If you're a wealthy CEO with extra money to spend on air travel, the aviation industry has a large selection of private jets just for you. Imagine the convenience of getting on a plane at a moment's notice to be whisked away to your business or pleasure destination. Consider the luxury that most private jets afford; they are a far cry from even the best first class service available on the commercial market. Imagine being able to drive to the airport just minutes before your scheduled departure, knowing you will be on board and on your way quickly. The appeal of private jets is undeniable.
Private jets come in four basic classes: Very Light Jets (VLJs), Light Jets, Business Jets, and Heavy Jets. Choosing the right jet for your company or organization really depends on your travel needs, and whether you'll be the sole owner or part of a fractional ownership model. Base prices increase as you move from lower class to higher, and luxuries and amenities will push the price tag higher.
Very Light Jets
VLJs, also known as microjets, are fairly new to the industry. Introduced in 2006 through Cessna's Citation Mustang, VLJ's held the promise of a more cost effective way to charter private jets for shorter trips. These smaller, lighter jets have not enjoyed the popularity that some analysts had predicted, but perhaps the air taxi model is the proper fit for these aircraft.
By definition, a VLJ is a lightweight jet with a maximum take-off weight of less than 10,000 pounds (4,540 kg). The standard configuration allows four to six passengers with a capacity of up to eight if there is no on-board lavatory. However, in the early days of VLJ travel, lack of a lavatory did not sit well with customers. VLJs are approved for single-pilot operation and are very popular with the individual owner-operator business model.
Light jets have been around since the 1960's introduction of the original Learjet. They are a bit heavier than their VLJ counterparts with a maximum take-off weight around 21,000 lb (9,545 kg), yet they are still small enough to utilize many local and regional airports too limited for heavy jets. The light jet typically carries eight to ten passengers and a crew of two to four. Among the different classes of private jets, the light jet class is the most active.
The Business Jets class is sub-divided into mid-sized and super mid-sized designations which typically feature wider-bodied aircraft, with a much longer range than lower class aircraft. They are meant for transcontinental flights with a larger passenger capacity and appropriate amenities for longer flights. Mid-sized planes have a passenger capacity of up to twelve, while super mid-sized planes carry twelve to sixteen.
The biggest private jets, also known as heavy jets, are really commercial airliners customized for individual owners and corporations. They offer all the performance capability of a standard commercial aircraft including long range, high payload limits, high passenger capacity, and so forth. The obvious draw back to the heavy jet class is the smaller number of airports they can operate from. Since one of the most appealing aspects of private jets is the increased airport options, private use of heavy jets is limited.
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