The Cessna Citation III was the first of the Model 650 series of Citation jets, which are mid-sized, high-performance business jets. The Citation III led to the later development of the Citation VI and Citation VII. The 650 series was the second of six distinct "families" of jets marketed by Cessna Aircraft Company under its Cessna Citation brand.
Design and development
While the Citation I and II were successful from a sales perspective, their nearest competitors were twin turboprop aircraft. Cessna decided it needed a high performance, mid-sized jet to compete with the growing market of fast corporate jets. To develop such an aircraft, Cessna started from scratch for its design, rather than building on the exising Citation product line. Development of the Citation III began in 1978, and the prototype made its first flight on May 2, 1980. After a typical development flight test program, the aircraft received its FAA type certification on April 30, 1982.
The aircraft is flown by a crew of two, and with a typical corporate interior will seat six passengers, although in a high-density configuration, it can seat up to nine. It was powered by a pair of Garrett TFE731-3B turbofan engines.
In 1983, just after the first aircraft were delivered to customers, the Citation III set several class records, including two time-to-climb records and an overall speed record of 5 hours, 13 minutes for a flight from Gander, Newfoundland to Paris' Le Bourget Airport. Production continued for nine years until 1992, with a total of 202 Citation IIIs being built.
In 1989, Cessna announced that the Citation III would be upgraded with larger fuel tanks for extra range, while other modifications would increased the aircraft's short-field performance. However, Cessna cancelled the program before the first aircraft was built.
Instead of the Citation IV, Cessna focused their attention on developing two other versions of the III simultaneously. The first of these, the Citation VI, was intended to be an economy version of the III, with a basic, standardized avionics package and a generic cabin interior, without the option of custom interiors that were designed for each customer as was the practice with the III. The first flight of the VI took place in 1991, but the market didn't respond well. Only 39 aircraft were built before the model was discontinued in May 1995.
The second aircraft that Cessna worked on after the cancellation of the IV was the Citation VII, which again was based on the III but intended to take a big step forward in performance. Improved Garrett TFE731-4R engines enabled the aircraft to operate from higher-altitude airfields during hotter weather, when density altitude prohibited operations of the III. First flight of the VII took place in February, 1991, and by the time production ended nine years later, 119 aircraft had been built.
Specifications (Citation III)
Data from The Cessna Citations, (Donald J. Porter)
Published - July 2009
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