Cessna Citation CJ3 Guide and Specs

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Introduction

As is clear from the name, the Cessna Citation CJ3 is one of Cessna‘s Citation Jet family, of which there are several different models.  The Citation CJ3 was initially certified in 2004 and was a development of the earlier CJ1 and CJ2.  The new CJ3 offered increased performance and several other changes.  Aircraft deliveries started in December of that year.  The cockpit was designed for single-pilot operations but could accommodate two crew members if required.  The cabin had space for six passengers normally but could take up to eight if required.

Between 2004 and 2014, when the type was upgraded to the Citation CJ3+, approximately 400 examples of the CJ3 were produced by Cessna (now Textron Aviation).  They proved to be very popular with pilots looking for a light jet, as the type had few competitors.  The CJ3+, when it came along, was identical in terms of performance, operating cost, and interior configuration, the main differences being in some of the flight deck instrumentation.

Between late 2004 and Spring 2018, a total of 500 Citation CJ3 and CJ3+ aircraft were delivered, and both types continue to do well, even though production of the CJ3 has now ceased.  The CJ3+ continues to be manufactured right up to the present day.

Specifications

Exterior

  • Exterior Height: 15 ft 2 in
  • Wing Span: 53 ft 3 in
  • Length: 51 ft 2 in
  • External Baggage: 65 cu ft

Interior

  • Cabin Height: 4 ft 9 In
  • Cabin Width: 4 ft 10 In
  • Cabin Length: 15 ft 8 In
  • Cabin Volume: 286 cu ft
  • Door Height: 4 ft 4 In
  • Door Width: 2 ft

Occupancy

  • Crew: 1
  • Passengers: 7

Operating Weights

  • Max T/O Weight: 13870 Lb
  • Max Landing Weight: 12750 Lb
  • Operating Weight: 8585 Lb
  • Fuel Capacity: 4710 lbs Lb
  • Payload Useful: 5530 Lb
  • Payload W/Full Fuel: 820 Lb
  • Max Payload: 1925 Lb

Range

  • Normal Range: 1374 nm
  • Max Range: 2040 nm
  • Service Ceiling: 45000 ft

Distances

  • Take-off Distance: 3180 ft
  • Balanced Field Length: 3440 ft
  • Landing Distance: 2770 ft

Performance

  • Rate of Climb: 4478 fpm
  • Climb Rate One Engine Inop: 1090 fpm
  • Max Speed: 417 kts
  • Normal Cruise: 417 kts
  • Economy Cruise: 348 kts
  • Cost per Hour: $ 1,825.45

Power Plant

  • Engines: 2
  • Engine Mfg: Williams
  • Engine Model: FJ44-3A

Prices

According to one reputable source, the price of a Cessna Citation CJ3 varied between $4.20 and $5.00 million for models produced between 2011 and 2015, which were the last five years of production, before the CJ3+ took over.

However, things are not quite that simple, as even aircrafts produced in the same year can vary significantly in price.  The cost price will depend on several factors, with the year of production only being one of them.  It will also depend on how the individual aircraft have been equipped, configured, and modified, and of course, on its maintenance and general condition.  Buyers should look for obvious signs of wear and tear and how close the aircraft is to needing any major overhauls and inspections, which could prove very expensive.

All of these factors, and others, will affect the sale price of a Citation CJ3, and the value is ultimately an individual matter to be negotiated between buyer and seller.  So the figures given above can only be taken as an approximate guide.

Performance and Handling

The Citation CJ3’s performance is generally perceived as excellent and has been described as ‘incredible’ and ‘awesome’ by some aviation correspondents.  On take-off, acceleration is speedy.  The aircraft also has excellent short-field performance and an amazingly long range of 2100 nautical miles.  Indeed, Citation CJ3s  flying eastbound from Asia have made it safely non-stop from Hawaii to California, which is around 2100 nm, proving that the book figures do work in the real world.

The same is true of the Citation CJ3’s cruise speed.  The official maximum speed is 416 KTAS.  However, one CJ3 owner claims to have seen speeds over 430KTAS on several occasions in real life.  Cessna is known for under-promising and over-delivering when it comes to performance figures, and this seems to be the case for the Citation CJ3.

According to pilots, the CJ3 handles well and is very easy to fly.  Landing is simple, with no obvious problems.  And the type also has an extremely good safety record.  There have been no fatal accidents of the CJ3 to date, and the few non-fatal ones have been attributed to pilot error in every case.  Indeed, this is not a difficult aircraft to fly, even for those without a great deal of jet experience.

