Flight test: Cessna Citation Mustang Part I

Written by Keith Wilson
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Designed to compete with other VLJs

Story and photos by Keith Wilson

It may be hard to believe but the very first Cessna Citation—then named the Fan Jet 500—made its first flight way back on Sept. 15, 1969, more than 47 years ago. The aircraft had originally been designed with a pair of turboprop engines but these had been discarded when a new Cessna CEO saw the fuselage of the aircraft lying around and suggested that it have two jet engines added.

It was a major financial gamble for Cessna when they launched the Citation project in 1968, with the first delivery being made in 1971. And the rest of the Citation story, as they say, is history.

History and aim of Mustang design

The Cessna Citation Mustang (Model 510), was a Very Light Jet (VLJ) designed to compete with the then new breed of VLJs from Piper, Embraer and Eclipse Aviation.

The Mustang, in standard configuration, has four passenger seats in the aft cabin, a toilet and seating for two in the cockpit. Like most other light jets, the Mustang is approved for single-pilot operation, although in the United States a Type Rating is required.

The Model 510 Mustang first flew on April 18, 2005 and the aircraft was awarded its full Type Certificate from the FAA on Sept. 8, 2006. Cessna then received FAA certification to fly into known icing conditions on Nov. 9, 2006. Cessna delivered the first production Mustang just 14 days later.

The Mustang is a low-wing cantilever monoplane with a swept wing, T-tail and tricycle retractable landing gear. One main door is located in the forward left section of the aircraft, with an additional emergency exit on the center right section of the fuselage.

The airframe is primarily of aluminium alloy construction, with a three-spar wing. Power is provided by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW615F turbofan engines, mounted in pods on the aft fuselage.

Mustang N733CF

N733CF is a 2015 model Cessna 510 Citation Mustang, built with construction number 510-0458 and delivered to owner Carl Ferland toward the end of 2015. The aircraft is managed by Elite Aircraft Services of Raleigh, N.C.; it’s one of almost 40 aircraft currently in their managed aircraft portfolio.

I arrange to meet Matt Walsh, CEO of Elite Aircraft Services, at Sanford-Lee County Airport (KTTA). KTTA, also known as Raleigh Executive Jetport, is a large, uncontrolled GA airport with excellent facilities located around 30 miles southwest from the international airport at Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

Sanford is home to Elite Aircraft Service’s maintenance and operations facilities. I am fortunate to be a regular visitor to Elite’s excellent facilities at Sanford so, with pleasantries quickly out of the way, Walsh and I are soon walking toward the aircraft parked on the ramp.

Walkaround

The Citation Mustang preflight check is similar to many of the small bizjets out there, although it does have a number of important differences from your Cessna 172.

Under Walsh’s experienced eye, I walk around while systematically removing all of the various red covers located around the aircraft. These include the front and rear engine covers on both sides, all three of the static wicks on each wing, the AOA indicator cover, along with both left and right pitot static sensor covers. Once removed, all the “bras and panties” are safely stowed in the big red bag provided and stored inside the rear baggage area.

While at the rear baggage compartment, I connect the battery and ensure the large screw-in connection is tight. The battery is always disconnected after the last flight of the day to prevent any battery drainage, especially if a battery start is required before the next flight.

While here, I lean across the baggage bay and check that all circuit breakers are in. If there is a problem with any of them, “do not attempt to push the circuit breaker back in; instead, have the problem checked by the engineers,” is Walsh’s comment to me. Today, they are all where they should be. I close the cover.

The preflight walkaround proper starts at the left engine, where I open the oil inspection flap and check the oil quantity using the simple-to-read red/green, min/max gauge. I also take the opportunity to ensure the oil filler cap is secure.

Looking to the right of the engine, I check the oil bypass indicator has not been tripped. (If it has, I am once again instructed to call the engineer.) I also look inside the back of the engine and check the fan blades for condition and any signs of debris before carefully securing the inspection panels.

I duck under and around the tail, and then move the rudder lock to the “unlock” position. Cessna has designed an interesting fail-safe if you should forget to do this.

When you are safely secured in the cockpit and then realize—when you first try the pedals—that you have not moved it to “unlock,” merely pull fully back on the yoke and you’ll release the lock; and, of course, spare your blushes.

