Cessna CJ3 | Article


CJ3 Private JetCessna’s CJ (Citation Jet) series, comprised of light, no-frills business jets that meet the same standards of performance as their heavy, expensive competitors, has been particularly successful in the private jet market. The CJ3 continues Cessna’s tradition of great business jets with 1,760 nautical miles of range, cruise speeds up to 415 ktas, low operating costs, and a price tag of $7 million. The only other business jet currently in production that competes with the CJ3’s performance standards at a comparable price of $7.2 million is the Hawker 400XP.

The interior measurements of the Hawker 400XP and the CJ3 are virtually identical: the CJ3 has two extra inches in length and the Hawker 400XP has an extra inch in width. The CJ3 can seat 6 to 8 passengers and fit 69 cubic feet of baggage; the Hawker 400XP can seat 7 to 9 and accommodate 53 cubic feet of luggage.

The CJ3 sports FJ44-3A engines, a model which has become ubiquitous among midsized business jets. The Williams International FJ44s are flat rated to 2,820 pounds of thrust apiece, notably less than the 3,600 pounds that the Hawker 400XP’s Pratt and Whitney FJ15D-5R engines can produce. The FJ44-3As have an inspection interval of 4,000 hours, a full 400 hours’ advantage over the JT15D-5R’s inspections interval of 3,600 hours.

Although the Hawker 400XP’s engines are more powerful than those of the CJ3, they can’t sufficiently compensate for the Hawker 400XP’s maximum takeoff weight of 16,300 pounds — roughly 2,400 pounds more than the CJ3’s MTOW. On a sea level runway, the CJ3 requires 3,180 feet of runway to take off, 726 feet less than the Hawker 400XP. At an altitude of 5,000 feet, the CJ3’s runway requirements increase to 4,750 feet and the Hawker 400XP’s requirements increase to 6,130 feet. Once in the air, the CJ3 can reach an altitude of 37,000 feet in 15 minutes – three minutes less than it takes the Hawker 400XP to reach the same altitude.

One of the CJ3’s greatest attributes is its range. NBAA IFR range for this private jet is 1,761 nautical miles, a far cry from the 1,175 nautical mile range of the Hawker 400XP. The Hawker 400XP may not be able to fly as far, but it can reach its destinations faster. Long range cruise for the CJ3 and Hawker 400XP is 351 ktas and 414 ktas, respectively, and high speed cruise is 415 ktas and 450 ktas. Although the Hawker 400XP can be flown significantly faster than the CJ3, it costs more to do so. Estimated fuel burn for a normal trip is 173 gallons per hour for the CJ3 and 191 gallons per hour for the Hawker 400XP.

Range-to-payload capability is another of the CJ3’s strong points. When loaded with maximum payload and available fuel, the CJ3 can fly 1,174 nautical miles. The Hawker 400XP can fly only 750 nautical miles under the same conditions.

When range is held constant at 1,000 nautical miles and payload is limited to four passengers, the comparison evens out somewhat. The CJ3 would easily beat the Hawker 400XP on runway performance by taking off in 2,754 feet, 835 feet less than the Hawker 400XP. The Hawker 400XP would reach its destination in 2 hours and 24 minutes, 13 minutes ahead of the CJ3. Not surprisingly, the CJ3 would burn 2,313 pounds of fuel, well under the CJ3’s fuel burn of 2,769 pounds.

By now, the differences in the two jets should be readily apparent: the CJ3 is slower and less luxurious than the Hawker 400XP, but has much better range-to-payload capabilities and great runway performance. The CJ3’s combination of high performance and low cost speaks for itself, but the more than 500 Hawker 400XP aircraft sold since its entrance into service in 1990 speak just as loudly.