Thomas W. Mitchell

Types of Private Jets: The Complete Guide

Thomas W. Mitchell
Thomas W. Mitchell Executive Vice President
image of a white embraer 505 phenom 300 aerojet flying through a cloudy grey sky background

If you’ve entered the world of private aviation, you already know there is an incredibly wide range of aircraft to choose from. Whether you’re considering the merits of different manufacturers and models or attempting to choose between varying specifications such as performance, size or cabin amenities, the options can seem overwhelming.

What follows is a high level categorical breakdown of the types of private aircraft to guide you in making a more informed decision when purchasing or chartering a private jet.

Very Light Jet

The Federal Aviation Administration defines very light jets as having a maximum take-off weight of less than 12,500 pounds. The business aircraft industry often characterizes very light jets as providing comfortable seating for a maximum of four (4) passengers with full fuel and a usual range of 1,000+/- nm or less. Very light jets are popular with owners who are also licensed pilots and wish to fly their own aircraft. Most very light jet models in the skies today were introduced to the business aircraft market fairly recently.

Very light jets are especially popular for their relatively lower acquisition and operating costs. They are often the go-to choice for owners or operators who regularly travel within a limited geographical range with relatively few passengers. These aircraft stand out for their efficiency — they can be stored in small hangars, are known for their fuel efficiency and can fly at speeds and altitudes that exceed turboprop and piston model aircraft. Also, since they are fairly new to the market, the cockpits in very light jets generally feature newer technology.

The most popular very light jet models on today’s market are as follows:

*Data Source – Conklin & de Decker – Actual current pricing may vary

Manufacturer Model Passenger Capacity Range (nm) with Avg Passengers and Fuel Speed (kts) Cost to Acquire (New)
Cirrus SF 50 Vision G2 3 < 1,000 315 $3.3M
Cessna M2 Gen2 7 < 1,000 404 $6.1M
Embraer Phenom 100EV 5 < 1,000 406 $4.5M
Eclipse 500 3 < 600 371 $1.2M
Honda Elite 5 < 600 413 $5.8M

Light Jets

In addition to being physically larger than very light jets, light jets offer longer range and greater passenger and baggage capacity. Unlike very light jets, light jets have been available and popular for a long period of time. As a result, they are more widely available on the pre-owned market.

Besides having greater range and physical size than very light jets, the capital costs and operating costs of light jets remain attractive to many small or medium-size corporations, especially those with required destinations of 1,500 nm or less. Similar to very light jets, light jets can effectively meet both the business and personal travel needs of those who frequently make short-haul flights. Many light jets are also certified for single pilot operation, which is attractive to owners who fly themselves or wish to be a co-pilot.

Some of the most popular light jet models include:

Manufacturer Model Passenger Capacity Range (nm) With Avg Passengers and Fuel Speed (kts) Cost to Acquire (New)
Embraer Phenom 300E 6 1,811 464 $10.3M
Pilatus PC 24 6 1,525 440 $12.2M
Cessna CJ3+ 6 1,410 415 $10.4M
Cessna CJ4 Gen2 8 1,667 454 $11.8M

*Data Source – Conklin & de Decker – Actual current pricing may vary

Mid-size Jets

As their name implies, mid-size jets are larger and have a greater range than light or very light jets. Their floorplans and amenities are especially designed for greater comfort, with larger seats and additional headroom. Due to their operating and maintenance needs, mid-size jet aircraft typically warrant professional aviation services, such as a dedicated flight department or a full-service aircraft management company.

Certain mid-size jets boast non-stop coast-to-coast range without a fuel stop, which sets them apart from the range limitations of lighter jets. The cabin of a mid-size jet is more suitable and comfortable for longer-range business or personal travel and may include amenities such as a dedicated lavatory, dining table, a partial galley and additional cabin height.

