In January 1972, Cessna Aircraft Company delivered its first Citation business jet, the first ever to be designed and certified for single-pilot operations. Following the delivery of the Cessna Citation 500 to American Airlines, Cessna would go on to deliver 52 jets that year, making it the industry’s biggest seller.
The publicized launch retail price at the time was $695,000, which included factory-installed avionics, ground and flight training and a one-year computerized maintenance tracking program. By the time the first Citation was delivered, Cessna had spent approximately $35 million on the project — 40 percent of the company’s net assets.
Bruce Peterman, the Citation’s chief engineer at the time, was quoted, “Everyone thought we were off our rocker when we came up with that plane. But we just kept producing the airplane and making it better until we wound up with the majority of the market.”
Departing from the company’s habit of giving its planes numerical nomenclatures, the aircraft was named “Citation” after the racehorse that won the Triple Crown in 1948. The company’s marketing drew parallels between the famous thoroughbred and the business jet’s performance, flexibility, handling efficiency and appearance. One of the aircraft’s first fans was California Governor Ronald Reagan, who leased a Citation for official use after a rash of hijackings raised safety concerns.
Fast forward to 2017, the Citation has grown into a family of business jets, which continue to lead the light and midsize markets. More than 7,000 Citations have been delivered and the worldwide fleet has amassed nearly 35 million flight hours. Currently, there are eight Citation models in production (Mustang, M2, CJ3+, CJ4, XLS+, Latitude, Sovereign+ and Citation X+) with two under development (Longitude and Hemisphere).
“This milestone marking 45 years of industry leadership is really a celebration of the thousands of people through the years – customers and employees – who have made the Citation line of business jets the world leader,” said Kriya Shortt, Textron Aviation’s senior vice president, sales