Cessna is a well-known and popular American aircraft manufacturer. For many years the company concentrated on its very popular single-engined piston aircraft, for which it is best known. But in 1972 Cessna began building jet aircraft, in particular the Citation aircraft group.
Citation jets include several distinct ‘families’ of aircraft, rather than simply individual types. To date around 7,500 Citations have been manufactured, the aircraft being named after ‘Citation’, a champion Thoroughbred racehorse that won the American Triple Crown.
The Citation Sovereign, or Model 680, first flew in February 2002, and was certified in June 2004. Deliveries began in September of that year. Then in 2012 an improved Sovereign+ was announced.
This made its first flight in April 2013. It had added winglets and an improved flight deck and engines. Selling mainly to the business jet market, the Sovereign was very popular and well thought of.
But then in March 2021, Cessna announced that Sovereign+ production had been terminated, mainly to reduce market overlap between the Sovereign+ and the company’s more recent Citation models, the Citation Latitude and Citation Longitude.
But of course there are a large number of Citation Sovereigns still flying; estimates are that there are about 100 in regular use.
Specifications (Citation Sovereign+)
- Crew: 2
- Capacity: 12 passengers / 2,765 lb (1,254 kg) payload
- Length: 63 ft 6 in (19.35 m)
- Wingspan: 72 ft 4 in (22.04 m)
- Height: 20 ft 4 in (6.20 m)
- Wing area: 543 sq ft (50.4 m2)
- Aspect ratio: 9.64
- Empty weight: 18,235 lb (8,271 kg)
- Max takeoff weight: 30,775 lb (13,959 kg)
- Fuel capacity: 11,390 lb (5,166 kg) / 1,700 gal (6,435 L)
- Cabin: 68 in (1.73 m) height, 66 in (1.68 m) width
- Wing sweep: 16.3°
- Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306D turbofans, 5,907 lbf (26.28 kN) thrust each
- Maximum speed: Mach 0.80
- Cruise speed: 460 kn (530 mph, 850 km/h)
- Range: 3,200 nmi (3,700 mi, 5,900 km)
- Service ceiling: 47,000 ft (14,000 m)
- Rate of climb: 4,083 ft/min (20.74 m/s)
- Wing loading: 56.7 lb/sq ft (277 kg/m2)
- Takeoff distance: 3,530 ft (1,076 m)
- Landing distance: 2,600 ft (792 m)
A new Citation Sovereign+ will cost around $18 million. However, many slightly older models can be found at significantly cheaper prices. The average asking price overall is said to be $11 million. But it is possible to find a good Citation Sovereign for as little as $9 million.
Performance and Handling
The Sovereign+ is a sizeable aircraft, and can hold up to 12 passengers, with a maximum baggage capacity of 135 cubic feet. It can travel non-stop for up to 3,200 nautical miles (3,682 miles or 5,926 km).
The Sovereign+ can cruise comfortably at up to 47,000 feet, and has an average hourly fuel burn of 247 gallons per hour. It is said to have great short field performance, and also be capable of taking passengers coast to coast across the US. So in terms of performance it is extremely versatile.
The Sovereign has become a well thought of business aircraft in a relatively short time. So what is it that makes the Sovereign so popular among business owners?
In summary, it is the aircraft’s ability to carry a significant number of passengers for a great distance, and yet still take off from fairly short runways. It also climbs well, and does not consume too much fuel in comparison to other jet aircraft of the same size. Overall, what’s not to like?
Pilots like the Sovereign too, When it comes to handling, they find the systems make good sense and flight operations are not complicated, so that flying is smooth and comfortable.
To take a typical quote, Merle Van Sante, a 14,000-hour contract pilot who has flown several Sovereigns, has said, “If you want range, you’ve got range. Short field? No problem. Fast climb? You’ve got that. Need to haul eight or nine people? You can. It just seems to do it all.”
The design of the Sovereign is intentionally simple. It has old fashioned mechanical controls and cables, and a smattering of hydraulics.
There are a few more modern innovations where they are necessary or useful, but not too many, and none are there just for the sake of making the aircraft appear modern. And that seems to be what Cessna‘s pilots and business customers all want.
Like all aircraft, Citation Sovereigns require regular maintenance to ensure that they are safe to fly.
