Cessna 560XL Citation Excel business jet used by the Swiss Air Force
Raytheon Hawker 800 business jet (previously known as the D.H.125, then H.S.125, then British Aerospace 125)
Bombardier Global Express business jet
Business jet, private jet or, in slang, bizjet is a term describing a jet aircraft, usually of modest size, designed for transporting small groups of business people for commercial reasons at a time convenient to their business needs. Some business jets may be adapted for other roles, such as the evacuation of casualties or express parcel deliveries, and a few may be used by public bodies, governments or the armed forces. The more formal terms of corporate jet, executive jet, VIP transport or business jet tend to be used by the firms that build, sell, buy and charter these aircraft. The allied term “bizprop” is in use amongst enthusiasts to refer to turboprop-powered aircraft used in similar roles but seems unlikely to spread.
The older term “air taxi” tends to be used for piston-engined or small turboprop aircraft, although the functions of an air taxi and a business jet are essentially identical; in fact, some airfields have runways unsuited to jet operations and may therefore be more usable by slower aircraft. Depending on the passengers’ destination, the overall journey time could then be shorter with a slower aircraft. Generally, jets tend to have a taller passenger cabin and more advanced avionics, which may be advantageous in terms of safety, comfort and resilience to extreme weather conditions. A company may also wish to project its status through the type of aircraft in which its personnel travel.
Almost all production business jets, such as Grumman Aerospace’s famous Gulfstream and the Gates Lear Jet (now built by Bombardier), have had two or three engines, though the Jetstar, an early business jet, had four. Advances in engine efficiency and power have rendered four-engine designs obsolete, and only Dassault Aviation still builds three-engine models (in the Falcon line). The emerging market for so-called “very light jets” and “personal jets” has seen the introduction (at least on paper) of several single-engine designs as well.
Surplus airliners are sometimes converted into luxury business jets. Such converted aircraft are often used by celebrities with a large entourage or press corps, or by sports teams, but airliners often face operational restrictions based on runway length or local noise restrictions.
Since 1996 the term “fractional ownership” has been used in connection with business aircraft owned by a consortium of companies. Costly overheads such as flight crew, hangarage and maintenance can be shared through such arrangements.
A focus of development is at the low end of the market with small models, many far cheaper than existing business jets. Many of these fall into the very light jet (VLJ) category. Of the existing manufacturers, Cessna is developing the Mustang, a six-place twinjet (2 crew + 4 passengers) planned to be available for $2.55 million (US) at the end of 2006. A number of smaller manufacturers are planning even cheaper jets; for example, Eclipse Aviation is flying a prototype of its Eclipse 500 which is projected to be available in 2006 for around $1.3 million (US). It remains to be seen whether the new jet manufacturers will complete their designs, or find the market required to sell their jets at the comparatively low prices planned.
“Traditional” business jets
- Airbus A319 Corporate Jet or ACJ ($35 million)
- Boeing 737 Business Jet (about $32 million)
- Bombardier Challenger and GlobalExpress (various costs)
- Dassault Falcon family (models 10, 20, 50, 900, 2000, at various costs)
- Avcraft Dornier 328 Envoy ($12-30 million)
- EMBRAER 135 Legacy ($20 million)
- General Dynamics (formerly Grumman) Gulfstream II, III, IV, V (various costs)
- Lear Jet ($3 to 15 million)
- Lockheed JetStar
- North American Sabreliner
- Cessna Citation (various costs)
- Raytheon Hawker 800 (various costs)
- Raytheon Premier I
Very light jets
- Eclipse Aviation Eclipse 500 ($1-2 million)
- Adam Aircraft Industries A700 (approx $1.3 million)