Which VLJ is Best? HondaJet vs Phenom 100EV vs Cirrus Vision Jet vs Cessna Citation M2

HondaJet exterior

The Very Light Jet (VLJ) segment is an exciting one, populated by four contenders. The HondaJet HA-420, Embraer Phenom 100EV, Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet and the Cessna Citation M2. VLJs are perfect if you are a pilot looking to fly your own private jet or if you are looking to charter one as a passenger. VLJs are a great option for short hops between cities across the United States and around Europe. VLJs typically have a range of 1,200 nautical miles to 1,500 nautical miles and typically cruise around 400 knots. But which VLJ is the best for you?

From top left clockwise: HondaJet, Embraer Phenom 100EV, Cessna Citation M2, Cirrus Vision Jet

Speed

Let’s start out with speed. All aircraft have a maximum cruise speed so that you can get to your destination as fast as possible. In this category the HondaJet is the clear winner with a maximum cruising speed of 415 knots, followed by the Phenom 100EV at 406 knots, the M2 at 404 knots and far behind is the Cirrus Vision Jet with a maximum cruise speed of just 311 knots (although not bad considering it has half as many engines).

VLJ cruise speed comparison graph

Range

Having good range is crucial for any aircraft. Even if you aren’t pushing that range every time you fly, it is always good to know that you can get that little bit further if you really have to. Whether it be a diversion due to poor weather or a sudden change in destination mid-flight – range is important. The Citation M2 easily dominates the range battle with a maximum range of 1,550 nautical miles, with all the other aircraft in the 1,200 nautical miles camp.

VLJ range comparison graph

Take-Off Distance

Whether you are a pilot or passenger take-off distance is important. A shorter take-off distance means that you will be able to land at smaller airports, thereby allowing you to arrive closer to your final destination and depart closer to your point of origin. Being able to operate in and out of closer airports is likely to save you more time than a higher cruise speed. The Cirrus can take-off in just over 2,000 feet, over 1,000 feet less distance than the M2 and 100EV require, and just half the distance the HondaJet requires. Hardly surprising considering it is the smallest jet aircraft you can purchase.

VLJ take-off distance comparison graph

Capacity

With the exception of the Cessna Citation M2, all the VLJs have a maximum capacity of 5 passengers, with the M2 being able to carry up to 6 passengers. While capacity is of course important, it is unlikely you will ever want to have five passengers crammed in one of these aircraft. In order for five passengers one person will need to sit in the first officer’s seat and if you are chartering from a reputable operator, they will insist on having two pilots upfront.

Of course, all those passengers are likely to be carrying some bags with them. In this category the HondaJet and 100EV are evenly matched with a baggage capacity of 66 cubic feet and 70 cub feet respectively. No surprise, the Cirrus Vision Jet has the smallest baggage capacity, having storage for just 25 cubic feet of baggage.

Interior

When it comes to the interior design, there is very little between the M2, 100EV and HondaJet. These aircraft all have belted lavatories (with the HondaJets being the largest), four seats arranged in a club configuration and an optional side facing seat. To learn more about each individual interior click here.

The best way to compare the aircraft then is on the interior dimensions. Here, the HondaJet is has the longest cabin, with the Cessna and Embraer neck and neck with an interior length of 3.35 meters.

In terms of width the Phenom 100EV comes out on top offering 3 centimeters more than the HondaJet, 5 centimeters more than the SF50 and 8 centimeters more than the Cessna.

Again the Phenom 100EV comes out on top in regards to cabin height, with an overall height of 1.50 meters, with the Cirrus Jet coming out at the bottom with an interior height of 1.20 meters.

Comfort within an aircraft is not only dictated by the space within the cabin but also by the quality of the air and the noise within the cabin. All aircraft have a cabin altitude of 8,000 feet, similar to the cabin altitude found in most airliners. Considering passengers will only ever be spending a couple hours at a time in these cabins this is not much of an issue. In terms of cabin noise levels, the Cirrus Vision Jet is the loudest, despite only having one engine. The Vision Jet has an average noise level of 88 dB, with the HondaJet & Phenom 100EV level pegging with an average cabin noise level of 80 dB.

From top left clockwise: HondaJet, Embraer Phenom 100EV, Cessna Citation M2, Cirrus Vision Jet

Price

Whether you are looking to buy one of these aircraft or charter on-demand, price is an important factor to consider. With the exception of the Cirrus Vision Jet, you can expect to pay approximately $2,400 per flight hour for each aircraft. The Cirrus Vision Jet will cost an estimated $1,900 per flight hour to charter.

If you are looking to charter one of these aircraft (or indeed any aircraft), be sure to click here to find a charter broker that suits your needs.

When buying, the Cirrus Vision Jet is the absolute cheapest costing just under $2 million brand new, and the HondaJet & Phenom 100EV each costing around $4.5 million apiece. The Cessna Citation M2 comes in at the most expensive costing from $4.7 million.

So, Which VLJ is Best?

Which VLJ is best then? Which one should you charter? Of course, it depends on your individual needs and each aircraft is likely to be able to satisfy you one way or another.

The Cirrus is a great choice when there are only a couple of passengers and you are flying between very small airports for a short period of time in the air.

If there are more of you, the Phenom 100EV is a great choice for a balance between performance and interior comfort, having the largest cabin (by a few centimeters).

The HondaJet is a fantastic option if you are looking to stand out and the over-wing engine design is inspired. However, especially if you are looking to charter you will have to spend more time finding a company that actually operates them as there are far few in circulation.

Finally, the Cessna Citation M2. If you need the extra 300 nautical miles of range, the M2 is the best option for flying significantly more distance.