Also in company with other aircraft, the maintenance intervals depend on the manufacturer’s guidelines, and maintenance is scheduled based primarily on the number of hours flown. This obviously means that the more an aircraft flies, the more maintenance it will require.
However, the cost and frequency of maintenance also need to take into account any unexpected events, such as accidents, bird strikes, or tire blowouts.
Such things are rare, but they do happen, particularly when an airplane is flown frequently, and business aircraft tend to be. And you also have to factor in the cost of engine overhauls, which are not required often, but will be necessary from time to time.
For these reasons, it is difficult to give an accurate maintenance schedule for a Citation Sovereign, or a precise cost, which will apply to every plane in every situation.
However, in general terms, basic maintenance is due at 400 hours or every 12 months. And one source estimates annual maintenance to cost in the region of $72,000, with an engine overhaul, when needed, costing in excess of $100,000. It has to be said – jet aircraft are not cheap to maintain!
But the Citation Sovereign compares well with other similar aircraft.
Modifications and Upgrades
As explained above, in 2012 the original Sovereign was upgraded to the Sovereign+. The upgrades included a G5000 cockpit and the autothrottles seen on other models, an improvement in range of 150 nautical miles, and better performance on short runways.
This is the model which has been current ever since that time, and there have been no other major modifications, although minor changes are possible.
Where to Find Replacement Parts
Several specialist companies stock replacement parts for the Citation Sovereign, and these can be found quite easily by an internet search.
They include Allaero, a company specializing in replacement business aircraft parts, check here.
There is also Preferred Airparts you can check here. And, as for many fairly well-known aircraft, an internet search reveals a number of other company’s offering Sovereign parts, as well as a number of them on Ebay.
There seem to be few problems reported concerning the Citation Sovereign. This is possibly because it is a relatively simple aircraft. Indeed, according to Terry Shriner, Cessna’s senior program manager for the Sovereign, the design was actually intended to keep complexity down, with a view to giving it the reliability needed for high utilization.
Business people get annoyed if their planes can’t be used, even for a short time, as time equals money in the business world. So simple systems mean that the plane has fewer complex components to break. Consequently there appear to be few common problems, and most pilot reports are very complimentary, even after long term use.
For all aircraft, insurance comes in two parts. Liability insurance covers against damage, loss or injury to third parties, and is compulsory. Then comes hull insurance , which cover the value of the aircraft itself, which is optional Owners of small, cheap aircraft sometimes decide to dispense with hull insurance.
But for obvious reasons this is not a sensible option when you are considering an aircraft like the Sovereign+. For an airplane like this, both liability and hull insurance are generally considered essential.
However, when it comes to jet aircraft, owners may well wish to consider two other types of insurance – aviation hull war insurance and crew insurance.
The first of these provides cover for loss of the aircraft due to war, hijack, confiscation, malicious damage and other similar risks. This insurance is typically chosen by owners who will be flying private jets into hazardous destinations, which happens more often than you might think it would.
Then comes crew insurance, which allows pilots and crew members to be provided with an enhanced employee benefits package, covering items such as loss of license cover, personal accident cover and travel insurance.
Therefore it is impossible to accurately estimate the cost of Sovereign insurance, owing to there being so many variables, both in the types of insurance offered, type of flying being done, and pilot ability and experience.
However, one estimate for Sovereign+ insurance was between $20,000 and $22,000 per year. This is probably a reasonably accurate ballpark figure.
The owner of an expensive jet aircraft like a Citation Sovereign of course wants to be sure that their plane will keep its value and not depreciate too much. So does the Citation Sovereign keep its value?
According to one reputable source, the residual value of a 2008 Citation Sovereign is currently around 41% of its new value.
In real terms, this means that the 2008 List Price was $16.904 million, while the current retail value is in the region of $6.9 million. This actually compares fairly well with the resale value of other Citations, and is similar to the resale value of similar jet aircraft.
Owner and Operator Reviews
Mainly due to cost factors, not that many Sovereigns are privately owned by individual pilots, the majority being used as business jets by companies that employ a professional pilot to fly the aircraft.
So owner reviews are hard to come by. But operators of the type tend to speak highly of them. One of these was spoken to by AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association), who said the following:
“One Sovereign operator we spoke with says typical fuel burns are in the 570- to 700-pounds-per-hour range at FL 400 and above.
