In today’s world of international business, every second counts. One minute you may be needed in Tokyo; the next thing there could be a meeting in New York that simply cannot be missed. And when time is money, a savvy investment in the form of a business jet can certainly afford some extra time. The “light jet” class was pioneered by the Learjet 23, which was introduced in 1964. Now, the most recent development is the “very light” class, or “personal jet,” which costs less to run and requires less runway space. In the U.S. alone, very light jets have access to a network of over 5,000 smaller local airports. Read on for ten of the coolest small business jets out there.
10. Honda HA-420 HondaJet
The Honda Aircraft Company’s inaugural civil aircraft, the HA-420 HondaJet, first took to the skies on December 3, 2003. However, after numerous tests, and a delayed maiden flight in 2010, the impressive-looking jet is still frustratingly in the “early production” stage. In 2013 Honda made a statement saying that the aircraft was due for more tests and that its certification would be held back until 2014. The HA-420 HondaJet has enough space for a maximum of seven people (including crew), and the 42 foot 7 inch aircraft’s top speed is 483 mph (778 km/h), with its range a respectable 1,358 miles. Honda announced that the hotly anticipated plane will be shown off at the 2013 National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Convention & Exhibition, held in Las Vegas from October 22 to 24.
9. Learjet 45XR
In June 2004 Bombardier Aerospace released the Learjet 45XR, which is an update of the company’s classic super-light jet, the Learjet 45. The Learjet 45 was flown for the first time on October 7, 1995 and entered the aviation market in January 1998. Thanks to its new Honeywell TFE731-20BR turbo engine setup, the XR version can take off carrying a heavier load. It also boasts a greater cruise speed and climbs quicker than the standard Learjet 45. According to Bombardier, the XR version is an “overachiever” that flies “faster, higher and farther with more passengers and range flexibility than any aircraft in its class.” The Learjet 45XR has a top speed of 535 mph, a range as much as 2,300 miles and can reach an altitude of 51,000 feet. What’s more, London Air Services say it can fly from London to Los Angeles in just two and a half hours. Additional features include 110-volt electrical plugs, foldable work desks and a “digital airborne telephone” that will ensure its up to nine passengers don’t miss a thing while they’re soaring through the clouds.
8. Beechcraft Premier IA
According to its manufacturers, the Beechcraft Premier IA is “the world’s largest, fastest, most advanced single-pilot business jet.” Work began on the Beechcraft Premier I in 1994, and it took to the air for the first time on December 22, 1998, before being introduced to the market in 2001. The Premier IA version – which is faster and features more state-of-the-art avionics equipment and a larger cabin – achieved Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification on September 22, 2005. Able to carry six to seven passengers, the Premier IA has a top speed of 526 mph and, when carrying five people, a range of 1,645 miles. It’s also more economical than its closest competitor, the Cessna Citation CJ2+, and features the life-saving Integrated Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 electronic system – which should help ensure a smooth flight.
7. Cessna Citation CJ4
Encompassing various versions, the Cessna CitationJet series has been popular ever since the first model took flight on April 29, 1991. Based on the Cessna Aircraft Company’s Model 525, the CJ4 jet is the seventh jet in the series and was introduced in 2006. Building on the CJ3, the CJ4 features an extended cabin and – taking its cues from the Citation Sovereign – a swept wing. Although it has been labeled the “heavy hitter of light jets,” the CJ4 encountered an early stumbling block when in 2011 the FAA temporarily grounded the jet over battery concerns; however production has since resumed. Certified to be flown by one pilot, the jet can carry a total of nine passengers, while it has a maximum range of 2,259 miles and a top cruise speed of 519 mph.
