For more than a half-century, Chicago Ideas’ partner NetJets has led the private aviation industry, and as a multitude of startups and competitors have come and gone, NetJets has thrived with a steady focus on innovation at the forefront. Today, they continue their momentum with the addition of a new aircraft, created in partnership with leading aircraft manufacturer Textron Aviation. Join us as Pat Gallagher, President of Sales & Marketing at NetJets, offers us a closer look at how the worldwide leader has innovated in the past—and shares the most exciting new aviation innovation in years.
Chicago Ideas (CI): How has NetJets innovated over the past 55 years?
NetJets (NJ): We are proud to say that in 1964, we were the first private jet charter and management company. In 1986, our leaders pioneered the revolutionary concept of shared ownership, twice creating a new segment within the general aviation market. Over the years, we have built the largest, most diverse private fleet in the world—approximately 750 aircraft)—with a majority of our aircraft containing the latest in cutting-edge avionics, inflight technology, and comfort amenities.
Today, we leverage insights gained from over a half-century of perfecting private jet travel and apply that knowledge to create even smarter technologies and innovative solutions. One example that we use every day is IntelliJet® II, our proprietary reservation and flight-tracking system. We also have the Waypoint app that keeps our flight operations and pilots in constant communication, assuring the pilots have the most up-to-date flight information and customer preferences, without fail. To guide our crew scheduling, we monitor and analyze crewmember alertness based on circadian rhythms, sleep and travel patterns, and other variables.
We download terabytes of data off our planes every month from their flight data recorders and analyze everything from approach speeds and angle to rates of decent and climb, then use this information to improve our safety margins and enhance our training programs. This kind of innovative technology allows us to concentrate on the safety of our customers and crewmembers at all times.
CI: How is NetJets partnering with Textron Aviation?
NJ: We are thrilled to be deepening our long-term partnership with Textron Aviation with an amazing, new aircraft—the Cessna Citation Longitude. Our partnership with Textron Aviation began more than 30 years ago when we began offering the industry-leading Citation SII. Since then, we have owned and operated nearly 500 Citations, including the Citation Latitude, Citation Sovereign, and Citation XLS. Building on the overwhelming popularity and historical success of these programs, our new agreement will give us the ability to add up to 175 super-midsize Citation Longitude aircraft to our fleet, as well as up to 150 of the new large cabin Citation Hemisphere® to our fleet. And we could not be happier. We forecast delivery of our first Citation Longitude in the second half of 2019, with more to come in the next 10 to 15 years.
CI: What can you tell us about the design of the new Citation Longitude?
NJ: Textron’s newest plane was designed by the experts at Cessna and was meticulously customized with feedback from our Owners and crewmembers. We believe this collaboration will result in an incredible, new aircraft guaranteed to meet the highest safety and performance standards consistent with our Owners’ expectations.
As for the cabin, we’re proud to report that this super-midsize aircraft will boast a spacious 30 inches of legroom (at least 11% more legroom than other aircraft in its category); expansive windows; and a six-foot-tall, flat-floor cabin that makes flying for both business and leisure an elevated travel experience. Best of all, the Longitude is already renowned for having the quietest cabin in its class. In fact, acoustic engineers reduced dozens of noise sources throughout the cabin to make the sound—or lack thereof—on par with aircraft that cost more than twice as much.
CI: Can you explain the avionics of the Citation Longitude?
NJ: This new, luxury, super-midsize aircraft has the range and speed to take our Owners coast to coast or to Hawaii with ease. But the cockpit of the Citation Longitude is where innovation and efficiency perfectly come together. NetJets pilots will always feel in control with dual touch-screen navigation controls and the next-generation Garmin G5000 flight deck. The crew can leverage the fully integrated autothrottles, which reduce the pilots’ task load and allow them to focus on other aspects of the flight. The Garmin synthetic vision system (SVT) allows pilots to have a 3D perspective of the aircraft in relation to any obstacles, increasing pilots’ situational awareness. The Longitude is also equipped with LinxUs, an industry-leading system that provides real-time diagnostics. This means less downtime for the Longitude and more access for our Owners.
CI: How is the Citation Longitude being built?
NJ: From the ultra-quiet cabin and flat floor to the cockpit that is built for efficiency and comfort, the design of the Longitude demonstrates a clear understanding of our Owner’s feedback, combined with innovation. In fact, the build process itself is innovative. First of all, it was led by experienced engineers, trained craftsmen, and artisans who have spent years honing their trades. That solid expertise, care, and skill offered innovative solutions like building the Longitude with fewer parts—a ten-to-one reduction when compared with other private jets. This will allow for easier service inspections and lower operating costs. The Longitude has maximum advantages for a super-midsize jet, advantages that can only come from two giants in aviation leveraging each other’s strengths and willingness to innovate. This is why we are completely confident that every journey on the Longitude is one our Owners will never forget.