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Cessna’s Citation Latitude makes first flight

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, at 2:24 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, at 7 a.m.

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Cessna Aircraft’s new midsize business jet, the Citation Latitude, made its maiden flight on Tuesday, a milestone in the development program.

“The airplane handles wonderfully,” Aaron Tobias, Cessna’s senior flight test pilot, said after the flight. “It’s an easy-flying Cessna.”

The pilots were able to successfully complete all tests planned for the first flight. All systems performed as expected, Tobias said.

They were able to test all the major systems, avionics, flaps, landing gear, pressurization system, anti-ice capabilities, stability and control.

“To go out and run the card as we did today amazes me,” Tobias said.

The test flight lasted just under 2.5 hours. The plane reached an altitude of 28,000 feet and attained speeds of 230 mph.

Cessna announced the new product at the National Business Aviation Association’s annual convention in October 2011 in Las Vegas.

The Latitude will hold up to nine passengers and has a range of 2,500 nautical miles. Certification and entry into service are expected in the second quarter of 2015.

The Latitude is positioned between Cessna’s Citation XLS Plus and Citation Sovereign in the company’s product line. It will have a flat floor to allow stand-up access in the 16-plus-foot cabin.

“You climb in and sit in the seat, and you really feel the space,” Tobias said. An extra 12 inches in the fuselage’s width makes a difference.

“It doesn’t sound like much, but you get in there and it’s substantial,” he said.

The new larger four-piece windshield opens up the sight lines from the cockpit, he said.

In 2012, Cessna announced an order from launch customer NetJets, a fractional ownership operator, for up to 150 Citation Latitudes. Deliveries will begin to NetJets in 2016.

The company has received good interest in the plane, said Cessna spokeswoman Stephanie Harder.

The Latitude was built from the Sovereign design, but with a larger-diameter cabin and shorter fuselage. The plane was designed from customer input.

“The biggest challenge was laying out a very aggressive schedule,” said Michael Thacker, Cessna senior vice president of engineering. “We’ve been able to execute and bring it along right on schedule.”

The plane was engineered efficiently and on an accelerated schedule, officials said.

On the next flight, planned for Wednesday, Tobias said he will take the plane up to 45,000 feet and fly at 506 mph.

Cessna has certified 18 different aircraft in the past decade, the company said.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @mmcmillin.

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