The Cessna Citation CJ2 is an effective short-haul light jet that balances cost-effectiveness and comfort. This is a comprehensive guide to the CJ2.
A pre-owned Cessna Citation CJ2 costs between $2.8 million and $3.4 million. It is powered by two Williams International FJ44-2C engines which produce 2,400 lb f each while consuming 140 gallons per hour. At FL450 it cruises at 413 kias.
As a corporate pilot and certified instructor, business aviation has been a large part of my career. When the CJ2 first came out, I was among the pilots my employer at the time sent to evaluate the jet for our fleet. Though we didn’t buy it then, I ended up working with it quite closely at a later point in my career.
Cessna’s Citation CJ2 is a light jet with one and a half cabin zones designed to address the travel needs of groups of four to six over fifteen hundred miles. That’s its sweet spot. It can serve rural airfields and local airports with its short take-off and landing requirements better than larger jets while still having the ability to make use of larger hubs when needed.
The CJ2 which is certified as the Model 525A is an extended and improved version of the CJ1. Only 299 CJ2s were made between serial numbers 001 and 299. Cessna ceased production in 2006. After that, it was upgraded to the CJ2+.
The FAA certified the CJ2 in April of 2000 as per 14 CFR 23 in the commuter category. The first delivery happened in November of the same year. The CJ2 is certified for single pilot operation provided the Pilot in Command has an added type rating.
While certified under 14 CFR Part 23 which allows it to be used under single pilot conditions, the engineers designed the aircraft to conform to the safety standards of the Transport Category set out in 14 CFR Part 25. For instance, the windshields are designed to take up to an eight-pound bird strike, something that is not necessary for Part 23 certification.
They also beefed up the wings to use three spars in the wing structure. They even have redundant door seals that back each other up in case of failure during high-altitude operations.
The design captured the imagination of the flying public so well when it was first announced that it secured 70 orders from the VIP pre-launch sneak peek, even before the full specs and designs were even released to the general public.
And even though the CJ2 is not a dozen years old, which in aviation terms is ancient, the fact that Cessna engineers carved a niche out for the CJ2 in terms of distance and payload, the aircraft, of which there are less than three hundred left on the market, remain in considerable demand.
The CJ2 uses the same Cessna Model 525 structure, using the all-metal cylindrical fuselage attached in a box configuration to a cantilevered low wing. It is five feet longer than its sibling the CJ1 that preceded it. Its T-tail configuration gives it the control it needs at slow speeds and in ground effect as it keeps the rudder and elevator beyond the aerodynamic shielding of the wings.
The wings of the CJ2 were an upgrade, which helped in two ways. First, engineers gave the CJ2 longer wings, increasing the CJ1's wings by 2 feet and 7 inches. This gave the CJ2 a better lift per unit of thrust. What that also did was increase the size of the fuel tanks from CJ1's 3220 lbs, to CJ2's 3933 lbs.
They also gave the CJ2 a twenty-degree sweep which allowed it to fly faster as it reduced the drag coefficient of the aircraft. All this resulted in better fuel economy compared to the CJ1. It also allowed for increased payload, giving the CJ2 a zero fuel weight advantage of 9300 lbs over CJ1's 8400 lbs.
With better aerodynamics than the CJ1, Cessna then turned to Williams for a better engine. Williams responded with the FJ44-2C.
The CJ2 has two design considerations in its choice of Avionics. While it is flown today mostly by professional flight crew, it was originally designed for business professionals flying themselves, their colleagues, family, and friends. The Avionics needed to be simple, straightforward, and robust - since there is the need for single pilot operation.
The avionics suite comes with two 8x10-inch PFD, on the left and right, and with an 8x10-inch MFD in the center. All of this is designed to give you enhanced situational awareness and remain on top of all the systems that need to be monitored.
With a host of data, from navigation charts, SID and STARs, normal and emergency checklists as well as performance parameters, everything is easily accessed and managed right from the input interface. You can even key in weight and balance information directly into the computer which will result in the automatic calculation of V1, Vr, V2, and Vref.
You can also overlay state boundaries, geographical features, and airways.
The CJ2 uses the FJ44-2C, a medium bypass turbofan with a single-stage axial compressor that is driven by a two-stage turbine designed specifically for light jets. It is part of the successful FJ44 series of engines that has delivered more than 500 units and has logged over 19 million hours.
