The Citation X remains one of the fastest business jets and a favorite among travelers for its cabin comfort. This is a comprehensive guide to the Citation X.

The Cessna Citation X has an active used market with 1999 models costing between $3.5m and $4.5m and 2012 models averaging closer to $7 million. The X is powered by two Rolls Royce AE3007C engines generating a total of 13,528 lb f of static thrust while burning an average of 336 gallons per hour.

Being a corporate pilot, MEI and executive flight ops manager for a large part of my aviation career, I have spent a long time surrounded by bizjets of all different shapes and sizes, including the Citation X, whose reputation as one of the fastest private jets, has made it a legend among pilots and corporate fliers alike.

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Background

Citation X is not a single-pilot aircraft. It is certified in the Transport Category as per 14 CFR Part 25 and requires a Pilot and Copilot as part of the crew at all times.

The Citation X is currently the second-fastest flying business jet in the world, second only to its successor, the Citation X+. It is able to achieve Mach 0.92 at FL510 compared to the X+ that hits Mach 0.935 at the same ceiling.

Announced at the 1990 NBAA convention in October as the Model 750, Cessna promised to deliver a transonic business jet with transcontinental capability. It first flew in December 1993 and received its type certification in 1996.

The first production Citation X was delivered to Arnold Palmer, the golfer. The company went on to make 310 aircraft before ceasing production in 2018.

The Cessna Citation X was then replaced with its variant, the slightly longer and slightly faster Citation X+.

Citation X is a super midsize jet that has a two-zone cabin with a full lav in the rear and a galley that separates the cabin from the flight deck. It is designed for transcontinental flights and unlike its other Citation siblings, is not designed for rural airports with short runways.

It can cross the Atlantic without sacrificing speed reaching Europe in just over five and a half hours. To put this in perspective, the fastest I’ve ever crossed the Atlantic was from LGA to LHR in six hours and ten minutes.

Specifications

Being transonic, the design of the Citation X was unlike any other in the Citation lineup. Engineers approached the design from the aspect of drag since that is the largest problem to solve in any near-supersonic vehicle. All aspects of the design and features of the Citation X had to be rethought since the forces acting on a body in motion are significantly different in transonic flight.

Specifications Cessna Citation X
Length 72.53 ft
Height 19.2 ft
Wingspan 63.6 ft
Cabin Length 23.7 ft
Cabin Width 5.6 ft
Cabin Height 5.7 ft
Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW) 36100 lbs (16375 kg)
Maximum Landing Weight (MLW) 31800 lbs (14424 kg)
Operating Weight (OW) 22025 lbs (9990 kg)
Fuel Capacity 12931 lbs (5865 kg)
Payload With Full Fuel 1444 lbs (655 kg)
Max Payload 2375 lbs (1077 kg)
Rate of Climb 3650 fpm (60.83 m/s)
Rate of Climb (One Engine Inoperable) 1120 fpm (18.67 m/s)
Max Speed Mach 0.92 (972 km/h; 604 mph; 525 kts)
Normal Cruise 520 kts (963 km/h; 598 mph)
Service Ceiling 51000 ft (15,545 m)

The Citation X is designed to carry up to 8 passengers in comfort. The cabin of the Citation X is exceptionally large, designed for comfort with more head and shoulder room.

It can even be configured for a bedroom in the aft zone with club seating for four in the front.

The Citation X has a cabin of 527 cubic meters divided into two zones and can be installed with eight fully-reclining club seats for long-distance comfort, a lavatory in the aft cabin, and a hot galley for warm meals.

Cabin altitudes are an important factor in aircraft with high-altitude capability. The Citation X has a powerful differential of 9.3 psi meaning it can get you to FL510 while keeping the cabin at 8,000 feet. It can keep the cabin at sea level up to 25,230 feet.

Aerodynamics

Cessna used a completely new design for much of the aircraft’s external structure and aerodynamics, not taking any of the designs from previous models like it did in the past. This was primarily due to the aerodynamic considerations of transonic flight.

