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Longitude first flight expected in coming weeks

Textron Aviation unveiled a prototype of its Cessna Citation Longitude super midsize business jet at the National Business Aviation Association Convention in 2015 in Las Vegas.
Textron Aviation unveiled a prototype of its Cessna Citation Longitude super midsize business jet at the National Business Aviation Association Convention in 2015 in Las Vegas. The Wichita Eagle

Textron Aviation is closing in on first flight of the largest Citation business jet it has ever built.

The Wichita-based company on Tuesday said it completed initial ground testing of the Cessna Citation Longitude’s Honeywell engines. The testing included verifying engine start, fuel system and auto-throttle as well as the turbofan engines’ interactions with the airplane’s avionics and electrical and hydraulic systems.

“This step really allows us to prove the maturity of the aircraft and its systems,” Textron Aviation CEO Scott Ernest said in a news release. “Following this, we will do a series of functional and structural tests on the airframe in preparation for first flight.”

First flight should happen “in the coming weeks,” Textron Aviation said in the release.

The engine tests follow the attachment of the 73-foot-long wing to the first Longitude’s fuselage in May, followed by the powering of the $23.9 million jet’s electrical system in June.

The company is targeting Federal Aviation Administration certification of the super midsize jet next year.

The Longitude will be larger than the Citation X+, which is currently the company’s largest Citation jet.

It also will be the first Citation to be assembled in the former Beechcraft factory in east Wichita. The Longitude line will be alongside the King Air turboprop assembly line in Plant IV at 101 N. Greenwich.

Textron acquired Beechcraft in 2014.

Textron Aviation Cessna's Kevin Steinert discusses the business jet maker's newest -- and biggest -- airplane, from the National Business Aviation Association Convention in Las Vegas. Video by Jerry Siebenmark / Nov. 18, 2015)

Jerry Siebenmark: 316-268-6576, @jsiebenmark

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