Cessna Citation - 50 Years in Service

Cessna Citation is one of the most popular business jets. Cessna Citations are renowned for their reliability, efficiency, advanced technology, class-leading performance, and of course their comfortable cabins. The Citation has been in service for 50 years and is used by many operators around the world. Citations are estimated to have clocked up more than 35 million flight hours, certainly a great testament for business jet operators.

Cessna Citation in the Making

Cessna, now a subsidiary of Textron Aviation, was founded in 1911. It was initially called the Cessna-Roos Aircraft Company, which was established in 1927. Cessna has produced aircraft since the 1920s, starting with smaller general aviation aircraft and evolving to manufacture business jets. Cessna’s aircraft currently range from private entry-level single-piston to short and long-range business jets.

Photo of a Cessna 525 Citation Jet on a runway
Cessna 525 Citation Jet

Until the late 1960s business jets were uncommon. Seeing the success of rival companies in light business jets, Cessna set out to offer business travellers aircraft that were simpler, quieter, and less costly than other options on the market. Combining the company’s experience in single and twin-engine general aviation aircraft, with its understanding of military jets, Cessna launched its business jet, the Fanjet 500, in October 1968.

On September 15th, 1969, the Cessna business jet, renamed Citation 500, had its first debut flight. It was flown by Milt Sills and J L LeSueur from the company’s Wichita facility. Two years later, in September 1971, it gained certification, and in 1972 the first Cessna Citation I was delivered.

Cessna Citation Business Jet Advancements

The Citation I, which was in production until 1985, had Pratt & Whitney JT15D-1 turbofan engines and could carry 5 passengers. Maintaining the high Cessna standard, there have been many upgrades over the decades, particularly to avionics, power, and more recently onboard technology.

Citation II (also known as the Cessna 550) was certified in March 1978. It had the same engines as the Citation I but with increased wingspan, fuselage, and passenger capacity (now up to 10 pax). Citation Bravo was an advanced model of the same aircraft but with the new Pratt & Whitney PW530A engines. The avionics and interior were also upgraded. Citation II and Bravo were both in production until 2006.

Quick on the tail of Citation II, Citation III (or Cessna 650) was designed to increase the range for transatlantic flights. This new Citation was certified in 1982, even before Citation II had flown. It did have a longer range than the Citation II but did not achieve its long-range goal. Citation III had twin Garett TFE731 turbofan engines, though three engines were initially planned.

Photo of a Cessna Citation Latitude cockpit
Cessna Citation Latitude cockpit

The next Citations were VI and VII. Citation IV was designed but not developed. Jets were in demand at both ends of the market, so Citation VI was a low-cost jet with a simpler interior, while Citation VII was a more customizable, luxury jet with enhanced performance and range, as well as higher thrust engines. They were both available from 1983 to 2000.

Citation V was certified in 1988. It was based on Citation II but with a longer cabin and capacity for up to 11 passengers. It also had more powerful JT15D5A Pratt & Whitney engines. The UC-35A was a military version of the Citation V. The Citation Ultra was a further upgrade with enhanced avionics.

In keeping with Cessna’s progression and the continued market for light, low-cost jets, the CitationJet revolutionized aviation in 1993 with a new carry-through section, new wing, and T-tail. This Citation had Williams FJ44 engines as they were lower cost. There have been a number of iterations of the CitationJet and it is still in production with advanced avionics and superior interiors.

Citation X was introduced in the late 1990s. The fuselage was redesigned to reduce drag and increase speed, and the wings were moved to below the fuselage allowing for a higher cabin. The engines were two Rolls-Royce AE 3007C, which were later upgraded in the Citation X + to 3007C2 engines. The upgrade also included new avionics and a heads-up display.

Knowing their market well, Cessna modified the Citation X to produce the shorter Citation Excel with Pratt & Whitney PWC545C engines. This evolved into the Citation XLS jet in 2008, with further improved Pratt & Whitney engines. They are still in production.

Being always responsive to customer desires, Cessna Citation continues to enhance its jet family with a range of aircraft, advanced technology, and luxury cabins. The Sovereign and Sovereign + began production in the early 2000s. Based on the Citation X fuselage and low-wing design, it also has the Pratt & Whitney PWC545C engines, a decent range, and capacity for up to 11 passengers.

For the very light business jet market, Cessna introduced the Citation Mustang in 2006 with reduced-power Pratt & Whitney turbofans and seating for four to five passengers. This model however has been somewhat surpassed by the CitationJet range.

Cessna Citation Latitude jet sunset runway

Perhaps the most popular Cessna business jet yet is the midsized Citation Latitude introduced in 2014 with Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306D turbofans. It boasts a 6-foot stand-up cabin and excellent comfort and connectivity features. It was followed by the Citation Longitude in 2019, a super midsized jet. The Longitude has a transatlantic range, advanced wing design, and Honeywell HTF7000 turbofan engines.

Where to From Here for Cessna Citation?

The Citation Hemisphere is on the horizon and will have the longest range of the Cessna Citation jets. It will have a wider cabin than the Longitude, though the same capacity. Production is however currently delayed.

In the meantime, Cessna Citation is making headlines with the Citation VII business jet being adapted for the first full-scale test flight of Airbus’ folding eXtra performance wing.


Since 1972 Cessna Citation has maintained its standing in the business jet market for 50 years. Reliability, performance, and comfort are features of all the Citation models. AviBuy marketplace has a great selection of parts for your Cessna Citation, available now.