The Most Overlooked Value in the Light Jet Market – Cessna’s Citation Encore+

The mid-light business jet market has evolved tremendously in recent years.  Cessna and Embraer, today’s dominant light jet manufacturers, in the late 2000s introduced models offering state-of-the-art airframe, engine, avionic and maintenance technology.  Without doubt, Cessna’s CJ4 and Embraer’s Phenom 300 are highly compelling, evidenced by their resounding success.  So compelling in fact, the barrier to entry begins in the mid $5 millions for pre-owned models.  Prices for new models approach $10 million.

For operators needing 1,600+ nautical miles of range and the ability to carry up to 9 passengers, but not yet ready to commit new aircraft capital, there is another option – the venerable Citation Encore+.

Encore+ Background

The Citation Encore+ is the fourth generation of Cessna’s highly successful 560 series, originally introduced in 1989, then branded as the Citation V.  Its predecessor, the Citation 550, amassed a loyal following due to its performance, reliability and operating economics.  Yet, as their missions evolved, Citation 550 owners needed more range and extra room for passengers.  As it does, Cessna went to work to build what the market wanted, and the Citation 560 program was born.

Leveraging the design of  its highly successful predecessor, Cessna stretched the Citation V’s cabin by 20 inches and re-engined the airframe with powerful Pratt & Whitney JT15D5A engines.  During its 6-year production run from 1989 to 1994, Cessna delivered 262 Citation Vs.

Advances in avionic technology and a general trend away from traditional round-dial “steam gauge” instruments prompted an update to the 560 airframe.  In 1994, Cessna began deliveries of the Citation V’s successor, the Citation Ultra, equipped with the Honeywell Primus 1000 “glass panel” avionics suite.  Cessna took the opportunity to outfit the airframe with the latest Pratt & Whitney engines.  The JT15D-5Ds increased the Ultra’s normal cruise speed to 419 knots while burning less fuel, ultimately increasing its range to 1,259 nautical miles.  Cessna delivered 279 Citation Ultras between 1994 and 1999.

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The most significant advances to the 560 product line came in 2000, with the introduction of the Citation Encore.  Retaining the attributes that made earlier 560 models so successful, Cessna updated the Encore’s cabin with a more stylish interior, installed new “trailing link” landing gear (for smoother landings) and the latest Pratt & Whitney PW535A engines (still in production on Embraer’s Phenom 300).  Incredibly efficient, the PW535A engines increased the Encore’s NBAA IFR range to 1,667 nautical miles.  Additionally, Cessna modernized the Encore’s anti-ice system with bleed-air in lieu of conventional de-ice “boots”.  You can easily tell an Encore from its predecessors by the polished aluminum on the leading edges of its wings.

From 1999 to 2006 a total of 168 Citation Encores were built.

Deliveries of the final 560 model, the Encore+, began in 2007.  Notable Encore+ upgrades include the advanced ProLine 21 avionics suite and FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control).  FADEC uses digital signals from the throttle quadrant to control power settings.  It reduces pilot workload and increases engine efficiency.

The Encore is easily distinguishable from its predecessors by the polished aluminum wing leading edges.  Single pilot operators appreciate the intuitiveness and lower workload associated with Encore+ FADEC and ProLine 21 avionics.

Why You Should Consider the Citation Encore+


The Encore+ has a maximum NBAA IFR range of 1,677 nautical miles, and is an ideal platform for operators who’s typical missions are between 500 and 1,300 nautical miles.  Its high bypass Pratt & Whitney PW535A engines deliver 3,400 lbs of thrust, rocketing it through the sky at speeds at up to 419 knots while burning between 180 and 198 gallons of fuel per hour.  Traditionally, higher cruise speeds come with the sacrifice of degraded runway performance.  This is not the case with Encore+.  Its tapered wings give the aircraft impressive runway performance.

Notwithstanding CJ4 and Phenom 300 range advantage, the Encore+ measures up to its competitors on virtually every other performance metric.

* NBAA IFR Range (100 NM Alternate)
** Max Take-Off Weight, Sea Level, ISA
*** Max Landing Weight, Sea Level, ISA
Performance information is derived from manufacturer publications and is not necessarily representative of a particular aircraft.  No specific performance representations are being made by the author of this article.

Operating Economics

Accounting for airframe and engine maintenance reserves, fuel costs using the U.S. national average of $4.25 per gallon (burning 198 gallons per hour) and miscellaneous expenses, the cost to operate a Citation Encore is approximately $1,785.50 per hour.

Encore+ Hourly Costs:

  • Fuel: $841.50
  • Airframe Maintenance Reserve: $400.00
  • Engine Maintenance Reserve: $390.00
  • Miscellaneous Trip Expenses: $154.00

(source: Business & Commercial Aviation 2016 Operations Planning Guide and Various Industry Publications)

Due to their modern designs, the CJ4 and Phenom 300 airframes are more efficient.  Advanced maintenance technology offers extended scheduled inspection intervals making the CJ4 and Phenom 300 cheaper to maintain.  Operators can figure around $200 to $300 savings, per hour, to operate the CJ4 and Phenom 300, relative to the Encore+.

Time Tested Airframe. Modern Technology.

Evidenced by the 815 Citation 560 airframes delivered, the design checks virtually every metric on a typical light jet buyer’s wish list.  Thanks to its time tested airframe, modern engines and avionics, the Encore+ can accomplish about 85% of the CJ4 and Phenom 300 in terms of performance and mission capability.  Costing about half the price of popular new mid-light jets, the Encore+ is simply the most comprehensive value on the light jet market.


About the Author:

After many years selling new and pre-owned aircraft, I co-founded Verity Jet Group to help pre-owned jet buyers and sellers navigate the subtleties of aircraft transactions. You can learn more about me here.