The FJ44 engines were designed and built by Williams International in collaboration with Rolls-Royce who assisted in developing the high-pressure turbine for the engine.
It first flew in 1988 and went into production in 1992. When it was first released as the FJ44-1A, it produced 1900 lb f of thrust. The 2C which hangs on the CJ2 produces 2400 lbf of thrust and comes with an integrated hydromechanical fuel control unit.
Williams has delivered more than 500 units of the FJ44-2C which now has a total fleet time exceeding two million hours.
The CJ2 uses the Williams International Rolls Royce FJ44-2C engines that do not come with thrust reversers or thrust buckets. The aircraft also does not come with an APU but uses a battery for the startup. With smaller, more efficient engines, like the FJ44, you don’t really need an APU. They start up with a battery easily. The benefits of having an APU do not outweigh the weight and cost penalty of having one.
The extra thrust compared to its forebears can be felt when you put it in a climb. Whether it's your stage to climb after take off, or on a crisp day out of Telluride, the flat-rated FJ44-2C has power to spare, catapulting you up at 3,800 feet per minute. Cessna claims, and I've only seen it done in the sim, that there is a single-engine climb rate of 1600 feet per minute.
The CJ2 also comes with fuel heaters. So say goodbye to having to mess with fuel additives. This is not just a winter thing. Remember, when you get into a jet, and the CJ2 is one of the few small jets that happen to be where most jet newbies land up on their way to more prestigious machines, you will be flying in rarified air. That means the temperature is almost always below freezing
The CJ2 is certified to fly into known icing conditions. For the wings, the CJ2 uses inflatable boots that can be inflated as necessary or left on a cycle of inflate then deflate automatically. Unlike heated leading edges that can be left on constantly even before encountering ice accumulation, boots are counterproductive if they remain inflated. As such, the CJ2 cycles them automatically, having one less thing for the pilot to think about.
The engine nacelles also have anti-icing in the form of heated nacelles. You can recognize this by the chrome plating that surrounds the perimeter of the inlet.
Remember not to run deicing for a prolonged amount of time on the ground and to keep N2 above 75% for effective de-icing.
The Williams engines have always been a reliable partner on Citation aircraft. The CJ2 is not an exception. With its increased thrust from the engine that powered the CJ1, the newer FJ44-2C consumes 580 lbs from take off with MTOW to FL450 while taking less than 30 minutes to get there.
The CJ2 can do it in 20 minutes if it's just launching with 11,000 pounds.
Weighing just under 12,000 pounds by the time it gets to FL450, and set for a high-speed cruise, the CJ2 will easily achieve 375 KTAS while burning, 762 pounds per hour. This means that your first-hour burn averages 961 pounds or 141 gallons.
The second hour is considerably different. Flying at 45,000 feet at a max cruise of 375 KTAS will burn 630 pounds, or 92 gallons per hour, and fly at 364 KTAS.
With the Zero Fuel Weight of the CJ2 being 9,700 pounds and the Basic operating weight with one pilot being 7,800 pounds, and MTOW being 12,500, you have the ability to ferry 1900 pounds of payload. This gives you the ability to carry 1800 pounds of fuel.
The alternative is to carry full fuel, which is 3,930 pounds.
We know the first hour to climb to FL450 is 580 lbs. The descent will take up about 200 lbs of fuel. With a 45-minute reserve at cruise and half-hour travel to an alternate, you need to put aside 1200 pounds of fuel as reserve leaving you with 2730 pounds of fuel. Just looking at the table above tells you that you can travel for just over 4 hours. Assuming zero winds aloft, you’ll cover almost 1500 nautical miles.
At this range, you will be limited to carrying 620 pounds, or the equivalent of about 3 passengers with bags. A good rule of thumb would be to trade 3 passengers for every hour of endurance.
The CJ2 has a Max Ramp Weight of 12,500 lbs, 125 pounds greater than its MTOW of 12,375 lbs. It's good enough to show you that this aircraft is designed to navigate larger airports, as well as smaller ones. Just be careful how you use this extra leeway as if you overdo it, you might end up sitting in the box burning jet fuel while you get your weight down.
The CJ2 has a zero fuel weight of 9,300 pounds and a basic empty weight of 7,410 pounds. Assuming one pilot, his bags, and catering adds 400 pounds, you have a Basic Operating Weight of 7,810 lbs. This gives you 1,490 pounds of payload.
