BizAv history X


The new Cessna Citation X flying over river with snow

Cessna’s decision to end production of the Cessna Citation X+ might not have come as much of a surprise, but to many people, the aircraft is a piece of history.

Up until the original Citation X, none of Cessna’s business jets could be described as poster material. They were functional, they were reliable and whilst all very capable aircraft, they were, if you will, boring.

The Citation X changed that. It was the Lamborghini Countach of business aviation. And it didn’t need a scantily clad lady draped over it to attract buyers.

In designing the Citation X, Cessna eked out all of the aerodynamic improvements it could. From the wing with the highest sweep of any business jet, to the highly swept horizontal and vertical stabilisers, everything about the Citation X screams speed. Even when parked stationary on the ramp, it still looks like it is moving.

The aircraft might not have had the widest cabin in its class; the Bombardier Challenger 604 that was released in the same year has a cabin that is 2.57ft wider. But even Concorde’s cabin couldn’t exactly be described as luxurious.

The Citation X was not designed for comfort, it was designed for speed. And that’s exactly what it delivered. You might have been more comfortable flying in the Challenger 604, but you would get to your destination faster in the Citation X. The speed advantage was one of the main reasons NetJets chose to operate the Citation X, eventually placing a large order for 60 aircraft.

That the aircraft kept its crown as the fastest business jet is nothing less than remarkable, although there have been challengers, most notably the Gulfstream G650.

Gulfstream’s current flagship briefly held the title of the fastest business jet, having a maximum speed of Mach 0.925, but Cessna soon introduced an improved version called the Citation X+, which upped the speed race to Mach 0.935.

The latest generation of business aviation professionals and enthusiasts barely raised an eyebrow when they heard that production of the aircraft would end.

But for those of us who remember its entry into service, the Citation X still merits its honoured place in the history of business aviation.