The Cessna Citation Mustang is an agile, entry-level single-pilot favorite among pilots. This is a comprehensive guide to the Mustang if you are in the market.
A pre-owned Cessna Citation Mustang averages between $1 million and $1.5 million depending on its age and condition. It is powered by two FADEC-fitted Pratt & Whitney 615F engines that produce 1,690 lbs of thrust each, burning 95 gallons per hour. At FL410 it cruises at 340 KTAS.
I’ve been involved in the business aviation industry since my early adulthood, having worked as everything from a pilot to instructor to the head of flight operations. I’ve had the good fortune of being surrounded by the Citation family for most of my career. The one I’ve been around the most is the Mustang.
The Cessna Citation Mustang was designed to be the next upgrade for the turboprop or twin piston-engine pilot. For business or family travel, this no-frills light jet is designed to get in and out of far-flung airports which tend to have shorter runways.
With take-off and landing distances as low as 2100 feet and 3100 feet respectively, the Mustang can easily include more airports as part of its destination offering than large business jets, thus reducing ground travel times to a passenger's final destination.
Cessna announced the Mustang in 2002 and was certified as the Model 510 under 14 CFR 23’s commuter category in September 2006 before being delivered in December that year. Jets certified under Part 23 are allowed to be flown with just one pilot provided they are typed to do so.
Whilst officially known as the Cessna Model 510, Cessna chose to market the 510 as the “[Cessna Citation] Mustang” in honor of the famed WWII-era fighter, the P-51 Mustang.
Whether it's during preflight, start-up, or ascent, the Mustang flies pretty much like a complex, high-performance single-engine piston aircraft. By that, I mean it's easy to handle and easy to operate. The aircraft doesn’t get ahead of you like a mid-size jet can. It does, however, when lightly loaded, climb at 4,000 feet per minute on a brisk day when you get the deck angle up to Vy.
Cessna ceased production of the Mustang once it was clear that customers preferred the M2 that came towards the last few years of the Mustang’s production run.
With only 24 units sold every year since the new model was introduced, Cessna stopped production in 2017 after a little less than 490 units had been sold, making it one of the most produced jets in the VLJ category. Cessna continue to produce parts and MRO services for the Mustang fleet worldwide.
The Mustang is Cessna’s contender in the Very Light Jet market with comfortable seating for four passengers in a club seating format. You can also seat a passenger in the cockpit's right seat if you are flying this as a single pilot.
There really isn’t any need to fly the Mustang with a copilot. All the systems are designed to allow a single pilot to handle the full extent of the aircraft, including emergencies. Even engine start-up procedures are simple, most times even simpler than most turboprops.
Just place the throttle lever on the idle detent and turn the knob to start and the FADEC takes care of everything else.
Aerodynamically, it looks, to the untrained eye, like a straight wing, but in fact, has a slight sweep. Just 11 degrees that could easily pass off as a taper. The imperceptible sweepback does not take away from its straight wing handling characteristics, which is gentle at low speeds.
Having the wing as close to the ground as the Mustang does is something to remember when you first get into the cockpit. Stick to your Vref, or it’s going to be hard to get the plane down on the runway. But if you keep approach speeds right, then nailing the landing is almost second nature.
Passengers are treated to a comfortable ride. The four seats, in club arrangement, are as aesthetically handsome as they are comfortably plush. Six windows provide a ton of light, giving the small cabin the feel of airiness. You can easily control how much light gets in by pulling the shade. It won’t get the cabin totally dark, but it will cut the glare.
There is a lav in the back with a full-size bowl and a wash basin. The forward galley separates the passenger cabin from the flight deck.
The Cessna Citation Mustang uses a pair of Pratt and Whitney Canada 615F engines.
When on the Mustang, the 615Fs are flat-rated for 1,460 pounds of take-off thrust to ISA +8 degrees. The 615F is programmed, via software in its Electronic Engine Controller (EEC), to generate less power on the ground, but over a wider set of conditions as it climbs.
