Citation Jet Pilots Gather for Annual Confab

 - October 22, 2021, 9:34 AM

More than 450 members of the Citation Jet Pilots (CJP) Owner Pilot Association flew to California's Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport (KTRM) this week for the organization's annual meeting in Indian Wells. About 120 Citations landed at KTRM, welcomed by host FBO Desert Jet Center. The conference started on Wednesday and runs through tomorrow.

“We continue to grow with record numbers,” said Trent Corcia, who took over as CEO of CJP on June 1. “We have almost 1,400 members and some 900 Citations listed in our database.”

CJP members travel to the annual event not just to meet friends and learn more from CJP sponsor partners and exhibitors but for the safety sessions that are a hallmark of the association, including companion training for non-pilots flying with Citation owner-pilots. The work put in by members, especially those who received CJP’s Gold Standard Safety Award for recurrent training, is paying off as “we’ve been accident- and incident-free for this year,” said Charlie Precourt, a former Space Shuttle astronaut, Citation owner, and chairman of the CJP Safety Committee.

The rest of the Citation fleet suffered 51 events during the past year, including three fatal accidents. “As a group, we’re safer than the rest of the Citation operators,” he said. “Let’s keep that going. Insurance underwriters notice [that excellent safety record].”

Textron Aviation president and CEO Ron Draper kicked off the CJP conference, highlighting the recent growth in flying by its customers (in turboprops and jets), up 20 percent compared with pre-Covid levels. Draper recently became a Citation pilot, earning his type rating in the CitationJet CJ3+ at the FlightSafety learning center in Wichita.

“It's crazy what a difference a year makes,” he said. "Last year we were slashing production. We had a workforce reduction. We did anticipate at the time that there might be a positive market coming back, but we didn't expect this kind of V-shaped snapback that we saw, and this started in Q4 last year. So about this time a year ago, it started in the used market and it just continued to ramp throughout the year.”

Used aircraft are getting “gobbled up,” Draper said. “So all the charter companies are looking for more lift because they're busting at the seams with the phones ringing [off the hook]. It's been a strong year for the whole industry.”

During the past year, Textron Aviation has introduced upgrades to many products, such as the King Air 260 and 360 and Gen2 versions of the CJ4, M2, and XLS+, and Draper explained that these and other upgrades are part of a new “blended” strategy. The pace of upgrades had slowed because much of the engineering team’s focus was on getting new jets completed, such as the Citation Latitude and Longitude. “We’re trying to refresh existing products on a regular basis while we’re coming out with new products or major upgrades,” Draper said.

The CJP conference continued with its annual Safety Standdown, led by Precourt, as well as with breakout sessions on operations, engines, and avionics for each CitationJet model, as well as the Citation 500 series.