Developed by the Cessna Aircraft Company in Wichita, Kansas, the Citation Ultra is an incredibly popular and high performance light private jet aircraft. The Ultra was an update of the very successful Citation V design, with its production beginning in 1994 and running through to 2000. Few private jets in its class can compare in terms of cabin dimensions, speed, takeoff distance and other performance considerations.
The cabin can comfortably hold up to eight passengers, and stretches to over seventeen feet – the longest cabin of any light executive jet. Passengers enjoy individual flat panel entertainment systems, a mini galley and an enclosed lavatory. The Ultra also has storage space for 26 cubic feet of baggage, or about six hundred pounds worth of golf bags, suitcases or other cargo.
One of the main performance features of the Ultra is its extraordinarily short takeoff distance. The Citation Ultra can complete a takeoff in just 3,200 feet when loaded to its maximum takeoff weight of 16,300 pounds, making the aircraft perfect for short runways at high altitudes. The Citation Ultra holds 5816 pounds of fuel, and will transport passengers comfortably and quietly just over 2,255 miles, the equivalent of a flight from Palm Springs, CA to Chicago, IL.
The Ultra is also fast, with a maximum cruise speed of 429 knots. Its speed can primarily be attributed to its wing design. Created in partnership between Cessna and aerodynamicists at NASA, the Ultra utilizes the fastest straight wing design the Citation line of jets has ever seen. The resulting wing has a large leading-edge radius and a level upper surface which better distributes air flow and cuts drag.
The other major contributors to the Ultra’s high speed are the Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D-5D turbofan engines that provide its power. The innovative engine design cut down on air leaks, resulting in better aerodynamic efficiency. Each engine provides the Ultra with 3,045 pounds of thrust, enabling the aircraft to climb at an initial rate from sea level of 4,100 feet per minute, reaching a maximum cruising altitude of 45,000 feet. The engines produce the bleed air to support all of the Ultra’s systems – cabin pressurization, air conditioning and advanced anti-icing capabilities.
Following the maxim in avionics systems that simplicity is best, the engineers of the Honeywell Primus 1000 suite realized the importance of details like consolidating multiple displays into a few, easy-to-interpret ones and placing screens close to the controls to which they apply. The predecessor of the Ultra had a confusing array of five screens and nine analog controls. The Ultra consolidated this jumbled layout to four sleek screens, resulting in an aircraft far easier to fly.
The response from the aviation community upon the release of the Ultra was immediate, with the aircraft being named Flying magazine’s “Best Business Jet” of 1994. The exceptionally popular Citation Ultra is the perfect aircraft when considering hourly cost, capability, speed, range, takeoff, climb and landing performance, and of course the all important consideration of comfort. It is no wonder why the Citation Ultra is one of the most popular business aircraft ever built.