Business & GA, Connectivity

Textron President Talks Avionics, Connectivity on Newly Certified Citation Longitude

By Frank Wolfe | October 22, 2019
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Textron Aviation's Citation Longitude jet is on display in Las Vegas at the 2019 NBAA Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (BACE). Photo: Textron Aviation

LAS VEGAS – Textron Aviation is showcasing its newly certified Citation Longitude business jet at this year's annual National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) conference here.

The aircraft's Garmin G5000 avionics features touch-screen control, auto throttles, an enhanced vision system, and an optional Heads Up Display (HUD).

"Avionics, in general, is a rapidly expanding capability," Ron Draper, the president of Textron Aviation and a former U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk pilot, told Avionics International on Oct. 21 at a press event in advance of the NBAA conference. "As these planes are getting more integrated, you have more and more features. The longitude is our fourth airplane with [the Garmin] G5000. We're very happy with the capabilities of that system. There's a lot of innovation going on in that space from piston entry level all the way up. Lots of the avionics OEMs are bringing in lots of technology."

The other three Textron Aviation business jets with the G5000 are the Sovereign+, the Latitude, and the Citation X+, which is no longer in production, according to Textron Aviation.

In terms of future developments in business jet avionics, Draper said that "we're just looking to do more for less."

"It's amazing the technology now on board available to a pilot flying an airplane, from weather to communications, monitoring and controlling systems and cabin comfort," he said. "These airplanes are really flying computers with all the on-board systems and communications from Wi-Fi to Satcom flowing through the avionics."

Faster communications speeds and enhanced network capacity for business jets are also a significant trend.

"The demand for that technology is exploding," Draper said. "10 to 15 years ago, we barely sold airplanes with Wi-Fi, and now it's almost required on every airplane. That technology is rapidly evolving as well."

For example, while the FAA certified the Citation Longitude for 3G connectivity, Textron Aviation is moving toward giving its aircraft Gogo AVANCE 4G network capabilities.

"We have it on a number of models as an aftermarket add-on option," Draper said. "The technology is maybe racing faster than the certification authorities. It's coming soon on the Longitude. It was not certified with that out of the gate, but we're close to rolling that out."

At NBAA on Oct. 22, Textron Aviation said that it has received supplemental type certificate (STC) approval for the Gogo AVANCE L5 4G connectivity system upgrade for its Cessna Citation X+, Citation Sovereign+ and Citation Latitude business jets. The STC expands the company’s Approved Model List (AML) to include eight Citation business jet models, according to Textron Aviation.

With Gogo AVANCE L5 4G connectivity, passengers can take advantage of movie, television and music streaming entertainment, as well as video conferences and meetings, and aircraft crew members can use the service to pull real-time data for cockpit applications, according to Textron Aviation.

Gogo is also developing new antennas and modems designed to enable the world’s first in-flight connectivity 5G air-to-ground (ATG) network by 2021.

The company said that it will continue to operate its existing 3G and 4G ATG networks throughout U.S. and Canadian airspace alongside the future 5G network.

While Gogo is not targeting aviation segments outside of commercial airlines and charter operators for 5G, the company has said that there are military aircraft using Gogo’s ATG technology for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) applications that could use Gogo's future 5G network for that purpose.

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