Some high utilization operators also say they've experienced coking of some engine bearings, requiring partial tear down prior to the scheduled 3,000-hr. hot section inspections or 6,000-hr. overhauls.
Heating and air conditioning received criticism. Operators say weak air distribution may be the problem. Cessna, in response, developed SB680-21-02, a cabin cooling modification that improves circulation by removing choke points in air distribution ducts.
The aircraft's relatively low 58.2 lb./sq. ft. wing loading helps endow the aircraft with superb runway and climb performance. The downside is a relatively rough ride in turbulence, operators say. The wing structure also isn't as supple as that of Citation X, so it lacks the aero-elasticity to soak up the bumps.
On Balance . . .
Sovereign's class leading short field performance continues to make it the top choice for operators who use small general aviation airports, ones typically with 4,000 ft. or shorter runways. It also enjoys strong support from operators who need to fly eight passengers 2,700+ nm at the lowest possible direct operating cost.
“It's got great runway performance, it's cheap to run, it sips gas,” says Eliopoulos.
Some wish the airplane had a higher cruising speed and another 200 nm of range, making it better suited for non-stop east to west transcontinental U.S. missions. For them, the $18.2 million second-generation Sovereign, slated to enter service later this year, may be enough of an improvement to get them to trade up. Some, though, are eying other options, particularly the $20 million Embraer Legacy 500, an aircraft that offers a wider, taller cabin with a flat floor, 20-kt. faster cruising speed and eight-passenger, tanks-full payload.
Perhaps Cessna's biggest selling point for the Sovereign is the firm's top ranked product support in this class of aircraft. “It's absolutely the best ever,” says LJ Aviation's Kilkeary. “Parts availability is superb,” says another operator.
But some caution that Cessna's “right sizing” of its workforce may have a negative impact in the future.
On balance, though, Sovereign appears to be the ultimate simple Citation, an everyday workhorse that consistently does many things well. While the light and midsize jet markets currently remain flat in the wake of the great recession, the long term outlook for Sovereigns is encouraging in the view of those who operate them.