He also reported that with a typical load of crew plus five adults and 700 pounds of luggage, the Sovereign is able to fly from Boston’s Logan International Airport to Orange County’s John Wayne Airport with no heroics.
He praised the large luggage bin and mentioned that it is heated but not pressurized. Our operator praised the Sovereign’s “U2-like” climb rate; typically in the range of 4,000 to 6,000 feet per minute.”
Another reviewer found the following:
“As a midsize jet, the Citation Sovereign is a favorite among pilots because of its simplistic flight systems. Most of the jet’s start-up functions are automatic and little pilot involvement is necessary. Stall control technology is so advanced, the aircraft can practically correct itself in the event of a stall.
Link landing gears also assist the aircraft during taxiing and landings. The jet’s wheels and brake system can last more than 300 landings, meaning more time in the air and less time in the shop.”
These reviews seem to be fairly typical. Overall, pilots of all types like the Sovereign and can’t find much to criticise about it.
The Citation Sovereign competes with other mid-size business jets, such as the Learjet 60 and Hawker 900. The Learjet cruises faster with less fuel, but its cabin is smaller. The slower Hawker 900 has less range and a wider but shorter cabin. The Gulfstream G150 has more speed, and fuel economy.
In summary, although not perfect in every respect, the Citation Sovereign is often considered to be exactly what a business jet should be – comfortable, high-performing, and economical.
The best feature of the Sovereign is probably its range. Like large jets, it can travel coast to coast, but it still retains those features that make mid-size private jets so advantageous. For example, it can take off in under 4,000 feet, a feat still unmatched by other mid-sized jets, and can cruise at around 458 knots.
So although there are a number of similar business jets, the Sovereign is often considered to be better overall than its competitors.
Clubs You Can Join
Unlike when you’re an aircraft owner for smaller aircraft, in particular those used by many private pilots, it is quite difficult to find clubs specializing in mid-size business jets.
It is likely that business owners and their professional pilots simply do not join clubs, on the whole. However, owners and operators can probably find help and advice from the Cessna Pilots’ Association
There is also the Cessna Flyers Association
But it must be said that both of these concentrate more on Cessna piston singles and twins. However, there is a group on Facebook called “Citation 680/680A Sovereign & Latitude”, which looks as though it might be a useful resource for a Sovereign owner or operator.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How Fast is a Citation Sovereign?
Answer: A Sovereign can cruise at speeds up to 458 knots (527 mph or 848 km/hr) in comfort.
Question: What is the Range of a Citation Sovereign?
Answer: 5273 km. This means in practical terms that it can cross the United States non-stop carrying five passengers and full fuel.
Question: Is the Citation Sovereign a Single Pilot Aircraft?
Answer: It is indeed. Cessna has long been the leader in single-pilot jet aircraft, with multiple different Citation models built for solo operations. In company with the other Citation models, the Sovereign only requires one pilot.
Question: How Many Passengers Can a Citation Sovereign Carry?
Answer: It typically seats up to nine passengers. However, in some configurations twelve passengers are possible. Of course, fewer passengers mean more fuel can be carried, with a correspondingly greater range.
If you are in the market for a mid-size business jet, either as a private owner or a business, the Cessna Citation Sovereign+ is definitely well worth considering.
While it may not be the fastest or most innovative in its class, it does what it sets out to do extremely well. There is a reason why the Sovereign has been on the market, with almost no substantial changes, for almost ten years.
Many companies and individuals have sung its praises during that time, and you may well find that they were right to do so.
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- Magellan Jets. https://magellanjets.com/blog/pilot-review-citation-sovereign.html
- Business Jet Traveller. https://www.bjtonline.com/aircraft/cessna-citation-sovereign-0
- Cessna Pilots Association https://cessna.org/
- Cessna Flyers Association https://www.cessnaflyer.org/
- Compare Private Planes. https://compareprivateplanes.com/articles/cessna-citation-sovereign-plus-ownership-operating-costs
- Av Buyer https://www.avbuyer.com/articles/ownership/what-s-your-citation-jet-worth-today-111915
- Flight Global. https://www.flightglobal.com/flight-test-cessna-citation-soverign-mid-size-marvel/57079.article
- Preferred Airparts. https://www.preferredairparts.com/citation