The main visual difference in design is the highly-swept wings, needed for high-speed flight. Swept at 37 degrees, it is the second most swept back angle designed for a non-military aircraft. The horizontal stabilizers also employ significant sweep angles as does the vertical stabilizer. It has zero dihedral.

The Citation X design team focused a lot on the wing design, using a supercritical airfoil to increase the critical Mach number over the wing and allowing the aircraft to reach its record-breaking speed. This, however, contributed significantly to the inability of the Citation X to take off in distances less than 5,250 feet.

Weight

The Citation X has an impressive MTOW of 36,100 pounds and a maximum ramp weight of 36,400 pounds, giving you 300 pounds of fuel to burn on the ground before getting underway. The extra 300 pounds is a significant plus, especially during rush-hour takeoffs. Having it obviates the need to burn into fuel that could otherwise be used to get to your destination.

The Citation X has a zero fuel weight of 24,400 pounds, which means that with maximum payload there are 11,700 pounds of fuel that can be taken on. The aircraft’s Basic Operating Weight, which includes two crew and catering, is 22,100 pounds, resulting in 2,300 pounds of maximum payload.

Conversely, if you choose to extend your range and take on full fuel, sacrificing a little of the payload, I’ve found this to be easily done. The Citation X can take a maximum of 12,931 pounds of fuel, leaving 1,069 pounds for payload. This would result in five passengers, assuming 180 pounds per passenger with baggage weighing 30 pounds each.

The Citation X has a maximum landing weight of 31,800 pounds with no fuel jettison capability. In the event of a problem after take-off, you would likely have to burn off almost 3,500 pounds of fuel as you attempt to troubleshoot before returning to the runway.

Propulsion

The Citation X was the first of the Citation series to use the fully-titanium-blade Rolls Royce AE3007C1 high-bypass turbofans that were originally developed by Rolls Royce for military application.

A casual observer can tell just from looking at it on the ramp, as these engines look disproportionately large relative to the rest of the fuselage.

These Rolls Royce engines produce a total of 13,628 pounds of static thrust in total at sea level with a bypass ratio of 5:1.The AE3007C1 are flat rated to 85 degrees Fahrenheit which means that they do not produce the maximum thrust on take-off but will be able to provide constant thrust throughout the take-off and climb stages of departure.

Take-off power is allowed for five minutes of continuous application with a permissible spike in ITT for 90 seconds. The design of the engines is tried and tested with over sixty million flight hours across diverse mission parameters.

The engines were chosen primarily for two reasons. For transonic flight, Cessna needed a high bypass engine with high ITT tolerance and wide-chord blades. The AE3007C1 provided that in its 14-stage axial flow compressor and five-stage variable-geometry stators.

The AE3007C1 also comes with thrust buckets that are engaged upon main gear touchdown. This is the main reason for the significantly shorter landing distance that the Citation X is capable of.

The AE3007C1 also comes with a two-channel, fully-redundant full authority digital engine control, FADECs. This means that each engine effectively has two FADECs for redundancy. In the event of failure of one FADEC for a particular engine, the second FADEC which is running simultaneously, automatically, and seamlessly takes over.

Part of the power plant selection criteria during the design phase was the noise level. The AE3007C1 with its high bypass ratio has a significantly lower noise rating than engines with similar thrust ratings but lower bypass ratios. Placing it as far aft, behind the pressure bulkhead, also made a major difference in reducing cabin noise levels.

The Citation X engines have a TBO of 4000 hours, keeping downtimes to a minimum while providing more flight time to amortize the cost of overhauls.

It is typical to look for three-axis automation in most aircraft, but the Citation X adds one more dimension. With the avionics able to tie in pitch, roll, and yaw automation, the addition of autothrottles allows the pilot to truly fly flat-footed and arms-folded. The autothrottle adjusts the power settings automatically based on the airspeed and flight phase the pilot selects.

Stability and Control

The Citation X is a stable aircraft that is highly automated and assisted for ease of operations. Even the flight controls are hydraulically assisted as flights at transonic speeds can impart huge forces on control surfaces.

The Citation X has unconventionally controlled conventional flight control systems of ailerons, elevators, and rudders that are not directly accessed by the flight crew, but rather are actuated by redundant systems.

