The business jet market has shown healthy growth in recent years and Cessna has reaffirmed its desire to join the big hitters with the maiden flight of the Citation Longitude.

The super-midsize jet took to the sky on October 8 from Cessna's east campus Beech Field Airport in Kansas with experimental test pilots Ed Wenninger and Stuart Rogerson at the controls. During the two-hour flight, the flaps, landing gear, pressurization, stability, and control systems were put through their paces.

The Longitude prototype's first flight comes four years after it was first announced and less than a year after Cessna released details of its design. Part of the company's family of larger business jets, it's the follow-on the canceled Citation Columbus and has essentially the same fuselage as the Cessna Citation Latitude. Cessna calls it a "clean-sheet design" aimed at providing the lowest ownership costs in its class.

Being a business class jet, Cessna is keen to highlight the comfort it can provide for up to 12 passengers. The cabin pressure is claimed to be the lowest altitude in its class at the equivalent of 5,950 ft (1,813 m). The cabin has high-speed Wi-Fi as well as a stand-up, flat-floor architecture, a standard double-club configuration, and a walk-in baggage compartment that is flight-accessible.

The 73 ft (22 m) Longitude has the latest version of the Garmin G5000 flight deck with optional head-up display and night vision, ergonomic design, and an advanced on-board diagnostic system that can isolate faults and provide the crew with real-time answers to deal with problems.

The Longitude has a 67 ft (20 m) wingspan and is powered by twin Honeywell HTF7700L turbofan engines pumping 7,550 lb (33.58 kN) of thrust. This allows the Longitude to achieve a maximum cruise speed of 476 kt (548 mph, 882 km/h) and a range of 3,400 nm (6,297 km).

According to Cessna, the prototype Longitude will carry on as a technology test bed with an emphasis on testing flight controls and aerodynamics, while the first production model will roll off the line in weeks destined for systems testing.

"I was extremely pleased with the performance of the Longitude during the first flight," says Rogerson. "The level of maturity in flight characteristics is already very high. I was particularly impressed with how intuitive the flight systems are, validating the extensive integration work done by our development teams. We accomplished everything we wanted to do during this maiden flight, setting the pace for the flight test program."

Sources: Cessna, Textron

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