by Jerry Siebenmark – February 25, 2021, 1:26 PM
Led by a threesome of former Cessna executives including longtime CEO and current chairman emeritus Russ Meyer Jr., CitationPartners is breathing new life into one of the Wichita airframer’s most popular jets—the Excel—in a new nose-to-tail refurbishment program called Citation Excel Eagle. Engaging the help of Textron Aviation’s Wichita service center and Yingling Aviation, CitationPartners’ goal is to turn out one Excel Eagle a month with new parts, interior, paint, and Garmin G5000 avionics. “Our goal is to do something that really nobody else has done,”
With more than 1,000 Excels, XLSs, and XLS+s in the active fleet, it made sense to select the popular midsize airframe for the program developed by CitationPartners, whose other principals include former Cessna CEO Gary Hay and former Citation Mustang and CJ3 program manager Russ Meyer III. “When you’re buying a preowned airplane, it’s a great asset if it’s still in production because if you need a part for an airplane that’s no longer in production, you’d better be prepared to wait for it and pay a lot of money for it,” Meyer said.
Under the program, CitationPartners will take in one of the many Excels fractional provider NetJets has traded to Textron Aviation, and at the Citation service center, it will undergo numerous inspections—such as a scheduled 15,000-hour fatigue inspection, a special corrosion inspection, and any of the other major inspections that need to be done in the next couple of years. If those inspections turn up any issues, the necessary parts or systems will be replaced. Once that work is complete, the airplane will be moved across the runway at Wichita Eisenhower National Airport to Yingling, where the airframe will be stripped, the interior replaced, and the G5000 avionics installed.
“So when the airplane is finished, it will look exactly like an airplane that’s come out of [Textron Aviation’s] production facility,” Meyer said.
Because of the extensive refurbishment and inspections, Excel Eagles will also be put on airframe, engine, avionics, and APU support programs through Textron Aviation’s Citation ProParts and Citation PowerAdvantage Engine Programs with no buy-in. Hay said for an Excel operator to do to their airplane what the Excel Eagle program does would cost $200,000 to $300,000 more. “Our airplane is absolutely turnkey,” Hay explained. “You buy it. You come in and fly it away. You don’t have to do anything except that.”
In all, Meyer hopes to eventually turn over one Excel a month. Three jets are currently undergoing the transformation to Excel Eagles with the first one slated for completion in April followed by the other two in May and June. Introductory pricing on the first three Excels will be $3.45 million as well as for orders taken by March 31. After that, the price increases to $3.59 million.