I move onto the right engine where all of the checks carried out on the left side are duly repeated. In addition to those, I check that the air conditioning unit intake is clear.

Then I move onto the rear of the wings to check the flaps and kneel down to inspect the undercarriage leg, the tire, hoses and brakes. At this point, you realize just how low the Mustang wing is to the ground.

Then I move along the back of the wing; checking the flaps, ailerons and three static wicks. Interestingly, you are permitted to fly with just two of them in place.

Then around the wingtip, past the funky new digital strobe light and lens, and along the leading edge; checking the de-icing boots on the way. I also undo and check the fuel contents cap before refitting and ensuring it is secure. I continue toward the fuselage, checking the stall strips—it is essential that all eight are in place.

Next, I move along the forward fuselage, checking the AOA and starboard pitot tube, before opening the front baggage bay. While here, I check the contents of both the oxygen and nitrogen bottles are at safe levels, before securing the baggage bay with all three latches and the key.

Then on to the nose radome, ensuring all the static strips are secure before opening the baggage bay on the port side. In here, I check the level and pressure of the hydraulic fluid before securing the door. I crouch down to check the nosewheel and gear doors before getting back up and examining the port-side pitot tube and cockpit glass.

Now, I move back toward the port wing and repeat all of the checks from the starboard side, before finishing up at the starboard engine.

You may recall that I had to reconnect the battery in the rear baggage bay before starting the preflight walkaround. The clever people at Cessna have ensured that when you connect the battery, both front baggage bay doors must be closed and locked before the software will allow the engine start procedure. A nice safety feature, especially when you consider the implications of a front baggage bay door coming open in flight and entering the intake.

Cabin

I climb up the neat folding three steps before entering the aircraft fuselage through the main door; the passengers turn right and occupy one of the four luxurious tan, leather seats. Each pair has a foldaway table between them that can be employed once off the ground.

The windows are conveniently located and large enough to provide an excellent view of the world outside. Later in the week, I was invited to take a trip from Sanford, N.C. to Gatlinburg, Tenn. (home to Dollywood, and the famous country singer Dolly Parton) and can personally testify to the low noise and excellent comfort levels in the cabin. The cabin also features a small emergency lavatory, along with neat storage space for refreshments.

Today, I am flying up front and I gain entry onto the flight deck by shuffling between the somewhat-limited space situated between the two front seats. However, once I am installed with my seat correctly adjusted, the position is most comfortable. The view over the panel is good, as is the view out of the left or right-hand windows. All instruments are easily seen from either seat and the controls fall comfortably to hand.

The panel is dominated by the three large 15-inch screens—two PFDs and an MFD—all powered by Garmin G1000 software. Clearly, the instrumentation is exactly what you would expect from an aircraft of this capability and age.

The G1000 installation also includes a keypad located beneath the throttles which makes data entry a much easier process than some competing systems using tiny turn and press knobs. As my time aboard the Mustang increases, I come to realize that using the G1000 system is most intuitive.

Located at the top of the panel in the center is the GFC700 autopilot control panel. Just below this is the small assortment of standby instruments containing smaller, conventional (steam-driven) ASI, HSI and altimeter.

Below these, and dominating the center of the panel, is the large PFD screen which is currently displaying navigational info in the main area of the screen with two columns of engine and performance indicators in a clear, digital presentation to the left. All very nice.

To the left and right of this main screen, with one located in front of each of pilots, is a slightly smaller MFD, complete with synthetic vision. This is effectively a large HSI which also displays the altimeter and ASI, along with the TCAS display in the bottom left-hand corner.

Each yoke features a PTT to the left and an autopilot disconnect to the right, along with a pair of trim controls. Both of these trim controls need actuating to adjust the elevator trim; which can also be manually actuated from the center console on a big wheel. The aileron and rudder trim switches are located just below the keyboard.

In the center console are twin throttle levers with a number of preset detents for cutoff, idle, cruise, climb, takeoff; along with “GA” (for “go around”). Everything in between can be used, but as I found out during my flights, the presets work just fine and help to reduce the pilot workload.

The electric actuators for the speed brakes are on the left-hand side of the left throttle, and the right-hand side of the right throttle allowing them to be actuated from either seat. To the right of the center console is the three-position flap actuator with detents for up, takeoff and landing positions.

