning MultiScan Hazard Detection system and an optional head-up display.

The initial price estimate for the Citation Columbus is $ 27 million in 2008 US dollars. Cessna plans to achieve Federal Aviation Administration certification by the end of 2013, with deliveries beginning in 2014.

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