The Citation X has dual rudders. Both are driven electrically from different sources and one of the two has an additional backup source. It also has a manual backup by conventional cables in case of multiple failures.

The entire horizontal stabilizer is movable by dual electrical systems providing easy activation and redundancy during multiple failures, which is highly unlikely.

The Citation X also has inboard and outboard roll spoilers in addition to the conventional ailerons that are at the outboard station of the wings. These control surfaces are hydraulically actuated using dual hydraulic systems powered by both engines.

The aircraft is stable in all flight conditions, even during minimum controllable airspeed operations during stalls. Stalls below ten thousand feet are docile with plenty of warning from the alarm and stick shaker in the cockpit.

Compared to other augmented flight control systems, the Citation X seemed to be one of the few that did not feel like it had been augmented. It felt natural with sufficient feedback and uniform control. Pulling back on rotation felt natural without any lag or mush.

Avionics

The X is a lot of plane, let’s get that part clear. It is heavily equipped with systems and technology that requires even the most seasoned pilot to sweat it out during their time at Flight Safety. Could you fly this plane alone if you had to? Hypothetically? Well, anything is hypothetically possible, but flying a Citation X alone should not be one of them.

It’s easy to fall into the comfort of thinking that it is, after all, a Cessna. But your first introduction to the systems in one of the simulators at Flight Safety will soon correct your ambivalence.

The avionics package on the Citation X is Honeywell’s tried and tested Primus 2000 Integrated system. The Primus 2000 is a comprehensive suite of digital controls and automation that incorporates flight guidance and flight management together with a visual interface spread across five CRT screens.

With its ability to seamlessly manage all three axes of control in a fail-passive operation, the safety of every flight is rest assured. Even the go-around and flight trajectory are coupled to the electronics, alleviating one of the most stressful phases of flight in the event of a missed approach under CAT II conditions.

The flight director and autopilot, coupled with the yaw damper system, the FMS, and the inertial reference system provide an integrated environment. Pilots and copilots are treated to a host of flight-critical information directly in front of them on their PFDs.

Fuel Burn, Endurance, and Range

The Citation X can make it up to FL510 but it has to do it in steps. FL470 is only available when it is at 34,000 pounds. If taking off at MTOW (36,100 lbs) it has to burn 2100 pounds before reaching FL470. It then needs to burn another 4000 pounds before it can reach FL490 at 30,000 pounds.

It can go all the way up to FL430 in 26 minutes burning 1,332 lbs (199 gallons) of fuel. In that time it will also travel 174 nautical miles laterally.

At FL430, Citation X will burn 2000 pounds of fuel an hour. Once at FL490 it burns 1400 pounds per hour or 210 gallons per hour. The climb is typically done at M 0.80.

Citation X pilots never fill up with fuel they don’t need. Each trip is calculated for precise flight requirements and reserves with a small fudge factor. This way they can get up to altitude faster and burn less fuel.

High-speed cruise, at M 0.92 at FL470 burns 1,433 pounds per hour while M 0.86 at FL470 burns 1,600 pounds per hour. It is better to go higher and faster in a Citation X as the fuel and time savings can be significant.

The Citation X has a range of 3,140 nautical miles, depending on temperature, winds, and payload. As far as endurance, it can remain airborne for 6 hours.

Speed

The Citation X is designed to operate out of airports with paved runways. It is approved for entering known icing and has anti-ice and deicing systems on board. Because the de-icing systems use bleed air from the engines, there is a noticeable difference in power when engaging the de-icing systems.

The one thing that is obvious when onboard a Citation X is that it has tremendous power. You do get pinned to your seat when the brakes are released. Still, it is not as noisy as some of the other jets I’ve been in. The take-off roll is smooth, like many of the other Citations due to its trailing link main gear.

The same can be said for landing. Touchdowns are usually sweet as long as you come in with no energy left in the airplane. Every measure of additional energy you carry when you cross the numbers will float you down the runway that much longer.

