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Key Takeaways

  • The Cessna Citation XLS is a mid-sized business jet, based on the original Cessna Citation jet, originally designed in 1972, with significant improvements and modifications.
  • It has an economical fuel burn figure and is more affordable than competitors such as the Learjet.
  • The Cessna Citation XLS delivers excellent climb performance and range for its price.

When deciding which aircraft to buy, you need to research carefully and find out all the facts. Here is a comprehensive guide to the Cessna Citation XLS.

A new Cessna Citation XLS Gen2 costs $15.5 million; a normal used price for an XLS is $9.9 million. Examples from 2005 fetch $5.8 million. Powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW545C turbofans producing 4,119 lbf each, the XLS cruises at 441 knots (507 mph) with average fuel burn of 210 gallons per hour.

As a corporate pilot with type ratings for several different Cessna aircraft, I am intimately familiar with the Citation XLS. In fact, it’s among the best aircraft I’ve ever flown on and easily one of my favorite aircraft.

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Cessna Citation XLS Overview

Before we dive into the details, let’s take an overall look at the whole plane. The Cessna Citation XLS is a mid-sized business jet built by American airplane manufacturer Cessna. It is a twin-engine, low-wing executive jet aircraft.

First produced in 2004, the XLS is a derivative of the Citation Excel, which first flew in February 1996. In turn, the Excel arose from the original Citation, launched in 1972.

Unlike some earlier Citations which had T-tail configuration, the XLS has a cruciform tail, with the horizontal stabilizer intersecting the tail fin about half-way up, providing smooth airflow to the rudder and elevators. The wing is an unswept, supercritical design. The XLS inherited both features from the Citation V.

The latest production model is the Cessna Citation XLS Gen2, which can carry 12 passengers at 441 knots for 2,100 miles. It is aimed at the business executive market, for those who want to travel in comfort, maintain productivity, and reach their destination quickly.

The XLS is popular with pilots. It has a state-of-the-art glass cockpit and it is powerful, responsive and rewarding to fly. Like all the Citation series, the XLS is a two-pilot aircraft, operated in a similar manner to a small jet airliner.

Now that we have a broad-brush picture of the Cessna Citation XLS and we are getting acquainted with it, let’s take a look at the details, figures and specifications that make it unique.

Cessna Citation XLS Specifications

The Cessna Citation XLS combines a luxurious, spacious cabin environment with impressive performance statistics - a combination that makes the Cessna Citation range the first go-to for many business jet customers.

Specification Cessna Citation XLS
Engine 2 x Pratt & Whitney PW545C turbofans
Engine Thrust 4,119 lbf per engine
Climb rate 3,500 fpm (800 fpm with one engine inoperative)
Max operating altitude 45,000 ft
Cabin altitude at ceiling 6,800 ft
Max cruise speed 441 knots
Stall speed 106 kias
Range 2,100 miles at 441 knots
Fuel capacity (Jet A) 1,106 gal
Fuel burn 240 gal per hour
Payload 2,370 lb
Max takeoff weight 20,200 lb
Landing distance 4,738 ft
Length 52 ft 9 in
Wingspan 57 ft 4 in
Height 17 ft 2 in

How Much Does A Cessna Citation XLS cost?

Buying an airplane is one of the biggest expenses you are ever likely to incur, so it is worth looking carefully at all the options. The Cessna Citation series has gained an excellent reputation over its long history and it still ranks among the best of the bizjets.

The outlay to buy a Cessna Citation XLS can be anything between $5.8 million and $15.5 million, depending on the year of manufacture and specifications. As the model is well established in the business jet market, there is a wide range of choice.

The Cessna Citation XLS has been around since 2004 and there are hundreds of examples out there. The cost of owning and running a Citation XLS comprises a number of factors and we will look into each.

The cost of owning an airplane consists of the purchase expense plus the ongoing costs of keeping the aircraft airworthy, crewed and running. Here is an article that explains in detail the different types of cost you will encounter as an aircraft owner.

Cessna Citation XLS Purchase Cost

As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. A brand new Citation XLS Gen2, fresh from the Wichita production line, runs out at $15.5 million. If your budget does not stretch to that, consider a pre-owned Citation XLS.

Today, used Cessna Citation XLS models are changing hands for an average price of just under $10 million. To pick up a lower-priced deal, look for examples that have been in service for longer, with full usage logs and maintenance history.

By opting for a used aircraft, you can of course pick it up for a lower price than a new one. However, with a new aircraft, you are the first owner and there will not be any unpleasant surprises arising from the plane’s prior usage.

If you do go for a used example, be sure to check the log carefully and have the aircraft inspected thoroughly for fatigue cracks and evidence of any structural repairs that have been carried out.

There are several 2005 XLS aircraft on the market for around $5.8 million. Vendors may be amenable to offers if their planes have been advertised for a while.

Whether you opt for new or used, remember to consider the interest charges you will need to budget for, if you finance the purchase of your Citation XLS rather than pay for it outright in one go.

