Citation Sovereign

By By Fred George fred.george@aviationweek.com
Source: Business & Commercial Aviation

Sovereign's 100-cu.-ft. aft external baggage compartment ranks high with operators, particularly those moving up from light jets or Hawkers. The aircraft also has a storage compartment forward of the entry door and a coat closet aft of the lavatory that together offer 35 cu. ft. of interior luggage volume.

This is one of the few midsize aircraft that has windows in the lavatory that provide bright, daylight illumination. The ambient light makes the lavatory appear larger than it is. Both windows have pull-down shades for privacy.

Stopping performance and the aircraft's long-life carbon brakes are favorite features. The aircraft's low landing speeds, thrust reversers and large, dual main landing gear all contribute to good stopping performance and extended brake life. Some operators say they've amassed in excess of 700 landings with no need to replace the brake heat packs. Cessna designed the brakes to last 1,000-plus landings.

Operators like the Sovereign's simple Citation systems and its dispatch reliability. “It's a real workhorse, a transportation tool that's open to everybody in the company,” says Mark Wray of Schweitzer Engineering. The aircraft features a DC electrical system, manually operated flight controls, single point pressure refueling and a single air cycle machine pack that's supplied with bleed air by the Honeywell RE100 APU on the ground or the PW306C turbofans in flight.

Comparatively low direct operating cost scored well with management companies and charter operators. “It's an efficient airplane” says Ed Kilkeary, Jr. of Latrobe, Pa.-based LJ Aviation, a firm that operates four Sovereigns.

Worst Features

What don't operators like about the Sovereign? The Honeywell Primus Epic avionics suite came in for strong criticism (please see Avionics sidebar). Operators say it doesn't deliver on promises that Cessna and Honeywell made for it when they received their aircraft. It's an early version of Epic that didn't benefit from the highly focused development work Honeywell put into Gulfstream's PlaneView suite and Dassault's EASy/EASy II cockpits, they say. It's more on a plane with the kit installed in the now out-of-production Hawker 4000.

Operators also say the aircraft has heavy control forces, especially in roll. Three, hydraulically powered roll spoilers augment the roll control authority provided by the ailerons, but they don't alleviate the heavy control forces.

“It handles like a vintage Cadillac — without power steering,” says Keith Winkelmann who flies s.n. 210 based in Houston. Sovereign has a wingspan only 7 in. shorter than Citation X, but it lacks its hydraulically-powered flight controls.

Pilots aren't fond of the engines' electric starting system. They say it taxes the output of both the RE100 APU and the NiCad or lead-acid batteries, so engine starting is slow and sometimes difficult. Many say they prefer an air turbine starting system, such as that used on Fairchild Dornier 328JET, also equipped with PW306 turbofans.


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