Most aircraft are forgiving in this regard, but the Citation X is not. Remember you are flying a supercritical wing that is designed to fly, it will not want to land until you sap it of all energy.

Takeoff

At MTOW and 15 degrees of flaps, take off distance on a dry runway and zero wind in ISA conditions is 5,140 feet to clear a 35-foot obstacle. The Citation X is prohibited from attempting takeoff at MTOW when temperatures exceed 106 degrees Fahrenheit at sea level.

At 36,100 pounds and 15 degrees of flaps, Decision speed, V1, is typically 129 knots indicated airspeed. Rotation speed, Vr, is 133 kias, and Safety speed, V2, is 137 kias.

An engine failure before Decision Speed, mandates an aborted takeoff, with throttles to idle and full braking. The Citation X’s Balanced field length is 5,343 feet.

A Citation X has the option to take off with five or fifteen degrees of flaps. At 5 degrees of flaps take off distance for MTOW in ISA conditions is 5,950 feet.

Approach and Landing

The Citation X is indeed a stable platform, making approaches and landing a breeze for the pilots and comfortable for the passengers. But they do demand precision, which requires planning. Bleeding off the cruise energy starting at the TOD (top of descent) is a good way to manage the aircraft as it makes its way to the Final Approach Fix.

There are two ways to do this. Setting the airspeed for the descent is one, and the FMC will manage the autothrottle to bleed off the excess energy. If you decide to hand-fly the airplane, be sure to follow your flight manual settings.

While approaches are stable, getting the right power setting is important or the plane will bust through speed limits below ten thousand feet. Most pilots agree the Citation X is slippery. Engaging the speed brakes whenever you have to, down to 500 feet AGL is a good way to get the aircraft under control.

Landing in ISA conditions at max landing weight requires 3,360 feet with full flaps. Vref at max landing eight is typically 131 KIAS.

Operation

The Citation X has a Maximum mach that you must not exceed for structural reasons and because the change in flight characteristics in transonic conditions can be destabilizing.

A warning is triggered at MMO which is M 0.92 indicated at altitudes above 30,650 feet. Below 30,650 and down to 8,000 feet, Vmo is 350 KIAS. Below 8,000 feet, it’s 270 KIAS.

The Citation X has three flap settings. At 5 degrees of flaps, you cannot exceed 250 KIAS. At 15 degrees of flaps, you cannot exceed 201 KIAS and at full flaps, you cannot exceed 180 KIAS.

Speed brakes can be operated at any airspeed. However, for landing gear, they cannot be extended beyond 201 KIAS or operated at that speed.

The Citation X has a Minimum Controllable speed with 5 degrees of flaps of 120 KIAS. With 15 degrees of flaps that increases to 112 KIAS. The minimum controllable speed on the ground is 111 KIAS. So even with an engine out at above this speed the aircraft can still be handled adequately.

Price

The price of a brand new Cessna Citation X in its last year of production was $21.5 million. That was in 2018. There are very few 2018 models available on the secondary market. Most of that market is now filled with 1999 – 2002 models which can be found for between $3m and $6 million.

With fuel prices at $7.6 for Jet A (I am using the price at my airport) flying the Citation X for 400 hours a year will cost  approximately $889,548. Maintenance, based on experience, is not more than $300,000 while the allocation for overhaul adds up to another $300,000 for 400 hours.

Landing and handling costs add up to about $150,000. With another $20,000 added in for the miscellaneous cost, my total direct operating cost works out to be $1.66 million for flying 400 hours in a year.

Add to that there are fixed costs that need to be computed. A flight crew will cost $250,000 a year in salaries alone, whilst the recurrent training they’ll need to keep them fresh is an additional $40,000 a year. Hangaring the Citation X is $60,000 a year with insurance adding $25,000. That brings my total fixed cost to $488,000.

DOC and Fixed Costs give me $2.15 million a year for 400 hours of flight time averaging about $5,368 per hour. Considering I can get from LA to New York in less than five hours flying the Citation X, my cost to get eight passengers is just over $26,000 or $3,355 per person.

About THE AUTHOR

Joe Haygood

Joe Haygood

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.

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