20/Twenty: Citation CJ4 Challenges Competitors
The list price of the Cessna Citation CJ4 has risen by nearly $3 million over more than a decade of service, attesting as much to its modernization and market appeal as to the cost of living.
Flown by professional pilots as well as by owner-operators, the CJ4 entered the market in 2010 as the largest of the CitationJet family of light twinjets, the first of which launched more than two decades earlier.
It was more than just an extended, improved member of the CJ family, coming, for example, with a newly designed swept wing modeled after that of the larger Citation 680 Sovereign. “Cessna Aircraft just released the final performance numbers on the Citation CJ4 and the results are turning heads in São José dos Campos, Brazil,” the headquarters of Embraer, BCA reported in January 2010. “[T]he CJ4 is a far more advanced aircraft than the CJ3, embracing several new airframe technologies, plus it has better cabin systems and more baggage volume. Ninety percent of the aircraft is ‘clean sheet,’ according to Norm Baker, CJ4 program manager.”
The Model 525C Citation CJ4 can carry two crew and up to nine passengers. Its maximum range with NBAA IFR reserves, two crew and five passengers is 2,002 nm. Max cruise speed is 453 ktas. At maximum takeoff weight (17,110 lb.), the CJ4 needs 3,410 ft. of runway to take off and climb to its service ceiling of 45,000 ft. in 29 min. Payload available with usable fuel weight (5,828 lb.) is 1,122 lb.
Collins Avionics Innovations
Powering the CJ4 are two aft-mounted Williams FJ44-4A turbofans, each producing 3,600 lb. of thrust. The jet’s Collins Pro Line 21 flight deck features four, 8-by-10-in. portrait-configuration LCD screens. Two center-mounted multifunction control display units are used to program the flight management system and tune radios. The CJ4 was the first light jet fitted with Collins’ RTA-4112 MultiScan weather radar, which provides turbulence detection and alerting capability to 40 nm with overall range to 320 nm.
Parent company Textron Aviation announced the Cessna Citation CJ4 Gen2 in February 2021. The Gen2 iteration features passenger-centric improvements, including a new stair and folding handrail, premium seating options and enhanced ambiance lighting. The cabin includes an upgraded wireless cabin management system for passengers to stream entertainment and to wirelessly control cabin lighting, temperature and window shades from their wireless devises.
“With the CJ4 Gen2, we focused on a design that enhances passenger comfort with an elevated cabin to match the performance capabilities already trusted by Citation CJ4 owners,” said Christi Tannahill, senior vice president of customer experience. “Developments in technology have allowed us to introduce new design elements. A first for Citation light jets are the CoolView Skylights and a vanity option, which give our customers the atmosphere of a large aircraft with light jet performance capabilities.”
At the end of 2022, the global CJ4 in-service fleet comprised 338 jets, of which 262 (77.5%) were based in North America, according to the Aviation Week Fleet Discovery database. Two other CJ4s were in the possession of a non-operator. There were 50 CJ4 Gen2 jets in service, 38 based in North America.
The factory-new list price of a 2010 CJ4 was $8.43 million, which had increased to $10.95 million 10 years later, according to the Aircraft Bluebook. The list price of a 2022 CJ4 Gen2 was $11.3 million.
CFS Jets, an International Aircraft Dealers Association accredited dealer based in Cornelius, North Carolina, in late December counted five CJ4 transactions pending, nine jets advertised for sale and several others becoming available in 2023.
Early model-year (2010-11) CJ4s typically sell in the upper $6 million range; later models (2013-20s) sell from upper $7 million to $10 million, and very late models were tracking close to factory-new list price, says CFS Jets Partner David Monacell.
Textron Aviation’s pre-owned sales department in January reported eight CJ4 and four CJ4 Gen2s listed for sale. Model year 2021 Gen2s have been selling in the low $11 million range; year 2022 models have been selling in the mid-to-upper $11 million range, the department said—approximating or even exceeding the Bluebook list price.
CJ4s compete for sales with the Embraer Phenom 300/E and Pilatus PC-24 light jets. “Most clients view the Phenom 300 as the closest direct competitor,” Monacell advises. “The [Pilatus] PC24 is an interesting, recently introduced alternative, and there are a variety of considerations if the client wanders into an airplane requiring two crew.”
The CJ4 cabin, stretched from its predecessor, the CJ3, measures 58 in. wide, 57 in. high (from the ceiling to a dropped centerline aisle) and 17 ft., 3 in. long. There are five windows on the left side of the fuselage and six on the right. The jet’s pressurization system provides a cabin altitude of 7,800 ft. at FL450.
CJ4 interiors are configured for eight or nine passengers. The eight-seat cabin has a single, side-facing seat opposite the entry door; double-club seating for four passengers; a single forward-facing row of two seats behind the club section; and an externally serviced, belted lavatory aft. In the nine-seat cabin, a two-seat couch replaces the single seat opposite the entry door. If the jet is flown single-pilot, the right seat is available for another passenger, increasing capacity to nine or 10 passengers.
“The CJ4 has floor tracking seats in addition to full-movement pedestal seats with 180-deg. swivel capability,” noted Textron Aviation. “There is over 33 in. of leg room when a seat is fully tracked back—no other light jet offers this much leg room.”
Legacy CJ4s featured the Collins’ Venue cabin management system, which controls cabin lighting, window shades and entertainment systems. “This is the first narrow-cabin Citation to have a temperature controller in the main cabin and the first small Citation to have electrically powered window shades,” BCA reported in 2010.
“Historically, the CJ4 had the best fit and finish in its class; in recent years competitors have made strides closing this gap,” Monacell says. “It is most noticeable in comparing early CJ4s to competitors.”
The basic inspection interval of the CJ4 MSG-3 scheduled maintenance program is 600 hr./12 months. The engine time between overhaul is 5,000 hr. with the Williams International TapAdvantage Blue program.
Owners should expect $1,559.42 per hr. in direct operating costs (including fuel, engine program, typical maintenance), according to Textron Aviation, using 2022 data.
BCAʼs 2022 Operations Planning Guide estimates CJ4 Gen2 direct costs of $4,219 for a 1,000 nm mission, based on a nationwide average Jet-A fuel cost of $6.94 per gallon at the time of publication. Direct costs include mission fuel consumed, maintenance labor, parts and reserve costs apportioned to the actual flight time for the mission length.
BCA welcomes comment and insight from aircraft dealers and brokers for its monthly 20/Twenty pre-owned aircraft market feature. The focus aircraft for February is the Airbus ACH145 helicopter. To participate, contact [email protected].