When it comes to performance and handling, there is not all that much to say about the CJ3.  According to one owner, “It’s hard to beat the value it delivers. It’s fast, fun to fly, relatively economical to operate, safe, and an incredibly well-designed machine.” And that seems to sum up the type perfectly.

Maintenance Schedule

Like all aircraft, Citation CJ3s require regular maintenance to ensure that they are safe to fly.

Also, in company with other aircraft, the maintenance intervals depend primarily on the manufacturer’s guidelines, and maintenance is scheduled based on the number of hours flown.  This means that the more an aircraft flies, the more maintenance it will require.  The cost of maintenance also depends on unexpected events, such as accidents, and regular but rare occurrences, such as engine overhauls.  So maintenance schedules and costs can vary quite significantly.

It is difficult to give an accurate maintenance schedule for a Citation CJ3 or a precise cost for these reasons and others.  But one reputable source estimates an annual cost for maintenance to be in the region of $52,000 to $53,000, assuming an average number of flying hours of 200 per year.  This compares well with some other Citation models, which cost significantly more to maintain.

Textron has produced a manual of Operations and Maintenance Procedures for the CJ3, which can be found by doing an internet search.  This gives all the recommended maintenance, which Cessna thinks should be done.  Owners would be well advised to follow this when it comes to maintaining their CJ3.

Modifications and Upgrades

There have not been many changes made to the CJ3, at least until the CJ3+ came along, which is an upgraded version of the CJ3.  This upgraded aircraft was certified in 2014, with an improved flight deck, better avionics, and more modern seats in the cockpit.  This is the main modification the CJ3 has had.

However, two major upgrades have recently become available for the CJ3 that significantly boost performance and market value.  Firstly, a new ‘winglet’ design was used on the Citation CJ, CJ1, and CJ1+.  These winglets have significant benefits, including increased range, reduced time to climb, increased cruise speed, reduced fuel burn, increased maximum zero fuel weight, improved hot/high performance, and reduced wing stress.

The second upgrade is the Rockwell Collins’ Collins Pro Line Fusion system upgrade, which provides synthetic vision, touchscreen control, large, high-resolution topographical maps, and much more.  This upgrade gives the CJ3 comparable cockpit performance to the CJ3+.

Where to Find Replacement Parts

Textron Aviation’s supply and service network is perhaps the best place for replacement parts for the Citation CJ3, as for all other Cessna types.  This should probably be the first port of call for the new owner, and parts are available from Textron all over the world.  But several other companies are offering spare parts, and these can be found by doing an internet search.  In addition, there are usually some available on eBay and similar sites.

Common Problems

There are few problems with the CJ3 or most of the Citation models.  They are exceedingly safe aircraft, and to date, there have been no fatal accidents in the CJ3.  Indeed, the few non-fatal ones have all been caused by pilot error rather than mechanical issues.

I performed an internet search, specifically looking for CJ3 accidents and incidents, and found remarkably few, and, as stated above, all of them seemed to be caused by pilot error.  Indeed, I could find few references to any kind of problem at all associated with the aircraft, which is quite remarkable.  The only mention I found of any issues was controlling the cabin heat temperature, which is hardly crucial.  In addition, there are some early reports of corrosion problems in the CJ3, but apparently, these have now been sorted.  So this seems to be a completely trouble-free aircraft.

Insurance Options

As for all aircraft, insurance for the Citation CJ3 comes in two parts. Liability insurance covers against damage, loss, or injury to third parties and is compulsory.  Then comes hull insurance, which covers the value of the aircraft itself and is optional  Owners of small piston-engined aircraft sometimes decide to dispense with hull insurance.  But for obvious reasons, this is not a sensible option when considering a jet aircraft like the Citation CJ3.  For an airplane like this, both liability and hull insurance are generally considered essential.

As for all jet aircraft, there are a limited number of companies and brokers offering insurance.  Of those that exist, all are likely to require the pilot to be fairly experienced and well qualified before they agree to insure the aircraft at all.  But costs are likely to vary and will depend largely on many factors, involving both the pilot and the state of the aircraft.

That being the case, owners would be advised to check insurance companies for their own individual situations.  One company that offers this sort of insurance is Bwifly, at https://bwifly.com/cessna-citationjet-insurance-cost/. They should be able to give a good indication of what exactly they will cover and how much it will cost.

Resale Value

According to one informed source, the Citation CJ3 holds its value well.  A ten-year-old model sells for an average of $4.1 million.  That is much better than the resale price of most similar types of jet aircraft. It is said to be one reason why Cessna sold 460 Citation CJ3s over the space of a decade.

