Mission profile was paramount for many operators during their purchase evaluations. If they needed longer legs and room for six passengers, they were attracted to the CJ3. But for most people, the CJ2+ was a better match for their range/payload needs.
“I bought CJ3 s.n. 1 in February 2005. It was a magnificent airplane,” says Stuart Fred, who flies CJ2+ s.n. 489, which he purchased in December 2011. “But the $1.5 million difference in price between the CJ2+ and CJ3 buys a lot of fuel for the 260-nm loss of range.”
“If you're going to be flying more than 1,500 nm and carrying more than four passengers, then the CJ3 is a better fit,” says Casey Miller, president of Latitude 33 Consulting, a management firm in Carlsbad, Calif., that cares for nine CJs and one Citation Mustang.
Previous Citation owners make up the largest share of CJ2+ operators. Many formerly operated CitationJet, CJ1 and legacy CJ2 aircraft. Some flew Citation Mustangs or legacy 500/550 series Citations. A few moved down from CJ3 aircraft. A sprinkling previously operated single- or twin-turboprops, such as the TBM 700, Cessna 425/441, Conquest I/II or King Air 90/200 series.
Brand loyalty strongly influenced the purchase decision. Harold Bagwell, for example, started flying a Cessna 140 in 1964 and has owned Cessna products for nearly half a century. He currently flies CJ2+ s.n. 352, which he purchased in mid-2007, and he owns two other CJs plus a Cessna 210 Centurion and other personal single-engine airplanes. “I'm a 100% Cessna guy.”
Another operator said his first aircraft was a Cessna 182 Skylane. He then flew a Cessna 201 Centurion, Cessna 310 twin, Cessna 421 Golden Eagle, Citation 510 Mustang and Citation 550B Bravo before taking delivery of his CJ2+ in July 2010. Comfort with Cessna and confidence in its product support was a strong theme among operators.
“Starting with a Citation II, we've had a 15-year relationship with Cessna. We've had excellent product support and good success with the CJ series,” says Phillip “Flip” Schaitel, who flies s.n. 368 for Kennedy Rice Dryers LLC, based in Monroe, La. The firm previously operated a CitationJet and CJ2 prior to trading up to the CJ2+.
“It cost less and it had a lower cost per mile to operate than the CJ3, so it was a better fit for our missions,” says Randy Charron, who flies s.n. 394, based in Calgary, the first CJ2+ to be delivered to a Canadian operator.
Many operators considered competitive aircraft. Turboprop alternatives usually didn't make the cut because of slower cruise speeds and lower cruise altitudes, plus twin-turboprops didn't offer large gains in fuel efficiency. “It was going to be an all day long trip to New York, one in bad weather [cruise altitudes],” says Harvey Kautz, who operates s.n. 469, based in Shawnee, Okla. “We can cruise as fast as 420 KTAS and it only burns 120 gph [804 lb./hr. in cruise].”
Some looked at the Hawker Beechcraft Premier IA, but its 250- to 400-mi. range handicap and longer runway requirements disqualified it. Operators who usually fly with two pilots also considered the Hawker 400 and Learjet 40/45. But most non-commercial CJ2+ owner operators fly single pilot on the majority of their trips. Light jets that require two flight crewmembers thus were ruled out.