Popular mid-size jet models on the market include the following:

Manufacturer Model Passenger Capacity Range (nm) With Avg Passengers and Fuel Speed (kts) Cost to Acquire (New)
Embraer Praetor 500 7 3,109 466 $18M
Cessna Citation Latitude 9 2,455 429 $19.7M
Bombardier Challenger 3500 9 3,277 470 $22M
Gulfstream G280 8 3,385 482 $24.5M

*Data Source – Conklin & de Decker – Actual current pricing may vary

Large Cabin Aircraft

Besides being of greater overall size, large cabin aircraft generally have even longer available range than mid-size jets, as well as significantly enhanced cabin amenities. In terms of both comfort and capability, large cabin aircraft are better suited for certain international travel destinations than smaller aircraft.

Almost every model of large cabin aircraft can fly coast-to-coast in the U.S. — and, in some cases, from the U.S. to Europe — without a fuel stop. With longer flight durations come elevated amenities such as separate and dedicated cabin seating zones, entertainment systems with larger displays, a full-service lavatory (perhaps two), a fully functional galley, the option for worldwide internet capabilities and a more formal conference/dining table arrangement.

The following are some of the most common large cabin aircraft in the skies today:

Manufacturer Model Passenger Capacity Range (nm) With Avg Passengers and Fuel Speed (kts) Cost to Acquire (New)
Embraer Praetor 600 8 3,745 466 $21.5M
Gulfstream G450 13 4,070 500 $23.5M
Bombardier Challenger 650 10 3,756 488 $33M
Gulfstream 550 18 6,583 488 Pre-owned Only
Bombardier Global 5500 12 5,934 511 $47.5M
Gulfstream G500 13 5,067 516 $49.5M
Dassault 2000 LXS 8 3,803 478 $36M

*Data Source – Conklin & de Decker – Actual current pricing may vary

Ultra Long-range Aircraft

Separate from including privately appointed Boeing and Airbus aircraft, ultra long-range aircraft are generally top-of-the-line private aircraft offered by only a few select manufacturers. Part of the reason for this is that ultra long-range aircraft come with very specific design specifications, which few manufacturers are able to accommodate, and must undergo a series of certifications. Physically, these are greater in size than large cabin aircraft, mainly due to larger wings capable of storing the necessary amount of fuel for ultra-long distances. They also incorporate a dedicated crew rest area, which enables adding crew members to serve longer non-stop flights.

Ultra long-range aircraft models are often recently designed and manufactured, featuring the latest technology and passenger amenities. Their larger cabin size can accommodate as many as four separate seating zones — with some designed for sleeping — as well as fully accessorized forward and aft lavatories that may offer a shower option.

Remarkably, by design, some ultra long-range aircraft can still deliver on performance characteristics found in smaller business aircraft, such as the ability to access airports with shorter runways. Also, the operating costs for shorter trips of some ultra long-range aircraft are comparable to those of smaller business aircraft. Ultra long-range aircraft can not only save time by avoiding fuel stops but, when necessary, allow flight planning that avoids flying over certain parts of the world considered higher risk.

The following currently produced models are some of the most popular choices for ultra long-range jets:

Manufacturer Model Passenger Capacity Range (nm) With Avg Passengers and Fuel Speed (kts) Cost to acquire (New)
Gulfstream 650ER 13 6,985 516 $70.5M
Bombardier Global 6500 14 6,563 505 $58M
Gulfstream G600 13 6,310 516 $59.5M
Bombardier Global 7500 16 7,474 521 $81M
Gulfstream G700 13 7,150 516 $78M
Dassault Falcon 8X 12 6,290 492 $63.8M

*Data Source – Conklin & de Decker – Actual current pricing may vary

Which Private Jet Model Is Best for Your Needs?

Of course, your specific reasons for acquiring a private jet will determine the type of aircraft you choose. But deciding on an aircraft is not just about physical or cosmetic factors — you should take travel requirements, budget, planned usage and more into careful consideration when weighing your options.

To help you plan your acquisition, we recommend consulting our comprehensive eBook on the topic. Download your own copy below and, when you’re ready to talk specifics, reach out to the Essex team to take the next step.

Essex_eBook_Private Aircraft Acquisition & Ownership Considerations

Are You Ready to Become the Proud Owner of Your Very Own Business Jet?

The decision whether to purchase a private aircraft is likely one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in your life. In order to ensure that you’re fully prepared to make that decision — and to ensure that you get the greatest return on your investment — it’s important that you be aware of everything that actually goes into acquiring, owning and operating your own plane.