It’s hard to believe that just over 100 years ago, flying was just a pipe dream. We’ve come a long way and now aviation has a part to play in many industries and has become its own segment of the aerospace industry. “Business aviation” refers to any aircraft that are used in furtherance of a business. According to the National Business Aviation Association, business aviation contributes approximately $150 billion to economic output and employs at least 1.2 million people (NBAA.org). While only about 3% of the 15,000 registered business aircraft are flown by Fortune 500 companies, the rest belong to varying sizes of for-profit and not-for-profit companies all over the United States – this includes universities, local and federal government, and other businesses.
Arguably, the future of aviation is business aviation and Globalair.com has their top ten picks for business aircraft backed up by several years of experience in aircraft sales.
#10: Gulfstream 550 (G550)
If there is one company that evokes luxury in their aircraft, Gulfstream Aerospace has to be it. The sleek frame of the G550 cuts through the air at 0.80 Mach using two Rolls-Royce BR710 engines with a max cruising altitude at 51,000 feet. This luxury jet can be configured up to 19 passengers and sleeps 8 comfortably. If you’re looking to escape the cares of everyday life easily, or reach your international group in England, the G550 has a range of almost 7,000 nautical miles (nm).
While it boasts a comfortable ride for passengers (a cabin over 40 feet long), pilots aren’t soon forgotten with the state of the art PlaneView™ flight deck featuring some of the most advanced avionics known in existence. The flight deck features four liquid crystal displays for your flight crew with easy software upgrades making it compatible to your flight department, no matter how big or small. Additionally, a Head-Up Display (HUD) is included in the G550 that projects flight data in the pilot’s forward-looking field of vision. In times of reduced or obscured vision, such as inclement weather, the Enhanced Vision System (EVS) uses infrared technology to capture what the pilot cannot see – runway markings, taxiways, and other terrain are now visible in poor weather conditions.
According to the NBAA, the G550 has the reliability of 99.9% -- this means out of five years of service, you will only miss one trip (Gulfstream.com). In a world where time equals money, this is a statistic to get behind.
#9: Gulfstream 200 (G200)
The little brother to the G550, the G200 had its first flight on Christmas Day in 1997 and was later released in 1999. While Gulfstream no longer produces the G200, it doesn’t keep it from being a popular used aircraft. It was originally named the “Astra Galaxy”.
Like most Gulfstream aircraft, the G200 boasts a large cabin size that can hold to 18 passengers, but typically configured for 8-10 passengers. Unlike the Rolls-Royce engines, the G200 runs on two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306A turbofans producing a maximum cruise spend at 0.80 Mach, similar to the G550. While it has approximately the same cruising speed, the G200 has almost half the range at 3,400 nm at 45,000 feet which makes it a perfect aircraft for domestic flights here in the U.S.
From this description, the G200 can be seen not only as a predecessor to the G550, but the smaller, less expensive version of the G550. The G200 is an excellent aircraft for a business that does mostly domestic flights.
#8: Hawker 4000
Taking a break from the Gulfstream family, the Hawker 4000 hails from Beechcraft which is owned by Textron Aviation – the parent company to Cessna and others. Produced from 2011 to 2013, the Hawker 4000 was quickly realized as the top jet product by Beechcraft.
A worthy competitor to the G200 as well as slightly newer, it can seat up to ten people (14 maximum) and has average of 6 feet of standing room in the interior cabin. It cruises at 45,000 feet with a range of 3,445 nm and 870 km/hr. A common identifier of the Hawker 4000 is the hawk profile painted in tan on the tail section.
If you’re currently in the G200 as an airframe, a newer and comparable version would be the Hawker 4000.
#7: Hawker 800XPi
A predecessor to the Hawker 400 is the Hawker 800 which was first produced in the early 1980s. A later version of the Hawker 800 was the XP and XPi which was most notable by the addition of winglets.
Like the previously mentioned aircraft, the 800XPi is similar in size when it comes to passenger capacity and length. The maximum speed in cruise is 745 km/hr while its range is the shortest out of the group at just under 2,000 nm and has a service ceiling at 41,000 feet. However, it’s rate of climb is nothing to sneeze at – 1,948.8 feet/minute!
