To understand the Citation X, introduced as the world’s fastest private jet, one needs to contextualize it in the Cessna Citation lineage. The Learjet is fast, the Citation is slow. If this statement seems too generic and absurd, that is because it is.
However, back in the 1970s, there was some truth in this generalization, and the slowpoke reputation bothered Cessna to the point of designing an aircraft with blistering speeds as a project requirement. The blame for the reputation lay in the philosophies incorporated by the competing bureaus.
During the early days of The Great Business Jet Race, the Learjet came in with a hotrod design rooted on a cancelled Swiss fighter aircraft project.
With its sleek profile and swept wings, performance, and handling for the early Learjet series were fitting for a fighter – high top speeds, excellent climb performance, but tricky at slow speeds and with mediocre short field performance. The Learjet 25 introduced in 1967 cruised at Mach 0.81 (464 KTAS) at FL410 and could fly up to FL450.
Cessna, in turn, had opted to stick with what they did best in their general aviation line: straight wing airplane with very predictable handling, honest but hardly impressive performance, and able to work off most runways. The first Citation series to hit the market in 1971, the Citation I, followed that philosophy to the letter.
The aircraft could work out of very short airstrips for a jet, particularly at the time, and was nothing short of a dream to fly. Its stall speed was of only 82 KIAS!
Trade-offs were as expected, however – the maximum speed of the Citation I, also known as Model 500, was an uninspiring Mach 0.705. The aircraft’s standard cruise settings were an airspace of 357 KTAS flown at FL350, with a service ceiling of FL410.
With the slow speed/good handling reputation cemented, Cessna attempted to break away from it with the Citation III, announced in the 1976 NBAA convention and scheduled to be delivered in 1980.
After considerable delays, the first Cessna Citation III was finally delivered in October 1982. Compared to the straight wing citations, performance was night and day.
The very first production model set two time-to-altitude records, 12 minutes and 1 second to 39350 ft and 23 minutes and 43 seconds to 492000 ft, and an airspeed record by traveling from Gander in Canada to Paris, France, in only 5 hours and 13 minutes.
The Citation III enjoyed a top speed of Mach 0.851 and a cruise speed of 472 KTAS, which grew to 476 KTAS in later models. The impressive speed performance was married by a high service ceiling at FL510 and a range of 2348 nmi with six people aboard.
The need for speed was partially initiated by Cessna as an image concern, but its customers also requested more during a meeting in 1990 despite the Citation III being in the top bracket of business jets in terms of top and cruise speeds.
This became a core goal of the proposed 750 series. After a repeat of Citation III’s certification program marred by delays, the first Cessna Citation X was finally delivered in 1996 to golfer and avid Cessna enthusiast Arnold Palmer.
Citation X / Specs
The Cessna Citation X is a twin-engine medium size business jet. Its exterior is characterized by a 37º swept wing with 527 sqft of area, which allows for extremely high speeds for business jets. For comparison, the Citation X’s top speed is slightly higher than the Vne of the Soviet Mikoyan-i-Gurevich MiG-15bis fighter of Korean war fame.
The Citation X is spiritually rooted on the 1983 Citation III, with both models sharing the fuselage cross section dimensions. The rest of the aircraft is all-new, however. Parts commonality with the Citation III, VI and VII is limited to some cockpit controls, the windshield glass, and the light bulb on the tail.
Unlike previous designs powered by Garrett medium-bypass turbofan engines, the Cessna Citation X uses a pair of high-bypass Rolls-Royce AE 3007C engines, producing 6442 lbf of thrust each. After the first 172 units were produced, this was changed to the AE 3007C1 variant, which outputs an additional 322 lbf.
Their bypass ratio is of 5:1, which grants them excellent fuel efficiency and makes them quieter. All Citation X units are fitted with a Honeywell GTCP36-150X APU.
Flight controls on the Citation X are powered by two redundant hydraulic systems. Control along the pitch axis is provided by two elevators, but the horizontal stabilizer itself is all-moving for trimming.
Both design decisions were mandated by the high-speed requirement: flight controls become extremely heavy to actuate manually as speeds increase, particularly in the transonic region.
The hydraulic flight controls on the Citation X and all-moving stabilizer allow lowered pilot workload in normal situations and make recovery in an emergency possible.
The Cessna Citation X can seat up to 12 passengers, with a crew of 2 required to fly. Empty weight is set at 22131 lbs, while the maximum take-off weight is 35700 lbs for early aircraft and 36100 lbs for later units equipped with the more powerful AE3007C1 engines.
The flight deck is outfitted with a glass cockpit comprised by five 7×8 in CRT screens as part of the Honeywell Primus 2000 suite. Data input is done via the twin flight management system (FMS) units located on the throttle console. All Citation X units were outfitted with GPS navigation from the factory.