Just behind the center console are two cup holders where we place our bottles of cold water for the flight. At this point, Walsh quips, “Yes, the jet is completely free, although the cup holders are $1 million each!”

Circuit breaker panels are located to the left of the left seat, and to the right of the right seat.

Engine start

With the door closed and locked, and having been metaphorically walked around the cockpit by Matt Walsh, it was at last time to fly, with me occupying the right seat. It is at this point that the effectiveness and simplicity of the automation fitted to the Citation Mustang comes to the forefront.

With the master switch on, I first check for CAS (Crew Alert System) messages; thankfully, there are none.

While a ground power unit (GPU) is not essential to start the Mustang, it is highly recommended. We are parked on a hot and humid ramp in North Carolina so, thanks to the connection to the GPU, we are sitting in air-conditioned comfort. In addition, today’s routing can be loaded into the GPS, and clearances obtained, all before engine start so we are not wasting precious fuel on the ramp.

Our flight today is going to be a general handling trip in the local area, so no flight plan or clearance is required; consequently, we can get on with starting. First things first: turn off all nonessential electrical items such as the environmental controls—air conditioning and fans.

The Engine Start panel has three options: left, disengage and right. I press “L” and move the throttle out of the “shutoff” detent and into “idle,” then monitor the N1 and ITT gauges to ensure they remain within limit.

I wait as the FADEC System does the rest. Once the left engine is safely running at idle, I press “R,” move the throttle forward to “idle” and then wait as the FADEC repeats the process. (Yes, starting the engines really is that simple.)

I complete the pre-takeoff checks from the checklist and note the crucial speeds for takeoff: VR is 91 knots, V1 is also 91 knots, while VY is 170 knots. These speeds appear on the MFD in the left seat.

Taxi

The Mustang has nosewheel steering, toe brakes, as well as asymmetric abilities with the engines. Consequently, steering is a matter of choice. The nosewheel steering permits a left turn of 135 degrees but only 128 degrees to the right. (To be honest, I won’t even notice.)

Walsh releases the parking brake next to his right knee before I gently add some power to both engines and then retard them once we are moving. Idle power is normally sufficient for steering using the nosewheel, although I am conscious of the toe brakes, if they are required.

Progress to the holding point is brisk and once here, I go through the pre-takeoff checks displayed on the MFD screen. Once complete, I check the controls for full and free movement, move the flaps to the “Takeoff” position (around 15 degrees) and then taxi onto the runway.

We’ll continue next month with part two of this story, wherein Wilson discusses flying, landing, aircraft performance and his final impressions about the Citation Mustang. —Ed.

Keith Wilson has been an aerospace journalist since 1982. He specializes in striking air-to-air images and is the lead photographer for Pilot magazine, published in the United Kingdom. Over the years he has undertaken a variety of military assignments and also serves as an aviation consultant. To date, he has photographed almost 2,000 different aircraft air-to-air. Wilson has held a PPL for 35 years and is an LAA-approved pilot who has made a number of “first flights” on homebuilt aircraft. Send questions or comments to .

January 2017

Cessna Citation Mustang

Technical Specifications

WEIGHT AND DIMENSIONS:

 
Length:
40 feet, 7 inches
 
 
Wingspan:
43 feet, 2 inches
 
 
Height:
13 feet, 5 inches
 
 
Empty weight:
5,560 pounds
 
 
Loaded weight:
8,730 pounds
 
 
Useful load:
3,170 pounds
 
 
Maximum takeoff weight:
8,645 pounds
 
 
Powerplant:
(2) Pratt & Whitney Canada PW615F turbofans; 1,460 pounds thrust each
 
Avionics:
Garmin G1000
 
 
Crew:
one or two pilots
 
Capacity:
four to five passengers

PERFORMANCE

 
Maximum speed:
Mach 0.63 (483 mph)
 
Cruise Speed:
340 knots TAS (390 mph)
 
Stall speed (at gross weight):
88 knots (101 mph) clean
 
Range (at max takeoff weight):
1,167 nm
 
 
Service ceiling:
41,000 feet
 
 
Rate of climb:
3,010 fpm
 
 
Takeoff distance:
3,110 feet
 
 
Landing distance:
2,380 ft
 
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