After five years in service, the CESSNA CITATION LATITUDE aircraft topped the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) list as the most delivered midsize business jet for the fourth consecutive year, with 58 aircraft delivered in 2019 and 234 total delivered through Q1 of 2020. On the aircraft’s fifth anniversary, several of those who work closely with the Citation Latitude aircraft, took some time to explain why.
Whelen Engineering has operated a myriad of Citation jets, the latest for the company is the Latitude aircraft. Chief Pilot Dennis Piscitello has been with the company for 20 years and with more than 18,000 hours in the cockpit, he knows aircraft.
“We love it. It’s been great. Textron Aviation has been great to us,” Piscitello said.
Similarly, Rogers Group has operated many Citation jets over several decades. Headquartered in Nashville, TN, Rogers Group is the largest privately-owned aggregate/crush stone company in the United States. Myron Lasater, Director of Aviation, said when he joined the company, it already had its Citation Latitude jet, which became his office.
“We’re continuing to grow and expand, and this airplane fits our mission perfectly,” Lasater said.
You’ll find another longtime Citation operator in Aerolíneas Ejecutivas, which utilizes its jets a bit differently as it operates the fractional and charter company MexJet. With a lineup of 30 aircraft, MexJet has been in the market for more than 20 years and has continuously updated its fleet. Alexis Javkin, Director of MexJet, said extensive analyzation and research brought the company to the Citation Latitude aircraft.
“We grew our customer base with the Latitude and we grew 15% in terms of flight hours,” Javkin said.
Though the three companies have distinct missions, all had similar things to say about the best-selling midsize jet.
If you’ve never explored private aviation, you may not be as familiar as these men are with comparing aircraft. They all have their highlights and mission capabilities that suit specific individuals. But these customers say the Citation Latitude aircraft is somehow still different. Though each favored specific aspects of the aircraft, they all focused on four major reasons the jet is so popular – comfort, quietness, performance flexibility and service.
“As the customer gets into the aircraft, I think they start to see what the future of aviation looks like, in terms of technology and comfort,” Javkin said.
Comfort was the first thing these Citation Latitude jet customers wanted to discuss. From the flat floors and six-foot tall cabin to the additional space in the cockpit, comfort cannot be ignored, and these men say they hear about it often.
“It’s the most comfortable airplane I’ve flown in regard to creature comfort, the cockpit environment and roominess,” Lasater said. “I can fly this airplane all day long and when I’m done, I feel great. The lower cabin altitude of the airplane makes it really nice to spend your day in.”
Javkin says the tall cabins were “shocking” for him as a tall man. He said most cabins that advertise as “stand up” cabins truly aren’t, whereas the Latitude jet’s 6-foot cabin allowed him to stretch his back. He also added, “The space between the seats is far more than any aircraft that might compete.”
Piscitello agreed with the spaciousness of the cabin saying, “The head room is a big plus. Everyone likes it.” He also said as a pilot, the extra room up front makes a difference.
In speaking with MexJet fractional and charter customers, Javkin said many tell him they appreciate a comfortable lavatory. He said customers often say other midsize or smaller aircraft advertise a lavatory, but they are uncomfortable, whereas the Latitude aircraft’s is the opposite.
Comfort didn’t simply come from extra space. These men said comfort also relates to a lack of distraction and the Citation Latitude jet provides a cabin so quiet, distraction is the farthest thing from a passenger or pilot’s mind.
For an executive jet that often takes on a business-related mission, it was imperative to Citation Latitude jet designers to create a work environment without disruption. That resulted in a cabin Lasater described as “eerie” at first, because it’s entirely different than what many passengers are used to on commercial or other private aircraft.
Javkin added, “The first time I got into the plane and we were taking off, I was amazed by how quiet it was. It sounded like it was an electric powered engine instead of fuel. The noise was so different. Once you experience that, you really see what technology is.”
Whelen Engineering’s Piscitello said the executives on board take advantage of the quietness to keep their business moving.
“Everybody uses the internet and can focus to get work done,” he said.
3. PERFORMANCE FLEXIBILITY
While it’s one thing for those inside the cabin to enjoy the space and be able to get work done, an aircraft also must meet the ultimate mission. The Citation Latitude midsize jet, these men say, does just that.
“The airplane is perfect for our mission,” Lasater said of Rogers Group’s aircraft. “The short field capabilities and useful load accomplishes everything we need in our day to day missions.”
In addition to the 12,394 pounds of useful load, Piscitello also mentioned the flexibility in the 2,480 feet landing distance of the aircraft when he said, “The field lengths make it more user-friendly for going into some airports where you don’t need the 8,000 feet all the time. That works out pretty well.”
Javkin said when he’s been in the aircraft, he felt the capabilities without even being in the cockpit.
“The way it moves when you’re taking off or landing, you have that peace of mind… I was really shocked, and it was a great experience for me,” he said.
A great experience is also what Textron Aviation strives for in supporting customers after the purchase. All Textron Aviation aircraft are backed by a worldwide customer support team available at any given time. With company-owned service centers and mobile service units across the globe, it’s never been easier to get factory-level service.
Whelen Engineering has always taken advantage of both the company-owned service centers and the programs Textron Aviation offers, including ProAdvantage, ProParts and many others, to complement any aftermarket support.
“This airplane has never seen anything but Textron Aviation service centers. We use them exclusively. We are on all the programs which helps a lot and saves a lot. I highly recommend it and in previous sales of other airplanes, it’s helped with the sale,” Piscitello said.
His reasoning comes from a long-established relationship with individuals at Textron Aviation. The one-on-one relationships are what takes a midsize jet like the Citation Latitude and a large corporation like Textron Aviation down to the feel of a small company with a personal experience.
“I have people in Wichita who I know. My experience started with Team Sovereign and I have names and phone numbers I can go to right away, so my experience has always been great. I get answers right away. They know who I am, and they know the diagnostic process so we can usually get things taken care of rapidly and it works out well,” he said.
Recently, Lasater experienced the effects of the uncertain times while planning for maintenance Textron Aviation’s Orlando Service Center.
“We were a little tense at the time when COVID was going full strength. We had scheduled the first week of April going into a major inspection requiring four weeks of down time. It was a big inspection and I was on pins and needles until I was confident that the service center held our best interest and did all they could do for us,” he said.
“We picked the airplane up four weeks later, test flew it and it had absolutely no squawks. We returned to home base and I was thoroughly impressed with the maintenance team and the job that they had done.”
The men say while comfort, quietness, performance flexibility and service are the major reasons they prefer the Citation Latitude jet, they are not the only reasons. MexJet’s Javkin said it’s been an aircraft that’s helped grow the fractional and charter business he operates. Of MexJet’s 30 aircraft, there are three Citation Latitude jets, accounting for 10% of the fleet. But the acquisition of the aircraft, Javkin said, has led to greater growth.
“Now the Latitude is 15% of our business in terms of flight hours. We have a lot of customers and new customers to our business and part of the reason is because we offer products like this of a certain quality, which match their needs,” he said.
Piscitello concluded by stating, “The reliability of the airplane, the comfort of the airplane, the overall ability of the airplane and the service on the road all get high marks.”
The men say they continue to see these high marks in Citation aircraft and that the quality of the Citation Latitude jet competes with aircraft requiring a far more significant investment. When an aircraft meets the mission, is relaxing, quiet and comfortable to fly in, is backed by a worldwide support network and makes sense for the bottom line, there’s no other option.