Operating Costs

Once you have decided, and purchased your Citation XLS, the costs do not end there. You will need to have an annual budget that takes into account fuel, parking and storage, maintenance, crew costs including training, insurance and sundries.

The total annual budget depends on how many hours per year your XLS will be flying. Fuel (Jet A is currently $7.23 per gallon) is just one part of the budget that depends on hours flown. There are also engine overhauls to consider, and ad-hoc crew costs.

According to this cost calculator, if you are a comparatively light user whose airplane will fly for 200 hours per year, expect to spend approximately $941,000 annually. A more typical usage pattern of 400 hours per year will mean an annual budget of $1,493,000.

Of course, you can offset the various costs against the advantages that a fast, modern, luxurious business jet will bring to you and your company, in terms of revenue from deals and connecting you in person with all the key people you need to interact with.

Cessna Citation XLS Performance

So, what kind of performance can you expect from your Citation XLS? As a jet aircraft, it’s hardly surprising that she eclipses turboprop and piston-engined competitors, but let’s look into the specifics of that.

How High Does the Cessna Citation XLS Fly?

Whether you are flying as a passenger in the spacious, comfortable cabin or as a pilot in the front left seat, you will be impressed with what this airplane can do. In calm winds, those twin PW turbofans will give you a cruising ground speed of 507 miles per hour.

Reaching your cruise altitude is a breeze, given the Citation XLS’s brisk climb rate of 3,500 feet per minute. In the unlikely event that an engine fails on take-off, the aircraft is still capable of climbing away safely at 800 feet per minute, clearing obstacles and maintaining control.

The Citation XLS can reach cruise altitude in 18-20 minutes, which is impressively fast and contributes to passenger comfort. In the cruise, the cabin pressure maintains an effective altitude of 6,800 feet, which is much lower than a typical airliner.

In unusual circumstances, such as a single engine landing, you can rest assured that the XLS’s stall speed is a confidence-inspiring 106 knots. That is the speed when the wings stop generating lift. Thanks to the wing and empennage design, the stall speed is comfortingly low.

If the aircraft does approach a stall situation, underspeed protection will automatically activate. A synthesized voice will call out, “Airspeed.” The stick shaker will begin to operate, with a red warning appearing on the primary flight display.

If the pilot takes no corrective action, the autopilot will lower the nose slightly, to increase airspeed and avoid a stall. The avionics will continue to display warnings while this is going on, including a Master Caution warning.

The autopilot will also level the wings to conserve airspeed. Once the pilot corrects by adding power, the autopilot will revert to its previous mode and continue the flight. The underspeed protection system is designed to conserve the airplane’s energy as much as possible, while avoiding a stall.

While the Citation XLS might not have the same high-powered performance as some of its competitors, such as the Learjet, it does have lower operating costs and is therefore an attractive alternative for the budget-minded. It also has outstanding short-field runway performance.

How High Does the Cessna Citation XLS Fly?

Speed over the ground is one thing, but what about altitude? If you have an important in-flight conference with a client or potential business partner, you want to be able to climb above any rough weather, so everything goes smoothly in more ways than one.

The Citation XLS’s turbofans can power her up to 45,000 feet if necessary, so you can keep clear of any rough stuff. You will also be above most other traffic, as the majority of airliners cruise below 41,000 feet. At those altitudes, the air is thin and turbulence is unusual.

Those performance characteristics come from a combination of factors. The Citation XLS’s wing gives excellent lift, coupled with low drag in the cruise phase of flight. The distinctive empennage confers good elevator and rudder authority at a range of speeds and altitudes. The other factor is the power plants.

What Engines Does the Cessna Citation XLS Have?

Pratt & Whitney 500 series turbofans are designed specifically for the business jet market. The Cessna Citation XLS has two PW545C engines, mounted on either side of the rear fuselage. The location of the engines keeps the wing clear, improving wing performance.

The rear-mounted engines also help with weight distribution and balance of the aircraft, allowing the wing and main landing gear to be placed quite a long way aft. That improves visibility for the pilot, as the view of the ground is unobstructed by the wing.

The 500 series of engines gives a great combination of performance and environment-friendliness. Turbofans are much quieter than turboprop engines, as the air bypassing the engine core insulates the outside world from noise inside the power plant.

The engines have a great record of delivering power reliably, on demand. They incorporate a three-stage high-pressure compressor, and the rotors have integral blades, which keeps down the number of parts in the engine and simplifies maintenance.

The PW545C is dedicated to the Cessna Citation XLS and is not made for any other aircraft. The tailor-made engines contribute to the airplane’s impressively low fuel burn, which gives her a range of 2,100 miles.

Cessna Citation XLS Fuel Burn Rate

Overall, the Cessna Citation XLS burns 240 gallons of Jet A fuel per hour. Of course, most of the fuel burn occurs early in the flight, during takeoff when the engines are developing the most thrust, and in the climb. At cruise altitude, the engines are practically sipping fuel.

So, it is worth burning some fuel to haul the plane - and the unburnt fuel - up to a high cruise level, so you can save by burning less fuel while you are up there. Once you reach the top of descent, the engines throttle back, and you burn even less fuel with the throttles at flight idle.

