The Cessna Citation sovereign has always defied classification. Its coast-to-coast range, 12-passenger seating capacity, and 500-plus mph cruising speed can place it in the super midsize category. Yet the Sovereign has the short-runway performance, fuel economy, and price of a smaller aircraft. As attractive as these features have made the jet, Cessna announced last fall that it had begun producing a better version of the Sovereign, comparably priced—at nearly $18 million—to the current model. In other words, buyers can have the upgrades essentially for free. Cessna expects to begin deliveries of the new aircraft in July.
Why fix what isn’t broken? According to Cessna’s Kelly Reich, whose corporate title is “business leader in jets,” the company wanted to add more range and a new flight deck. “The way people use aircraft is always changing, and so is the technology,” he says.
The range of the new Sovereign has been increased by 176 miles, stretching it to 3,452 miles and improving the aircraft’s capability of traveling coast-to-coast nonstop. The current model can complete many cross-country trips without landing to refuel, but with some routes, such as Boston to San Diego, headwinds can force a fuel stop. The boost in range comes primarily from the addition of small winglets that enable the aircraft to climb directly to its 45,000-foot cruising altitude.
The cockpit will be equipped with a new Garmin G5000 avionics system. The G5000 includes touchscreens, auto-throttle, and synthetic vision. This last feature produces a computer-generated view of the terrain below, which can be especially useful in poor weather. Eventually the G5000 will be available in several other jets in the Cessna line. “We’d like to have a common platform across a fleet of aircraft,” says Reich.
Cessna was so confident that the upgrades would be a success that it began production on the new Sovereign without announcing its plans. “I don’t know of any other aircraft manufacturer that has done that,” says Reich. The official announcement came in October, at the National Business Aviation Association convention in Orlando, Fla. There, instead of accompanying the announcement with brochures or even a mock-up of the new aircraft—as companies commonly do—Cessna unveiled production model number one. The aircraft was fully outfitted with an interior that included Clairity, the aircraft’s new cabin-management system. The system enables passengers to use the touchscreens at their seats to control the lighting, the shades on the windows, and other functions, and also includes an entertainment system that syncs with laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The upgraded Sovereign’s interior is also outfitted with newly designed seats (with optional footrests and lumbar support) that are angled away from the cabin walls to offer more legroom.