The passenger cabin is typically arranged with eight seats in club configuration, or six seats plus a three-place divan at the rear. Despite being fast, unlike the classic Learjet designs the Citation X does not make sacrifices in headroom.
Passengers can comfortably stand up and walk about the cabin in flight without meaningful obstructions.
Long flights are made more amiable thanks to a rather spacious lavatory, a full galley and an 82 cubic foot baggage compartment that is both pressurized and heated. Plenty of room for suitcases, golf clubs, skis, or snowboards, for example.
Citation X / Prices
At the time of its introduction, the Cessna Citation X was sold for $21 million, with this price being eventually bumped to $23 million when the Citation X+ came about.
Citation X / Performance and Handling
While there are lots of great features and comforts aboard, the performance of the Citation X is by far its most impressive feature. Cessna set out to build the world’s fastest private jet during the design of the Model 750, and it delivered just that.
The innovation brought by the Citation X was such that it was awarded the NAA’s Collier Trophy, an award presented to the greatest achievement in aeronautics in America for a given year. The aircraft’s maximum speed is an impressive Mach .92, or 613 knots!
In the past, many manufacturers have postulated speed as an opposite of reliability and fuel efficiency. History has plenty of aircraft built around this perceived unescapable compromise. The Spanish CASA C-101 jet trainer traded high speed performance for ferry range.
The Learjet 23 and its derivatives chose speed while sacrificing low speed handling. Cessna’s very own Cessna Citation I and its successors were slaved to a decision to bring about docile handling at the expense of mediocre top speeds.
The Citation X throws this concept out of the window. As of October 2021, only a single Citation X has been lost, out of 314 delivered. This single occurrence was a result of controlled flight into terrain, with no technical fault found in the aircraft.
On top of its stellar safety record, the Citation X also enjoys some of the best fuel efficiency in the entire class of business jet. The use of high-bypass Rolls-Royce turbofan engines, usually reserved to airliners or larger jets, allows it to meet is excellent performance without imposing a cost penalty for owners and users.
The standard cruise parameters for the Citation X are 525 KTAS at FL410. To better visualize this, it completes the run from New York City to Los Angeles in just four hours.
Beyond the excellent speed, this business jet also has great range – no less than 3070 nmi including IFR reserves. When combining both attributes, you have an aircraft that can fly both cross-country and transoceanic routes, and one that does it fast.
Thanks to the powered controls, the force required by the pilot remains stable throughout the speed envelope. This trait is loved by pilots as it allows for predictable inputs in any phase of the flight.
Citation X / Maintenance Schedule
The average cost for annual maintenance on a Citation X includes around $145000 for engine overhauls and inspections plus $130000 for other maintenance items. This estimated has been calculated for a 200-hour year. It is possible to lower the costs for engine works by adhering to a maintenance program.
Citation X / Modifications and Upgrades
There are two major entries in the Citation X family, plus modifications introduced along the production line that Cessna did not consider significant enough to list as a new variant.
Citation X (1993-2002)
The ‘classic’ Citation X is outfitted with two Rolls-Royce AE3007C engines outputting 6442 lbf each, for a maximum takeoff weight of 35700 lbs.
Citation X (2002-2012)
A slightly uprated variant. Starting in 2002, all Citation X units delivered were fitted with the more powerful AE3007C1 engines, with a thrust rating of 6764 lbf. This increase expanded the type’s maximum takeoff weight to 36100 lbs.
To identify whether a Citation X has the new engines or not, simply look at its serial number – units from 001 to 172 were delivered in the old standard, while units from 173 onwards received the upgrade at the factory.
Elliptical Winglets by Winglet Technology
In 2008, aerospace engineering company Winglet Technology began implementation tests for an aftermarket kit consisting of epoxy and graphite elliptical winglets to be outfitted on the Citation X, with Cessna aiding in the testing and certification program. This modification yielded excellent results and has received an FAA Supplemental Type Certificate (STC).
The performance improvements brought along by the winglets are many. The aircraft’s range increased by 150 nmi with a reduction in fuel burn up to 5%.
Climb performance greatly benefited from the winglets, with time-to-altitude from sea level to FL430 diminishing from 26 minutes to 22 and allowing a climb to FL450 at MTOW without the necessity of a step climb.
Finally, performance at hot-and-high fields became noticeably better as well, meaning owners who regularly operate in such conditions no longer have such a steep payload penalty.
Citation X+ (2014-2017)
The Citation X was a hit in the market but starting in 2010 Cessna decided to take the project further. The result of this improvement project was the so-called Cessna Citation X+. This variant brought along significant changes to the design.
The flight deck is unrecognizable when put next to the classic Citation X. The five Honeywell displays were replaced by three 14-inch touchscreen ones packing the new Garmin G5000 avionics suite.