6. Eclipse 500
Introduced on December 31, 2006, Eclipse Aviation’s Eclipse 500 helped pioneer the “very light jet” aviation class. Seating a maximum of six people (including one pilot), the 33 foot 1 inch jet can reach a top speed of 425 mph and has a range of 1,295 miles. Based on Williams International’s Williams V-Jet II, the design was refined and adapted by Eclipse Aviation. One sacrifice for its size is that it doesn’t have a lavatory – the cause of much debate when the plane was delivered. Following the liquidation of Eclipse Aviation in 2008, the company’s assets – including the Eclipse 500 – were transferred to new company Eclipse Aerospace. Despite the difficult start for the new class, 260 craft were produced between 2001 and 2008, and Eclipse Aerospace made it known that the follow-up model 550 would be ready for delivery in 2013.
5. Embraer Phenom 300
First flown in 2008, the Phenom 300 is a “light business jet” produced by Brazilian company Embraer. The jet was introduced in 2009, and so far 117 craft have been built. Capable of carrying a maximum of nine people, the 52 foot 2 inch jet has a top speed of 518 mph, a range of 2,268 miles and can reach an altitude of 45,000 feet. Designed in conjunction with BMW Designworks USA, the roomy Phenom 300 also boasts the biggest luggage storage space and the biggest windows – including a restroom window – in its class.
4. Beechjet Hawker 400XPR
The Beechjet Hawker 400XPR is a small dual-engine business jet that promises to “transform your expectations.” First flown on August 29, 1978, the Hawker 400 (then known as the MU-300 Diamond) was originally produced by Mitsubishi – before the rights to build the jet were purchased by Beechjet and the aircraft was renamed the Beechjet 400. Then in 1993 Raytheon bought the jet and rebranded it the Hawker 400. The 400XPR is an upgrade of the 400XP model, boasting increased range and more state-of-the-art technology. The jet has a maximum speed of 518 mph and an altitude ceiling of 45,000 feet. While carrying up to four passengers, it has a range of 1,905 miles.
3. Gulfstream G150
Originally dubbed the Astra SPX, the Gulfstream G100 series is built by Israel Aircraft Industries for Gulfstream Aerospace. Following on from a design that was acquired in the late 1960s, the Astra SPX, the third version in the series, was first flown in 1994. When Gulfstream took over Galaxy Aerospace in 2002, the jet was rebranded the Gulfstream G100 and put into production. In September that year Gulfstream also made the upgraded G150 model public. The 56 foot 9 inch business jet has an impressive maximum speed of 647 mph and can reach an altitude of 45,000 feet. With its roomier interior and the option of three different seating setups, the G150 can accommodate up to eight passengers, and according to Gulfstream, it “provides the most value in its class.”
2. Cessna Citation Mustang Model 510
The Cessna Citation Mustang, also known as the Model 510, is a very light business jet produced by Kansas-based aircraft company Cessna. The jet has enough space for four passengers and two crewmembers, and it first took to the air on April 23, 2005. Featuring swept wings attached close to the lower part of the plane’s fuselage, this jet falls into the low wing category, while its frame is mainly composed of an aluminum alloy. Powered by dual PW615F turbofan engines, the 40 foot 7 inch jet has a maximum speed of 480 mph and a range of 1,343 miles. Plus, the Citation Mustang is capable of reaching an altitude of 41,000 feet.
1. Learjet 60 XR
Bombardier’s Learjet 60 XR business jet is capable of carrying eight passengers and two crewmembers. Built by Wichita-based Bombardier Aerospace, the 60 series is based on the earlier Learjet 55, with the engineers having added a longer body and increased engine power. The Learjet 60 XR’s two engines afford the jet a range of 2,773 miles and a top speed of 522 mph. Renowned for its climbing rate, the Learjet 60 can reach an altitude of 41,000 feet in just 18 minutes and 30 seconds. The XR is a 2005 variant with updated aviation technology and an improved interior, deliveries of which began in 2007 – and currently it is the only 60-series jet in production. The jet has proven popular among companies and high-profile individuals around the world and has also been used in military and governmental roles. In the United States, the FAA itself uses 60 Learjet 60s.