#6: Citation Sovereign
We now switch gears back to the Textron company to that of Cessna and the Citation Sovereign. This particular aircraft is classified as a mid-size business jet and at the time of its introduction in 2004, the third largest in the Citation line (weight-wise).
A unique feature of the Sovereign is its ability to take off and land in short distances which is unusual in a business jet. For corporations and private companies, this becomes a valuable feature for plants and factories situated in small towns with short runways. Not only does the Sovereign get you there fast (848 km/hour), but it also is considered a transcontinental aircraft with a range of over 3,000 nm.
#5: Falcon 2000
In our plethora of business aircraft manufacturers, we come to Falcon (birds of prey do make good names). Dassault Aviation is a French aircraft manufacturer that can be seen as a fairly healthy competitor to Textron’s companies as well as Gulfstream. Probably the most notable of the Falcon line are the aircraft that have three engines, however, the 2000 is the one of the older models in the line with just two engines.
Like other aircraft in its class, the 2000 has comparable speed as well as range which is 3,000 nm. The impressive thing about the 2000 is its ability to climb to 37,000 feet in just nineteen minutes – that’s just over 1,900 feet/minute!
#4: Challenger 605
We’ve finally come to our last brand name in jets (although not our last pick) which is that of Challenger. It’s one of the few non-American manufactures and actually is produced by Canadair which you might recognize as the manufacturer of the Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ). Coincidentally, Canadair is an independent company that is also a division of Bombardier Aerospace – famous for its Bombardier Business Jets, or BBJs, among others.
The Challenger 605 is the fourth aircraft in the 600 series which dates back to the late 1970s. The 605 was introduced in 2006 as an upgrade to the 604. Some new features included larger cabin windows, updated Rockwell Collins instrumentation and the capability of holding an “electronic flight bag”. The most distinct visual feature is the rounded tailcone.
The 605 is comparable in size to the previously discussed aircraft, but is one of the fastest at 870 km/hour and a range close to 4,000 nm.
#3: Challenger 300
The Challenger 300, at first glance, can easily be confused with the Challenger 600 series which is not the case. Unlike the 600 series, the 300 is recognized as a Bombardier (parent company of Canadair).
It entered commercial service in early 2004 and is considered a super-mid-size jet. This basically means it’s very comparable to all the other aircraft discussed, but has greater range capability. The 300 has a range of approximately 5,700 km and caps out at 45,000 feet.
#2: Gulfstream IV-SP (GIV-SP)
We’re back in the Gulfstream family (popular for a very good reason)! The GIV-SP is very comparable to other Gulfstream products, but represents the fine-tuning that the Savannah-based company did to improve their product line.
For instance, Honeywell advanced flight deck displays, electrical power generation, cabin temperature control and pressurization were added to this particular model. Additionally, improved Automatic Power Unit (APU), flap system, redesigned landing gears, and other systems were improved in this particular model.
#1: Gulfstream 650 (G650)
Quite possibly my favorite Gulfstream is that of the G650. Sleek, shiny, and the largest of the Gulfstream family, this aircraft has the ability to take you just about anywhere. True to the company’s tagline for this aircraft, “Farther faster, first of its kind,” the G650 more than lives up to its standard.
It has done just that with a maximum range of 7,000 miles (you read that right), and an operating speed of 0.925 Mach. It also has the heaviest takeoff weight at almost 100,000 pounds (that’s a lot of golf clubs, or fuel).
Besides the G650 being visually stunning, the wingspan is the most noticeable at approximately 100 feet which is nearly as long as the aircraft itself. It also features the most advanced avionics developed by Gulfstream – the PlaneView™ II flight deck. Like the G550, it has four displays with the EVS, HUD, Synthetic Vision as well as fly-by-wire technology which is computer-controlled and highly redundant – this is advanced as the technology gets.
A Clear Winner?
While Globair.com has their favorite picks which have proven to be popular among used aircraft owners, be sure to do your research when it comes picking the business jet that works for your company. Remember to read our tips about purchasing an aircraft – while focused on single-engine aircraft, there are some excellent tips to consider. However, you might want to consider going to a jet broker when it comes to your business needs.
Hopefully you now have a better idea of the common business aircraft on the market – just remember to save your pennies as these sleek, used aircraft run anywhere from $6.4 to $52.9 million!
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