The Citation XLS is technically a mid-sized jet – its cabin length is 18.7 feet and it can fly up to 1,961 miles (1,704 nautical miles); however, it can also take off in 3,500 feet and climb to cruise altitude in just 18 minutes, performance statistics reminiscent of light private jets. At any rate, the XLS boasts excellent handling capabilities, reliable systems, and consistent delivery of smooth, quick flights. The XLS is the updated version of the Citation Excel and goes faster and further than its predecessor. The 5.7 feet high interior of the XLS holds nine passengers in a cabin that’s quiet and draft-free, due to the triple-sealed entry door and triple-pane windows. Details like fold-out tables, sliding headrests, and seats two to four inches wider than in previous models make flying comfortable. A couch (rated to takeoff/landing safety standards) comes standard. Indirect LED lighting is installed to give the cabin a roomier, more natural feel and comes with the benefits of producing less heat and lasting longer. An external compartment provides 80 cubic feet of storage space, along with some additional space in an internal closet.
This private jet can climb to its flight level of 43,000 feet in just twenty five minutes (48 minutes faster than the Excel) and can cruise at 428 ktas. The XLS can reach a range of 1,941 miles (1,687 nautical miles) with four passengers. It can take off on runways as short as 3,500 feet – the shortest takeoff distance of any midsized jet.
The XLS outperforms competing private jets due largely to its two Pratt & Whitney PW545B engines. They are designed with a high-pressure core to increase thrust to 3,975 pounds apiece (4.5 percent more thrust than the engines used in the Citation Excel). Additional air flow through the engine’s core allows the engines to operate at higher temperatures. A Teflon seal was added to prevent oil leaks, and the single-channel electronic control engine allows the pilot to configure fuel flow at the beginning of flight and leave the system to do the rest during flight. Manual fuel control remains available for emergencies. These engines can reach .80 Mach uninstalled and have a specific fuel consumption of just 0.709 pounds per hour.
The Citation XLS comes standard with two air conditioning systems to ensure that the cabin remains comfortable, even in the most extreme outside temperatures. A long-travel trailing link landing gear ensures smooth landings and taxiing. High-capacity carbon brakes give this jet powerful braking capabilities that other private jets of its size do not have. The brake wear is minimal and, like all other systems in the XLS, is extremely reliable.
Subtle design details illustrate Cessna’s custom of creating simple, high-performance jets. The frame is made from riveted, hot-bonded aluminum alloy, which reduces assembly cost and slightly increases drag. This is more than made-up for by the unusually low position of the wing, which greatly reduces drag.
The Citation XLS was designed with the needs of the pilot in mind. The preflight check is easy to carry out; a surface seal on the windshield repels rain; and many flight systems only have to be set once after takeoff, then automatically adjust in flight.
The avionics system is probably the most pilot-friendly feature of the XLS. The engineers of the Honeywell Primus 1000 avionics 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. All of the information needed in the XLS is consolidated into three sleek screens. The relevant controls are located directly on the screens’ faceplates to improve pilot hand-eye coordination and flight performance. An automatic emergency descent mode system is included, a new addition to the avionics systems of private jets.
Its comfort, performance and reliability match Cessna’s high standards in private jet travel.