A business jet, private jet, or bizjet, or simply B.J., is a jet aircraft designed for transporting small groups of people. Business jets may be adapted for other roles, such as the evacuation of casualties or express parcel deliveries, and some are used by public bodies, government officials or the armed forces.
Almost all production business jets, such as General Dynamics' 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 reliability 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.
Almost all business jets have rear-mounted engines, because the wing (mounted low for performance reasons) is too near the ground for engines to be slung underneath it.
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 such airplanes often face operational restrictions based on runway length or local noise restrictions.
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 and are used by the air taxi industry. Cessna has developed the Mustang, a six-place twinjet (2 crew + 4 passengers) available for $2.55 million USD. A number of smaller manufacturers have planned even cheaper jets; the first was the Eclipse 500 from Eclipse Aviation (now Eclipse Aerospace) which was originally available at around 1.5 million USD.
There are 17,721 business jets in the worldwide fleet at the end of 2011 with about 70% of the fleet in North America. The European market is the next largest, with growing activity in the Middle East, Asia, and Central America.
Since 1996 the term "fractional jet" has been used in connection with business aircraft owned by a consortium of companies. Under such arrangements, overhead costs such as flight crew, hangarage and maintenance are split among the users.
Because of their low-volume productions and long lead times, new aircraft orders can take two to three years for delivery. This causes many buyers to consider used aircraft, to attain shorter delivery times; as a result the market for used business jets is significant and active.
A 2010 study by the National Business Aviation Association found that small and midsize companies that use private jets produce a 219% higher earnings growth rate than those that strictly fly commercial. Honeywell predicts 9,450 aircraft to be delivered during 2015-24, and most of these will be large.
The business jet industry groups these jets into five loosely-defined classes:
This is the most expensive type of private jet, as it provides the greatest space and capabilities. These aircraft, sometimes referred to as Bizliners (contraction of Business Airliners), are based on or converted from airliner types. Aircraft of this class include:
- Bombardier Aerospace
Super mid-size jets
Super mid-size jets feature wide-body cabin space, high-altitude capability, speed, and ultra-long range. These jets combine transatlantic capability with the speed and comfort of a wide-body, high-altitude aircraft. Aircraft of this class include:
These aircraft are suitable for longer-range travel such as transcontinental flights and for travel with larger passenger capacity requirements. Aircraft of this class include:
Light jets have been a staple of the business jet industry since the advent of the Learjet 23 in the early 1960s. They provide access to small airports and the speed to be an effective air travel tool. Aircraft of this class include:
Very light jets
Very light jets, also known as Microjets or VLJs, are designed to provide air travel, for example, to the more than 5,000 small community airports in the United States. VLJs are defined in the industry as having a maximum takeoff weight of not more than 10,000 pounds. Aircraft of this class include:
- Cirrus Vision SF50 (first delivery due late 2015)
||The examples and perspective in this section deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (June 2014)|
There are three basic types of operators who own, manage and operate private jets.
Flight departments are corporate-owned operators who manage the aircraft of a specific company. Ford Motor Company, Chrysler, and Altria are examples of companies that own, maintain and operate their own fleet of private aircraft for their employees. Flight departments handle all aspects of aircraft operation and maintenance. In the United States, flight-department aircraft operate under FAR 91 operating rules.
Charter operators own or manage private jets for multiple clients. Like traditional flight departments, charter companies handle all aspects of aircraft operation and maintenance. However, they are not aligned with just one corporation. They manage aircraft for a private owner or corporation and also handle the sales of available flight time on the aircraft they own or manage. Maintenance services can also be provided which typically include on-site or mobile repair, major and minor routine inspections, troubleshooting assistance away from base, avionics installation and repair, jet engine and battery service, interior modifications and refurbishment, Inspection Authority (IA) qualified inspectors, aircraft planning and budgetary projections, compliance with service bulletins, aircraft storage management, record keeping and management, technical appraisal of private jet purchases, leases and lease terminations, and Part 91 or Part 135 conformity inspections.
In the United States, business aircraft may be operated under either FAR 91 as private operations for the business purposes of the owner, or under FAR 135 as commercial operations for the business purposes of a third party. One common arrangement for operational flexibility purposes is for the aircraft's owner to operate the aircraft under FAR 91 when needed for its own purposes, and to allow a third-party charter-manager to operate it under FAR 135 when the aircraft is needed for the business purposes of third parties (such as for other entities within the corporate group of the aircraft's owner).
Fractional ownership, often called "time share", involves an individual or corporation who pays an upfront equity share for the cost of an aircraft. If four parties are involved, a partner would pay 1⁄4 of the aircraft price (a "quarter share"). That partner is now an equity owner in that aircraft and can sell the equity position if necessary. This entitles the new owner to 100 hours of flight time on that aircraft, or any comparable aircraft in the fleet. Additional fees include monthly management fees and incidentals such as catering and ground transportation. In the United States, fractional-ownership operations may be regulated by either FAA part 91 or part 135.
- Very light jet
- Air Taxi Association
- Air transports of heads of state and government
- Supersonic business jet
- Gunston 1986, p. 65
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- Epstein, Jonathan M. (1 October 2013). "Placing Your Aircraft With An Aircraft Charter-Management Company". Holland & Knight. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
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