With over 140 private jet models to choose from, which are the most popular private jets? Which category of private jets is the most popular? And which private jet across all the models is the standout?
In total there are just over 21,000 private jets in active service, but how does this breakdown by class, model, and manufacturer? Read this article to see how this 21,000 private jet figure compares with other categories of aircraft, such as commercial and general aviation.
Knowing which aircraft are the most popular / in service is useful if you are thinking about chartering or purchasing an aircraft. If chartering, the more examples of each model in service will make it easier to charter that aircraft.
If purchasing, it will make it easier to find parts and people to operate and service your chosen aircraft.
Very Light Jets
Very light jets are the smallest jets on the market, are typically used for flights up to 2 hours with fewer than 4 passengers. VLJs typically represent the cheapest category of aircraft to own and operator.
There are currently just over 2,000 very light jets in active service across the globe, with the most popular aircraft being the Cessna Citation Mustang.
In total there are 487 Cessna Citation Mustang’s currently in service, with the largest operator being GlobeAir, a European charter operator who operates a fleet of Mustang’s.
The Cessna Citation Mustang is a single-pilot-certified jet aircraft, built to provide ample storage area, advanced engine controls, and a sleek aerodynamic design.
The smallest of the Cessna Citation family, the Citation Mustang features one of the fastest cruising speeds and largest baggage capacities in the class, as well as a full Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) type certification to fly into known icing conditions
After the mustang, there is the Embraer Phenom 100 family of aircraft – including the 100E and 100EV. These aircraft are a slight step up above the Mustang in terms of space and performance. In total there are just over 400 Phenom 100 aircraft currently in service.
The Phenom is then followed by the Cirrus Vision Jet (400 in service), the Cessna Citation M2 (over 330 in service), the Eclipse 500 (over 250 in service), the original HondaJet (around 200 in service), the HondaJet Elite S (around 50 in service), the Eclipse 550 (31 in service), and then finally the Vision Jet G2 (12 in service).
What’s interesting when looking at these figures is the sheer popularity of the Citation Mustang over its 11 year production run. Moreover, at the time of its production start in 2006, it was up against the Eclipse 500. Considering the fact that the Eclipse 500 was only produced between 2006 and 2008, to have an in service fleet figure over 50% of that of the Mustang is truly impressive.
Light jets are typically used for legs up to 3.5 hours and traditionally can carry up to 6 passengers in extreme comfort. However, some are, theoretically, capable of carrying up to 9 or 10 passengers. This will include passengers seated in the cockpit and belted lavatory.
In total there are just over 7,000 light jets currently in service, with 10% of these aircraft made up by the Embraer Phenom 300 and Phenom 300E.
There are just under 700 Phenom 300 and Phenom 300E aircraft in service. Embraer began designing the Phenom 300 after finding that potential customers of the Phenom 100 would also like a bigger aircraft. Designers took the basic fuselage cross-section of the 100 and added an extra 14 inches in length, an all-new wing, and powerful and quiet Pratt & Whitney Canada turbofan engines.
The Phenom 300 is able to fly up to 1,951 nautical miles and takeoff in 3,140 feet of runway space at sea level. Combined with its maximum cruising speed of 453 knots, the model has very impressive performance characteristics.
After the Phenom 300, the Cessna Citation II is the most popular light jet currently in service, with just over 500 aircraft in active service.
Throughout the list you can see that the Cessna Citation aircraft are typically towards the top of the list, with all but one aircraft (the Cessna Citation Encore+), having over 100 aircraft in service.
In comparison, there are the older Learjet aircraft that have decent popularity and remain in active service. However, the more modern Learjets, such as the Learjet 70 and 75, do not enjoy the same success and popularity.
Medium jets (also known as midsize jets) are, theoretically, just capable of crossing the Atlantic non-stop. However, with multiple passengers on board and depending on weather conditions, transatlantic crossings are unlikely.
Sometimes midsize jets are split into two categories, midsize and super midsize. However, in this situation, there will be a line drawn just between medium jets and large jets, with no super midsize category.
There are just over 5,000 medium jets registered to be in service around the world, with the most popular medium jet being the Hawker 800XP with 450 aircraft in service.
The Hawker 800XP is a variant of the Hawker 800. It offers improved payload capabilities, enhanced performance, and updated systems. The Hawker 800XP is widely regarded as one of the most successful aircraft that the British Aerospace Corporation has made.
As the third-generation model in the Hawker 800 series, it features the best of the Hawker 400, Hawker 800, and Hawker 1000. Production on the Hawker 800XP started in 1995 and ended in 2006.
