Garmin Upgrades the Venerable Citation Excel/XLS

Garmin Upgrades the Venerable Citation Excel/XLS

Garmin Upgrades the Venerable Citation Excel/XLS

Operators of the Cessna Citation Excel and XLS (CE560XL) will soon have a great opportunity to upgrade their airplanes with the latest avionics technology. Garmin is in the final stages of certification of the G5000 avionics suite for the Excel and XLS, which they expect to be completed in Q1 of 2019.

The Excel, with Honeywell Primus avionics, was certified in 1998 and 308 models were produced before performance and other upgrades resulted in the XLS in 2006. Cessna then sold 330 models of this version before the latest factory version, the XLS+ rolled out in 2008, featuring the full Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionic suite. The G5000 upgrade is a total replacement of the avionics in these models, including the autopilot. Based upon the popular Garmin G3000/G5000 series, this Garmin upgrade offers operators vastly improved situational awareness and the ability to access RNAV/GPS approaches with lower minimums, thanks to the inclusion of WAAS and PBN/RNP 0.3 LPV/APV approach capabilities.

The package also includes the integrated digital Garmin Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS). In addition to the obvious advantages of an integrated auto-flight system such as precise steering and fault detection, the Garmin AFCS offers Emergency Descent Mode (EDM), first found in the Citation Mustang and Embraer Phenom 100. If the aircraft experiences a loss in pressurization at high altitude, the autopilot will switch to heading mode, turn left 90 degrees from the current course and descend to 15,000 feet. (Note, since the 560XL does not have autothrottles, the pilot still has to reduce the power to idle to complete the emergency descent procedure, however it does make the process easier.)

No new avionics upgrade would be complete without ADS-B Out and WAAS. While ADS-B In is not available at this time, with the increased processing capability of the G5000, multiple SiriusXM weather products can be displayed simultaneously on the displays if operators choose this option. This upgrade also includes the Doppler-enabled Garmin GWX 75 weather radar in the package. If the owners wish to have the latest in Garmin weather detection, an optional upgrade is the Garmin GWX 80 Radar which provides a 3D scanning of potential precipitation hazards as well as hail, lightning and wind shear prediction. This upgrade will be available after the STC is completed.

The integrated autopilot system controller is located where the annunciator panel was before. This is possible since Garmin has integrated all of the annunciator features, and engine instruments into the displays. All messages and engine information now appear on the displays with the integrated Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System (EICAS), providing pilots easy access to the status of their engines as well as advisory, caution, and warning messages. In addition, the battery emergency bus now powers the pilot’s PFD, MFD as well as other components.

Garmin offers multiple communication enhancement options to meet various operational requirements. With the increased use of Link 2000+ and CPDLC (Controller Pilot Data Link Communications) many operators upgrading to the G5000 in the Excel/XLS will probably choose this communication option, or the simpler package that omits CPDLC however it does provide PDC (Pre-Departure Clearance) and digital ATIS capability and other functions. 

Operators upgrading will also probably opt for the $35,000 Awareness and Protection (A&P) package that includes Synthetic Vision Technology (SVT), Garmin’s SurfaceWatch, Underspeed Protection and the Flightstream 510 wireless connectivity card. The Underspeed Protection (USP) is a unique feature and provides active airspeed management with the autopilot, as well as enables fully coupled go-arounds on approaches.  

Most new avionics suites offer pilots a way to wireless communicate between their Personal Electronic Devices (PED) and the panel. The Garmin Flight Stream 510 included in the A&P package is essentially a special purpose SD card which has both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. Wi-Fi is used for database updates and Bluetooth is used for sharing of traffic and weather with up to two mobile devices when connected to the G5000 avionics suite. It fully supports all of these features on Garmin’s Pilot app and some of the features with other third-party applications such as Foreflight. 

Excel owners can expect to spend approximately $500,000 for this upgrade package, plus options. Early adopters have received additional warranty upgrades and database subscriptions, however even if owners didn’t get a chance to take advantage of early commitments, they still receive three years of warranty.  

This upgrade, which also saves 200 pounds when the
legacy avionics are removed, is a great option for Excel and XLS
owners. Garmin has been working alongside Textron Aviation on the STC, which will be available at Textron Service Centers and a number of other Garmin dealers. Stay tuned for an in-flight review in the coming months.•T&T

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