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Citation Longitude, features, prove true in ‘whirlwind’ around-the-world exploration

Representing the ideal mix of modern design and cutting-edge technology, The Cessna® Citation Longitude® serves as the pinnacle of the Citation® family of products. The aircraft itself is more than just a means of transportation for Mike Shea, an entrepreneur and pilot, who is no stranger to adventure and opportunity. Instead, he sees the Longitude as a trusted aircraft designed and equipped with the necessities for global exploration. Inspired by a lengthy domestic trip, Shea seized the opportunity to experience his jet on an expedition around the world. To his approval, the aircraft and its capabilities surpassed all expectations.

Finding the skies

In his career, Shea mostly saw himself using aviation as a means for business pursuits, creating opportunities and accelerating his schedule thanks to his chosen method of transportation. His love for flying began well before he would find himself in the business landscape, having earned his private pilot’s license at 17 years old. After owning several different Citation® models, Shea took delivery of his Citation Longitude® jet in December of 2020 aiming for more on his missions.

“Now retired and flying for personal pursuits, one of my ambitions for the Longitude was to use it on longer international missions,” Shea detailed.

With several transcontinental journeys in the cockpit and cabin, Shea found himself impressed with the capabilities of his aircraft, yet curious of more possibilities.

“In April of 2021 with Covid still limiting international travel, I put it to the test on a trip home to Thomasville, GA from Maui, HI. That trip took us 3,938nm, non-stop in 8 hours and 15 minutes,” Shea beamed, calling the trip a testament to the Citation Longitude® and its impressive range and speed.

Reiterating his desire for international travel, coupled with the success seen with the Citation Longitude® jet, Shea found the ideal opportunity to live what he calls a pilot’s dream, to fly around the world. Flying 53.5 hours and traveling more than 25,000nm, Shea chronicles how some of the aircraft’s most important features enhanced his mission.

An unmatched cockpit experience, fit for global expedition

Being the only cockpit in its class holding the Garmin® G5000® avionics suite, Shea calls the technology at his fingertips a vital part of his mission.

Along with his full-time pilot Steve Paige, Mike solicited the help of his long-time contract pilot, Manoj Lamba to join the trip and normalize the flying duties required. Additionally, navigating the first leg of the journey from Thomasville, GA to Cape Town South Africa would necessitate 18 flight hours with only three stops for fuel in a 24-hour span. To accomplish this, Mike sought out Ken Kemna, a friend and fellow Citation owner/pilot to round out a second crew. The all-hands approach would allow for a seamless experience for the initial stretch. With an exceptional crew on board, Shea says each being familiar with Garmin® systems helped when navigating the skies.

“Having flown the Latitude for three years before the Longitude, I was comfortable with the G5000. I think the confidence in the avionics and having a true understanding of the aircraft helped us believe in this mission,” he stated.

Like other Citation Longitude® aircraft, the Garmin® G5000® has several features Shea found to be beneficial on this expedition including FANS/CPDLC capabilities, global Iridium information and communication systems and a dual LASEREF Inertial Reference System. To Shea, the cockpit was designed with international travel in mind.

Being able to see and digest weather information was one of the most important features Shea and his crew used on their journey. Another capability that enhanced peace of mind to the team, was around-the-clock access to a dedicated support team of engineers, ready to help if needed. While they did not need to report any issues on their route, they felt supported despite the distance.

“Having the satellite phone on the aircraft and to be able to call Team Longitude if we needed was a great confidence builder for me,” Paige explained. “We didn’t need to, but I know how valuable and responsive this resource is when state side, much less, half a world away!”

When asked about his experience overall in the cockpit, Shea would reiterate his confidence in the Garmin® G5000® and its importance, saying, “I have total confidence when I am in the cockpit and when I’m not, I like knowing that my pilots have the best systems available to work with as well. It is a robust, multifaceted avionics system. It helps make the Longitude the leader of the pack.”

Cabin comfort provides next level experience

For Shea, wanting to test the performance of his aircraft was not limited to range and speed. With an extra emphasis on the cabin during the design of his aircraft, he says he takes pride in a cabin experience designed with passenger comfort in mind.

“I enjoy the cabin just as much as the cockpit,” Shea recalled while reminiscing on the capabilities the Citation Longitude® cabin has to offer. “I like the cabin experience to be at a high level. It is something that we enjoy, and it becomes a home away from home.”

Sporting the best-in-class cabin decibel level, Shea was convinced early on that the Citation Longitude® jet represented an opportunity for ideal comfort. When he wasn’t commanding the aircraft, Shea used the different seat capabilities, and pull-out couch for comfort and rest.

“When I was looking at the Longitude to purchase, the cabin experience made a huge difference, and we were mindful of that. The low decibel level was noticeable, people always tell me how quiet it is. We spent 18 flying hours in it in one day and it was extremely comfortable.”

The low-fatigue cabin paired with the large galley made the hours spent in the air more relaxing. With the ability to store and prepare fresh meals for passengers and crew, Shea reiterates how the high level of luxury is an imperative feature of the jet.

“Instead of being a high occupancy aircraft, we were looking for a homelike experience. I have the things I need for long trips. Custom storage for food, the galley sink and a large countertop to prepare food on. I think anyone who could be looking for a top cabin experience would not be disappointed.”

“I think anyone looking for a top cabin experience would not be disappointed.”Mike Shea

An aircraft built for global reach

Returning home to Thomasville signaled success for Shea and Paige. Keeping with their original schedule, using on-board systems to adjust navigation needs and enjoying the luxury amenities the Citation Longitude® aircraft offers created ideal passage. Having established confidence in aircraft and crew, Shea explains how his feelings toward flight and the aircraft have been reinforced.

“The main thing that stood out would be the reliability of this aircraft, just the idea that you can keep going and going. I hadn’t done that before, personally, so to experience it was unique,” he discussed. “I gained more appreciation for the aircraft; we crossed large spans of oceans and visited very remote places to operate an aircraft. I had the confidence before, now I have the affirmation.”

The team says this trip was a whirlwind that could not have gone better, adding the Citation Longitude® jet performed well beyond their standards. While his next international adventure may not hold the same rigor as this, Shea knows his aircraft is fit for the skies ahead.

“When traveling in the magnificent Citation Longitude® as a passenger or a pilot, there are simply no compromises. It has the speed, the range, and the quiet low-fatigue cabin that make the time literally fly by,” he expounded. “As a pilot, the precision and confidence gained from flying the most advanced flight deck in its class turns challenges into routine. From any perspective, the Citation Longitude® is clearly an aircraft that is truly capable of global reach.”