The Hawker 800XP comes equipped with two AlliedSignal TFE731-5BR engines. Each engine is rated at 4,660 pounds of thrust at take-off. The Hawker 800XP requires 5,032 feet of runway to take off at sea level on a standard day. At an airport with an altitude of 5,000 feet, this take-off requirement increases to 7,952 feet of runway.
In a long-range cruise configuration, the Hawker 800XP is capable of maintaining an airspeed of 402 knots at an altitude of 39,000 feet. For a swifter flight, the Hawker 800XP is capable of maintaining an airspeed of 447 knots at an altitude of 37,000 feet in a high-speed cruise configuration.
Followling close behind is the Learjet 60 with 415 examples still in active service. There are then a series of Cessna aircraft, demonstrating the consistent popularity of Cessna aircraft. In descending order, the most popular midsize Cessna jets are the Sovereign (364 in service), the Excel (359 in service), XLS (353 in service), Latitude (328 in service), XLS+ (322 in service), Citation V (263 aircraft), and the Citation V Ultra (249 aircarft in service).
The number of aircraft per midsize jet model slowly decreases and towards the bottom of the list there are two types of aircaft. Firsly, new aircaft that have low figures as there hasn’t been a long enough prodution run for a substantial number to be produced.
For example, the Embraer Praetor 500. While there are only 28 currently in service, production only started in 2019. This, however, does not mean that the aircraft is not a popular option. Considering the performance, comfort, and quality, it is exceptionally well priced and very popular.
The other type of aircraft at the end of the list are older aircraft that are slowly being retired, such as the Learjet 55B, G100, and Falcon 200.
View the list below to see which medium aircraft are the most popular private jets.
Large Jets & VIP Airliners
Large jets are an increasingly popular category of aircraft, with some of the largest aircraft able to fly over 12 hours non-stop. The large jet category is home to some of the most technologically advanced passenger aircraft in the sky.
This category is home to the flagship aircraft of large manufacturers, such as Gulfstream, Dassault, and Bombardier. These aircraft are also the most expensive to own and operate. In total there are nearly 9,000 large private jets currently in service.
Out of all large jets, the most popular model is the Gulfstream G550 with over 600 aircraft in service. With over 600 aircraft currently in service, the model had a production run of 18 years – from 2003 to 2021.
The G550 is produced by Gulfstream at their headquarters in Savannah, Georgia and is based off the Gulfstream V platform. The original Gulfstream V was produced in the 1990’s in response to the Bombardier Global Express.
The G550 is powered by two Rolls-Royce BR710 engines mounted to the rear of the fuselage. Each BR710 produces 15,385 lb of thrust (30,770 lb total), which means the G550 can take-off in just 5,910 feet and can land in just 2,770 feet.
The engines are able to push the G550 to a maximum altitude of 51,000 feet and a maximum cruise speed of 488 knots. With a Max Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 91,000 lbs, the G550 has a range of 6,750 nautical miles, allowing it to hop from Europe to the Americas, Africa and most of Asia without issue.
After the G550 there are a number of Bombardier and and Gulfstream aircaft, such as Challenger 300 (485 in service), G650 (419 in service), Challenger 350 (408 in service), and Challenger 604 (354 in service). The only other aircraft to be included in the top 8 most popular large jets that isn’t a Gulfstream or Bombardier is the Cessna Citation X (346 in service) – the fastest private jet produced.
Look at the list below to see the complete service numbers for all large jets.
Most Popular Private Jet Manufacturers
When it comes to the most popular manufacturer, Cessna is far ahead of any other company with nearly 7,500 aircraft in active service.
Cessna is then closley followed by Bombardier, with Gulfstream and Dassault a close 3rd and 4th.
Both Cessna and Bombardier produce a wide range of jets, and have done for a long period of time. For example, Cessna has produced both the Mustang VLJ and the Large Citation X, along with everything inbetween.
Similarly, Bombardier have produced the Learjet light jets (although this lineup of aircraft has now been discontinued), while also producing the Global 7500 and Global 8000. Two of the largest, most advanced private jets that have ever existed.
Comparatively, Gulfstream and Dassault have, traditionally, focused on large jets only. This is especially true in recent years.
When looking at the popularity of all aircraft, there are some insights that we can draw on the overall popularity of each private jet type.
Out of the 20 most popular aircraft, 35% are light jets, an even 25% split each for medium and large jets, and VLJs trailing behind with a 15% share.
If we then take a look at the 50 least popular private jets (i.e. the models with the fewest aircraft in service), the most common category is the large jet category with a 42% share. Medium jets and large jets are pretty equal, with a 26% and 24% share respectively. VLJs only make up 6% of these aircraft and the VIP Airliner category is only responsible for 2% of aircraft.
Of course, it is important to remember that there are considerably more large jet models and aircraft in service. Therefore, the chances of having a greater share is more likely.