The airplane’s engines are designed to integrate efficiently with the avionics, controlling fuel flow for optimum economy and performance. Fuel is one of the biggest expenses an airplane owner has to budget for, so let’s take a closer look at the fuel used by the Citation XLS.

What Kind of Fuel Does the Cessna Citation XLS Use?

The Cessna Citation XLS uses Jet-A fuel, which is a type of kerosene, like a refined version of domestic kerosene. Jet fuel is safe to transport around because it is less volatile than the gasoline used in cars and piston-powered airplane engines. It does not vaporize at low temperatures.

Because of those properties, Jet A has a high flash point - so it does not give off flammable vapors at normal environmental temperatures - and a high auto-ignition temperature, so it will not explode or burst into flame without an activating spark.

To start a jet engine, igniters are used to produce a spark and ignite the fuel. Once the engine is running, with hot gasses driving the turbine blades around, fuel fed into the engine ignites spontaneously in the hot engine core and the igniters are no longer needed.

Jet A is not the only option for the versatile Cessna Citation XLS. This forward-thinking airplane was among the first to be able to run on an exciting new energy source, Sustainable Aviation Fuel.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Although a business jet like the Citation XLS has much lower carbon emission figures than a heavy commercial airliner, it carries only a handful of passengers, so the carbon footprint per person is much greater. Environmental campaigners see private jets as extravagant destroyers of the biosphere.

That’s why the Cessna Citation XLS is a great choice of airplane for those conscious of the need to preserve the environment, because it can fly on sustainable aviation fuel. Using SAF can lead to 80% less carbon dioxide emission than burning traditional fossil fuels.

SAF is made from readily available alternatives to crude oil. That includes soybeans, mustard seeds, non-edible oils (for example, used cooking oil) and animal fats. Before long, we expect other sustainable sources, like crop waste and forest trimmings, to be viable ingredients for SAF.

All of the above sources are renewable. They are all made from carbon that is being extracted from the air, right now. They have not been lying under the ground for millions of years and so they do not add to the net total of carbon in the atmosphere.

Aviation has been getting bad press as a contributor to global carbon emissions, but the Citation XLS is part of the campaign for improvement. Customers can specify a fuel load of SAF when taking delivery of a new airplane.

If you refuel your Citation XLS at Textron’s Wichita service center, you can fill up with SAF instead of Jet A. And before you say SAF is too expensive, keep in mind that the cost of Jet A has risen sharply in the last two years, so the difference is not as great as it was.

In 2022, a gallon of SAF costs $8.67, only 20% more than Jet A. Maybe that’s a small price to pay for safeguarding the future of the planet, and the future of private aviation, which might otherwise come to be seen as a luxury the Earth can ill afford.

Specifically, if your Citation XLS flies 200 hours per year, you can expect to spend around $69,000 extra on fuel if you use SAF instead of Jet A, or an extra £138,000 if your flight hours are 400 per year.

The Cessna Citation XLS Experience

As a passenger, the first thing you will notice, if you have prior experience of earlier Citations, is the enhanced sense of space. The plush leather seats have been redesigned to stand slightly inboard of the wall, in contrast to the tightly built-in configuration in the older cabins.

Settle into your seat, fasten your over-the-shoulder seat belt and take a look around you. The seats are arranged in a standard club configuration, allowing face-to-face conversation. The cabin allows you space to stand up.

The cabin environment feels opulent and welcoming. Space is used to great effect and, despite the compactness of the aircraft, there is no sense of claustrophobia. The cabin is light and airy, promising a comfortable flight, at the end of which you will feel relaxed and productive.

Another thing you will notice is the lack of clutter, because the Citation has a large, externally accessible baggage hold aft of the passenger cabin. There is a toilet at the aft end of the cabin. Storage units at the forward end include a cocktail cabinet and coffee pot.

Cessna offers a range of color schemes as options on a new aircraft. Of course, if you are looking at the used airplane market, you’ll be stuck with whatever interior cabin trim your chosen aircraft has. Perhaps the color might be a factor in your decision.

If you are a pilot or an aircraft engineer, you will observe how easily the aircraft systems can be accessed, via external hatches, for inspection and maintenance. In the cockpit, the instruments are arranged in an intuitive glass-cockpit configuration, with backup instruments, giving an instant sense of familiarity.

You will have no problems obtaining spare parts and getting maintenance and overhauls done on schedule. There are service centers all over the USA, and spares for Cessna aircraft, and Pratt & Whitney engines, are readily available.

As an option, you can upgrade to the Garmin G5000 avionics package, further enhancing the ergonomics and instrumentation available to the pilot. The upgrade gives access to the best in satellite navigation capability, flight management systems and operational support, with graphical display technologies that are second to none, enhancing situational awareness.

With its combination of lively performance and budget purchase price for a business jet, the Cessna Citation XLS is an attractive choice for first-time bizjet owners, or those upgrading from smaller aircraft.