The Citation: Eclipsing the Competition

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September 2012

 

In the early 1970s, Cessna—along with every other General Aviation manufacturer—was selling airplanes. Vertical marketing was the strategy in vogue, and airframe manufacturers had a step-up program designed to introduce a new pilot to aviation in their brand of aircraft and keep them there.

The business jet market was dominated by Rockwell, which built the Sabreliner; Hawker, which built the DH-125-400; and Lear, whose small but incredibly efficient airplanes had earned them the nickname, “the executive mailing tube.”

Up to this point in aviation history, a small, lightweight, fuel efficient, high bypass turbofan engine applicable to small airframes had not been developed. The Pratt & Whitney JT15 changed all that.

Essentially, the JT15 is a high bypass (by 1970s’ standards) fan version of Pratt’s incredibly successful PT6A turboprop engine. This true high bypass turbofan made 2,500 pounds of thrust and burned a miserly (compared to General Electric’s CJ610 that powered the Lear 23/24/25 series) 500 pounds of fuel or so per hour.

Great advances in aircraft design have always followed great advances in powerplant design, and so it was for the Citation.

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