This did away with the need for an FMS and made the cockpit feel less cramped. Aiding in crew comfort and situational awareness is the introduction of a heads-up display for the left seat. To make long trips more pleasant to passengers, the cabin dimensions were expanded to 19 ft 3 in tall and 73 ft 7 in long.
Performance on the Citation X+ is a marked improvement from the original Cessna Citation X. The AE3007C/C1 that powered the earlier models was replaced by the new AE3007C2 with an all-new fan blade design.
This version of the AE3007 produces 7034 lbf of thrust per engine. Due to the results brought by the Winglet Technology elliptical winglets, Cessna decided to implement them as a standard factory fit in the Citation X+.
The culmination of these changes are a 1.4% improvement in specific fuel consumption, another 214 lbs of useful payload, new standard cruise settings of 479 KTAS at FL490, and another 190 nmi of range for a total of 3242 nmi.
Maximum takeoff weight crew to 36600 lbs, while the maximum cruise speed at FL350 is 527 KTAS. The most impressive performance feat of the Citation X+ is its top speed: the aircraft can reach a blistering Mach 0.935, which places it as the fastest business jet in the world as of 2021.
Citation X / Where to Find Replacement Parts
One of the major advantages of the Citation X, particularly when compared to contemporary Learjet models, is how easy it is to find spare parts.
Cessna and Embraer are currently locked in a race to see who can provide better maintenance, customer service, and parts availability to their clients, with no favorite in sight. The clear winners of this are owners, who are treated to high-end service whenever their beloved jets require work.
Citation X / Common Problems
The biggest issue with the Citation X by a long shot is its ownership cost. Some owners have found the aircraft to be on the prohibitive side for standalone ownership, but this is easily offset by working with companies specializing in managing business jets.
Citation X / Insurance Options
Assuming a crew with a commercial license, IFR and MEL ratings plus 3000 hours, of which 1000 are in multi-engine aircraft and 50 in the aircraft, most insurance carriers quote a policy with both liability and hull coverage from $9800 to $13600 annually.
Citation X / Resale Value
The mix of high performance, reliability and low fuel consumption have made the Citation X a very popular jet in the market. A unit can rally anywhere between $8 million and $12 million depending on the condition, year and modifications installed.
The more expensive end of the Citation X market is normally reserved for aircraft fitted with the improved AE3007C1 engine, and with the elliptical winglet aftermarket kit installed.
Ownership costs for a Citation X usually surpass $300000 per year. To help offset this, many owners partner up with charter operators so that their jet can cover its costs when not in use.
Citation X / Owner Reviews
The Citation X earns high praise from owners across the board. It is comfortable, extremely fast but also very reliable. Despite being a hot rod compared to other midsized business jets, it usually records better dispatch rates than competing models. In turn, pilots are fond of its great avionics, pleasant handling, and wicked speed as well.
Citation X / Similar Aircraft
The Citation X is in a rather unique market position – Cessna carved out a market of their own when they built such an advanced and fast business jet. While not gunning for similar performance, the closest competitor to the Citation X today is the Embraer Legacy/Praetor series.
These aircraft fall considerably short in terms of top speed but get close to matching the Citation X’s range at a reduced cost. Data from Conklin & de Decker shows that the Cessna Citation X has a variable hourly cost of $3421, while the Embraer Legacy 450 clocks in substantially lower at $2798 per hour.
One advantage the Legacy has over the Citation X is the cabin. Cessna’s offering is slightly shorter and has a recessed aisle, which means passengers can only stand comfortably down the middle when walking up or down the fuselage.
The Legacy on the other hand has 6 ft of cabin space with the seats mounted on the floor proper, which add a much more spacious feeling to the jet. The Legacy is also over a foot wider, which reinforces this impression.
Citation X/Clubs You Can Join
Business aviation is an awkward niche as far as owner clubs go, but the Citation X being a Cessna product makes this somewhat easier. Beyond the ubiquitous Cessna owner clubs, there are also options geared specifically for the Citation owners and operators.
Question: How Much Does a Cessna Citation X Cost?
Answer: The average sale price of a Cessna Citation X today is $12 million.
Question: Why did Cessna Discontinue the Citation X?
Answer: While the Cessna Citation X was very popular, it was decided to discontinue it in favor of the new Citation Longitude. This decision was taken to avoid producing two competing aircraft in the same company.
Question: How Many Cessna Citation X are There?
Answer: 310 Cessna Citation X were produced from 1996 to 2012, plus another 29 Citation X+ units from 2014 to 2017.
Question: Is the Cessna Citation X Single Pilot?
Answer: No, a crew of two is required to fly the Cessna Citation X.
Question: What is the Range of a Citation X?
Answer: The Cessna Citation X has a range of 3140 nautical miles.