As with any other aircraft, if you are expecting to sell on your Citation CJ3 eventually, the best way to ensure a good resale price is to do all scheduled maintenance and ensure the aircraft is maintained in a good state of repair.  If you do that, you are likely to be pleasantly surprised by the resale value.

Owner Reviews

Cessna’s fleet of Citation CJ3 light jets has remained popular over the years.  Here are some opinions of owners and operators of the Citation CJ3…

“As a current owner of a 2004 CJ3, I can attest that it’s hard to beat the value it delivers. It’s fast, fun to fly, relatively economical to operate, safe, and an incredibly well-designed machine. Many thanks to Russ Meyer Jr. and his team for building and certifying a legendary airplane.”

(Citation CJ3 Owner)

“It is one of Cessna’s best-built light jets.  Once we get up there, we cruise a little slower than the airliners, but we also are above them by 5,000 to 7,000 feet. We’re not in anybody’s way, nobody is in our way, it is smoother air, and you get more direct routings [from air-traffic control] because there isn’t a whole lot of traffic up there.”

(Charter operator CEO)

“Built on the popular characteristics of a very well-established family of jets, the Cessna CJ3 provides more range, speed, useful load, and passenger capacity than its predecessors and is an extremely well-rounded, affordable Light Jet.”

(Citation CJ3 pilot)

Most other owners and operators have similar opinions.  Overall, the Citation CJ3 seems to be a very popular light jet.

Similar Aircrafts

There are not all that many competitors when it comes to the small jet market.  Of course, the more recent Cessna Citation CJ3+ is very similar but has been upgraded in several ways.

Two other aircraft which prospective owners might also consider are the Hawker 400XP and the Bombardier Learjet 31A.  Both of these are considerably cheaper to buy than the Citation CJ3.  But when it comes to running costs, both aircraft cost significantly more per hour overall.  And when it comes to factors such as speed, landing space required, and similar things, there is not a great deal of difference.

Another aircraft sometimes perceived as a competitor is the Embraer Phenom 300E.  But again, when it comes to looking at basic differences, there is not much to choose between them.

Ultimately, prospective buyers would do well to take a look at all these types before making a final decision.

Clubs You Can Join

The Cessna Pilots’ Association and the Cessna Flyers’ Association are probably the best clubs for new Citation CJ3 owners to join. However, they might find that both of these organizations tend to concentrate more on smaller piston-engined Cessnas.  Nevertheless, they could still be useful for a CJ3 owner.  But there are also one or two clubs aimed at owners and operators of all Citation jet types, and details can be found here. This is likely to be the best club for Citation CJ3 owners to join.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Is the CJ3 single pilot?

Answer: It is indeed.  It is certified for single-pilot operations, which is very useful for the owner-operator who wants to pilot the aircraft themselves.

Question: How many passengers can the CJ3 take?

Answer: It is designed to carry six passengers comfortably, and that is what the official specifications state.  However, it can accommodate up to eight passengers if required.  There is a belted lavatory seat to the aft of the cabin and an optional side-facing seat opposite the entrance.  These can be used when necessary.

Question: How many Cessna CJ3s are in operation?

Answer: As of Autumn 2021, there were 410 CJ3s in operation around the world.  Since only 416 were built, this means that almost all the ones Cessna made are still flying.

Question: What is the range of a CJ3?

Answer: The maximum range is 2,040 nautical miles or 3,778 km.

Question: What is the Cessna Citation CJ3’s maximum speed?

Answer: The maximum cruise speed is 416 ktas (770 km/h)

Question: What are the differences between the Citation CJ3 and the Citation Cj3+?

Answer: There are not a huge number of differences.  Indeed, in terms of aerodynamic and performance changes, there are no differences whatsoever.  But the cockpit has been significantly developed for the CJ3+, with the addition of the Garmin G3000 and a new interior.  These have made the CJ3+ a serious contender for the top end of the single-pilot jet world.

Conclusion

If you are in the market for a private jet, the Citation CJ3 is certainly worth considering.  It is easy to fly, has an excellent safety record, and cannot be beaten by any similar aircraft in terms of performance and handling.  There may be cheaper options, but they are unlikely to be better overall.  Pilots, on the whole, sing the praises of the type, and there are good reasons why.

Recommended Reads:

Research Citations

Globalair: https://www.globalair.com/aircraft-for-sale/Specifications?specid=1093

Business Jet Traveller:  https://www.bjtonline.com/business-jet-news/cessna-citation-cj3

AOPA: https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2017/may/pilot/turbine-living-legend-cj3

Av Buyer: https://www.avbuyer.com/articles/tag/cessna-citation-cj3

bwifly: https://bwifly.com/cessna-citationjet-insurance-cost/

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