Since the CJ2 seats six in the cabin, with each person weighing 200 pounds and carrying 40 pounds of luggage, that will work out to 1,440 pounds.
I find it best to commit the things that I can’t do in an aircraft before memorizing the things that I can do. The list above is one of them. It gives you an idea of the aerodynamics of the aircraft.
As for take off and landing speeds, the CJ2 has speeds similar to the fastest aircraft in the heavy turboprops class, making this a great next-step after flying something like a Beechcraft King Air.
There are 235 CJ2s currently in operation. The average number on sale at any given point in the preceding twelve months was six aircraft with an average price between $3.2 and $3.6 million.
When it comes to finance, it is imperative to look downrange when it comes to owning a used aircraft. The CJ2 is a highly sought-after aircraft, robust in its design, and therefore its longevity is not in question. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Aside from the smaller typical issues that you would need to look into, described later, these are the major costs that you would have to contend with once you own the aircraft. All of these are time driven and so can be foreseen and budgeted for.
The largest item as far as maintenance goes is the overhaul. The TBO, or time between overhauls, for the FJ44-2C is five thousand hours. And that's a good thing since each overhaul will set you back about $300,000, and that's assuming you have not chosen to rent an engine to keep flying the plane.
The next heavy hitter on the maintenance list is the hot section inspection. This usually costs us about $150,000 and that happens roughly around the halfway point between overhauls.
Then there is a Doc 10 inspection. These are specific to Cessna's 525 models. And this can get expensive. It will cost you no less than $25,000 depending on which part of the world you're located in. And it depends on what they find. There are lots of man hours to do this as it needs an almost complete tear down of the aircraft.
From dismantling the gear to inspecting every inch of the wiring harnesses under the floor. Every flight control cable and pulley will also be checked and they would have to inspect the fuel tank. A hundred thousand is not unheard of for Doc Ten inspections.
The point to note is that not all of these happen every month or every year. On average the maintenance cost per year works out as follows:
In addition to that there are the usual maintenance issues that need to be accounted for as follows:
The CJ2, just as with its forebears have proven itself to be a sound financial investment, provided they are chosen based on the mission. The one thing that we appreciate about the CJ2 is its predictable maintenance schedule. In finance and operations, the more predictable, the better. With a stringent maintenance regimen, costs are kept well under control, and downtimes are kept to a minimum.
With depreciation averaging $100,000 annually, and a flight crew average of $180,000 a year, it is fairly straightforward to forecast the cost of operating this aircraft.
The fixed cost includes all operational and financial items that occur without regard to use.
As for depreciation, check with your tax attorney or certified accountant on ways to treat depreciation of an aircraft depending on where you register the aircraft.
The capital cost above is taken from a ten year 5.5% fixed-rate loan. This ends up being $488,495 per year for fixed costs. Just note that this means this is what you would have to pay even if you hangar your aircraft all year.
Direct Operating Cost
*Assuming average price per gallon is $7.60
Flying the CJ2 400 hours a year will cost $755,600 in direct operating costs. Add to that, the annual fixed costs, which are $488,495. And it totals $1,244,095. This in turn works out to be $3,110 per hour.
It would be wise to note that the reason for the low hourly cost is not the operational costs that a jet incurs. But rather because the hourly cost here has baked in finance costs which are considerably lower since the cost of acquisition is low.
There are two economic factors you need to consider when choosing an aircraft. This is assuming you have already made a rational decision that one is needed in the first place.
The first is the cost-benefit ratio. There are a number of considerations for this and it differs based on circumstance. If you are an owner-operated air charter then you want to make sure that what the market charges is higher than what your cost is going to be, with a fudge factor built in.
The CJ2 works out to be a sound economic asset if you have chosen the right market. Which is the second economic factor you have to consider.
If there is a demand to transport between 1-6 passengers over the sweet spot of 1000 -1500 nautical miles, then you have a good chance of making this work. The CJ2 makes good economic sense to fly as a feeder from a major hub or from a metropolitan city where executives need to travel to see customers or inspect their plants that are 1500 miles away.
About THE AUTHOR
After spending years watching every video I could find about flying, I finally scratched the itch and got my pilots license. Now I fly every chance I get, and share the information I learn, here.Read More About Joe Haygood