This means that you are not going to get the full thermodynamic power that the engine can muster when you jam your throttle forward, but you will get a constant thrust level even as the air gets thinner while you ascend.
Thrust levels, in general, are limited by the structural strength and aerodynamics of the aircraft, not just by the jet engine’s ability to generate thrust. There is, certainly, an upper thermodynamic limit but that level is rarely reached in normal operations of the engine, or even in emergent situations.
That thermodynamic limit, or how much an engine can produce, given its compression ratio, the fuel it uses, the atmospheric conditions, and the overall design of its components are almost never generated for safety reasons. And for cost considerations.
Just look at the 615F. It hangs on this Mustang, and the Embraer Phenom 100, as well as a couple of other models of light jets. Even though they are the same engine, the ones on the Phenom 100 are rated for 1,695 lb f, 235 pounds higher than the ones that hang on the Mustang.
While that does not make the Mustang less or better than the Phenom, it does give you an idea of what the aircraft is capable of and what it is designed to do. It also does not mean that the aircraft is weaker. It’s just designed for a certain mission.
Those mission parameters are determined even before the model is conceptualized.
The engines are limited to those mission parameters and what they can do by the software that resides in the EEC and FADEC. You just have to set the throttle to its detents in the quadrant and the FADEC decides what to do, optimizing the outcome as per the software program.
An aircraft’s fuel burn is typically a consideration of multiple factors. For most models, altitude and speed influence the rate at which fuel is burned. The typical altitude-to-fuel-burn relationship is simple - the higher you go the less fuel you use. But that’s not the extent of what you should consider.
For the Mustang, while altitude and speed do contribute to the resulting fuel burn, the factor to remember is that burn rates are a function of the weight of the aircraft. Mustangs have a sweet spot when it comes to altitude selection based on their mission.
If your mission is to get somewhere fast then you will plan differently and choose a different altitude than if you want to get somewhere economically. Depending on temperatures, wind, and density aloft, the best altitude for speed per pound of fuel burned is a step function.
Ideally, try to plan your trip at 35,000 feet for the first hour, then 37,000 feet for two hours after that, and then 41,000 feet for the last two hours. This profile allows for the farthest range for any given amount of fuel, allowing you to fully access the Mustang’s 1160 nm range.
Theoretically, following the FAA-approved manual this altitude profile nets you 1603 nautical miles in the cruise segment (not counting the horizontal distance covered during the climb.) This profile also only uses 2462 pounds of fuel and assumes you took off with full fuel at MTOW.
If you plan to get there in the fastest amount of time then you will change the fuel flow to give you the best speed. Your greatest speed happens at FL250. Set your fuel flow to 840 lbs/hr. This will give you 340 KTAS. But since you are burning 840 pounds an hour and only carrying 2580 lbs of fuel you will only be able to go for just over two hours.
As you can see, the gain in time saved is not worth the almost-double quantity of fuel used. For the Mustang, the altitude, assuming MTOW, for the lowest fuel burn per hour is at FL350.
Even though conventional wisdom for speed (and by extension things like fuel burn) is that higher is better (due to the air being thinner), in this case going up to FL410, the Mustang lands up burning a little more fuel and goes a little slower.
The Mustang’s dimensions give it its unique characteristics, making it more sensitive to changes in weight compared to other aircraft in its category. The sensitivity does not suggest instability. The Mustang is a highly stable and high-performing light jet. The sensitivity refers to the degree to which weight plays a factor in how the aircraft performs at different altitudes and missions.
Fuel flow and burn can be optimized to greater benefit as the flight progresses. The more you burn and the lighter you get, the less you will consume. Knowing this also reveals a trick that most Mustang pilots soon come to realize: fill up only what you need and a healthy reserve and don’t top it up if you don’t have to.
While it is not strange to consider weight during the planning process in aviation, just be more alert to the weight of your Mustang, as its characteristic and handling alter perceptible depending on weight and Center of Gravity (CG) location.
