In the wake of the recession, prices for business aircraft have plummeted, ushering the world into an age where business aviation is an essential tool rather than an executive toy. With that in mind, Executive Traveller takes you through a list of the best mid-sized bizjets on the market and what you can expect to get out of them.
Gone are the days when only the largest, richest multinationals could afford the luxury of business aviation. Through the 2008 recession, smart executives devised emphatic arguments in favour of retaining business aircraft, citing their use in developing, protecting and acquiring business around the world, the travel flexibility, speed and accessibility offered by privately-owned aircraft and the fact the most lucrative business deals are sealed over face-to-face encounters between upper echelon management.
Most jets add much to an executive’s performance and score major points for being able to travel to out of the way airports, unfrequented by commercial carriers. Consider this simple statistic from the American National Business Aviation Association: “While executives are productive 30% of the time while on a commercial carrier, they are found to be productive about 80% of the time they are traveling on a company aircraft.”
Plus, the perks of being able to hold confidential meetings in the air while en route to the negotiating table are a boon to both efficiency and security.
And those that decry the sheer expense involved in owning and maintaining an aircraft (fueling costs, hangar rentals, pilots fees, etc.) would do well to consider fractional ownership, which drastically lowers aviation expenditure. Another relatively low-cost option is jet cards, which allow you to use an aircraft for a predetermined amount of time (usually sold in 10 – 25 hour increments).
In case you’ve been looking at traveling via private jet on the company tab, we’ll run you past some of the best mid-sized company jets available on the market:
BAE Hawker 900XP
One of the most popular mid-size business jets, the venerable Hawker 900XP offers an alluring blend of cabin space (8-13 passengers) and range (3000-4500 km). With the aircraft’s initial design formulated in 1983, the aircraft has a remarkably safety record and a reputation for reliability. Be prepared to shell out about $14 million for a brand new version of this bad boy, although pre-owned variants are likely cost significantly less, albeit at the cost of efficiency and flight-worthiness.
Embraer Legacy 650
With a longer range than the well-known Embraer Legacy 600, the $30 million Legacy 650 offers the globe trotting executive over 7000 km of non-stop air travel with 8 passengers (although it can carry a total of 13). A trio of cabin areas can be configured to provide workspaces, dining areas and entertainment zones allowing for the best of business and pleasure, at 12000 feet in the air.
Bombardier Learjet 85
The biggest and fastest Learjet to date, the 85 holds 8 passengers rockets them across the sky across ranges of over 5000 km. The aerodynamic design and carbon composite structure of each Learjet is designed to extract the best possible level of performance from the twin Pratt & Whitney engines. And in much the same way, Learjet’s signature double club, fully-reclinable seating aims to improve in-flight productivity and maximize passenger comfort – all for $17.2 million.
Dassault Falcon 7X
Dassault has a long history of producing top-notch military aircraft, so expect their business jet offering to incorporate several cutting edge technologies. One of only two business trijets in operation, the Dassault Falcon 7X also has the distinction of being the first fully ‘fly-by-wire’ business aircraft in the world. Carrying up to 14 passengers, the Falcon is among the largest mid-size corporate jets in the world, and boasts of an 11000 km range. But at $50 million this machine is certainly among the world’s priciest.
When one thinks ‘business jet’, the first name to come to mind is often ‘Gulfstream’ and with good reason too. The company, pioneers in the field of business aviation, has been manufacturing corporate jets for well over 50 years and as a testament to the their experience, the G650 (immortalized in pop music culture by the Far East Movement) is their biggest and sexiest jet yet. This aircraft really is the gold standard when it comes to business aviation. The 18-passenger capacity means the jet can carry as large an entourage as necessary to a maximum range of well over 12000 km. To maximize business productivity, Gulfstream offers 12 different floor plans that include a conference room, staterooms and complete passenger privacy.
The first of its kind, the Aerion SBJ is slated to blast business aviation into the future at supersonic speeds. Wind tunnel testing has confirmed that the SBJ can indeed achieve speeds of Mach 2.0, making it one of the fastest passenger jets in the world. One drawback however, is the 8000 km that the plane will fly at supersonic cruise speeds – a trifle too short for the $80 million that corporations are expected to shell out to experience the big boom. Keep your fingers crossed though, since the Aerion SBJ is still at the concept stage will take a while to hit private hangars.
While more a bizliner than a mid-sized jet, we couldn’t resist including the magnificent Airbus ACJ380 in this feature. Nicknamed ‘The Flying Palace’, this aircraft is considered the emperor of executive jets and features over 100 square metres of cabin area and a dazzlingly luxurious number of configurations. Other amazing features include a 50% reduction in cabin noise, pressurization to the equivalent of 5000 feet, a passenger capacity of 50 (in VIP configuration) and a $75 million price tag. Plus, the sheer size of this bird allows for an all-weather landing system, leaving you safe in your airport of choice, while other flights possibly languish in adjacent airfields. Oh and did we mention its whopping 17,000 km range?