The detents on the throttle quadrant activate the FADEC to give you optimal thrust for that phase of flight, but you can move the throttles to any point you wish like a typical multi engine piston engine to control the fuel flow.
When it comes to Vref, aim to have the aircraft in landing configuration before short final, and the aircraft at your approach speed soon after the FAF on an approach. The Mustang is not the kind of aircraft that you can flare to burn off the excess energy.
This is a very light jet with huge power, slick wings, and no prop to the windmill for drag. At the same time, you can not get too slow as there is always a chance of a Go Around. As soon as your main gear greases the asphalt, deploy the speed brakes instead of an increased flare like you would a piston engine. This should give you great landings every time.
The Mustang has a Max Ramp Weight of 8,730 pounds with an MTOW of 8,645 lbs giving you 85 pounds of fuel for ground operation. You won’t always need that if you are flying out of a small airport unless you are trying to squeeze every possible mile out of the tank.
The Mustang’s Zero Fuel Weight (ZFW) of 6,750 pounds gives you 1,855 pounds of fuel under max payload conditions. It takes 359 pounds in the climb to FL410 leaving 1,496 pounds. On average, configured for max speed payload and longest range, the Mustang will burn 542 lbs in the first hour.
Thereafter, you would need 508 lbs in the second hour, resulting in a total of 1050 pounds of fuel for cruise flight. Including the 359 pounds for a climb, the amount for the descent, and reserves. You would have enough fuel to make a two-hour flight with a full payload.
Leaving IFR reserves intact means you would need 400 pounds in the tank when you land (assuming you’re flying on a VFR day with no inclement weather forecast).
The flight with a full payload of 1,150 pounds, traveling 700 nautical miles would only take two hours. The average fuel burn for a two-hour flight is (including, climb, cruise and descent) 88 gallons per hour.
The Mustang, while a very effective owner-operated very light jet (VLJ) was discontinued by Cessna after the introduction of its successor. It can now only be purchased on the used market with prices ranging between $2.6 million and $3.4 million.
There were 479 Mustangs produced and an average of ten mustangs come up for sale annually and stay on the market for 120 days before closing, making it one of the most sought-after jets in the VLJ category, and thus, easiest to sell.
By comparison, it takes nearly 180 days for a Citation M2 (the aircraft which replaced the Mustang in production) to sell.
Purchasing this aircraft for cash keeps the capital costs down while taking advantage of the stability in the value. There is very little loss on disposal for a Mustang sold three years after purchase, depending on the dynamics of the market.
As it stands, the price characteristically depreciates in value by an average of $70,000 a year. If you own a Mustang for three years before selling it, you will lose $210,000 after 3 years and 1,200 hours of use. That works out, on average, to be $175 per hour in depreciation costs.
The Mustang is suited best for personal over commercial use, meaning it’s best for those short-haul flights that are a little too far for other forms of transportation. Though when it was first introduced it was a favorite of air taxi operators, the Mustang is ill-suited to this role and is seldom used in it today.
Direct Operating Cost
The largest line item cost in Fixed expenses is the crew salary and cost that amount to $120,000 or 18% of the total cost to operate the aircraft. If you are purchasing this for yourself without the need for a crew, the $665,520 total cost number is reduced to $545,520 for 400 hours a year.
The hourly cost to operate the aircraft in a year then is $1,364 if you fly it on your own, or $1,664 per hour if you engage a dedicated crew.
The Mustang is one of the few VLJs in the market that are below the $2,000-dollar per hour bracket to operate. But that's not where the real benefit lies. Aside from the ease of operation and the cost of maintenance, the cost per pound per mile is one of the lowest you can pick up.
A two-hour flight will take you 700 nautical miles with 1,150 pounds of payload as mentioned earlier. At $1,664 per hour, that works out to be $3,328 to do that. Which works out to be $2.89 per pound transported over 700 miles, or $0.004 per pound per mile.
To put that in perspective, an average American man weighs approximately 180 pounds, so it costs roughly 75 cents to take them the entire 700 miles!
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