How Much Runway Do Private Jets Need to Take-Off?

Being able to take-off in the shortest distance possible is always beneficial.

Having a lower take-off distance will result in aircraft being able to operate from more airports. This, in turn, results in passengers being able to fly in and out of smaller airports.

Not only does this mean that the aircraft is more versatile in where it can go, but it will also reduce journey time. Given that aircraft can operate in and out of more airports, the aircraft can depart and arrive closer to your final destination.

This, therefore, reduces ground travel time, resulting in a shorter overall journey time. And, after all, the primary purpose of private jets is to reduce overall travel time.

Cessna CitationJet

Minimum Take-Off Distance of All Private Jets

When it comes to the length of the runway that private jets require to take-off, the figure that will be quoted is typically the minimum distance required.

As with seemingly everything in aviation, there are a variety of factors that influence real-world numbers.

However, given that it is impossible to account for every single scenario that would affect the actual take-off distance of these aircraft, we will stick with the manufacturers minimum take-off distance figures.

Something that is interesting to note when looking at the graph of the minimum take-off figures for all private jets is the smoothness. This is especially interesting when compared with the shape of the maximum altitude graph of all private jets.

Large Aircraft Minimum Take-Off Distance

The difference in minimum take-off distance between the best and worst performing large jet is stark.

By quite some margin the aircraft with the longest minimum take-off distance is the Bombardier Challenger 850 with a minimum take-off distance of 6,800 feet. Of course, this is hardly surprising given that it is a large aircraft based on the CRJ200 airliner.

However, the Challenger 850 has the same cabin size as the Global 6000, however, the Global 6000 performs marginally better than the Challenger 850.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, there is the Dassault Falcon 50-40. An aircraft that despite being 40 years old still demonstrates impressive performance figures all around.

Dassault Falcon 8X taking off from London City airport
Dassault Falcon 8X

In terms of trends, there is very little to go on with the minimum take-off distance.

It is not as clear-cut as the trends of maximum cruise speed or range, for example.

There is not a trend that larger aircraft require more runway than smaller jets. That simply does not exist here. Or, at least, doesn’t happen enough to draw it as a common theme.

For example, the Gulfstream G650 – at one point the flagship aircraft for Gulfstream – requires just 5,858 feet to take-off. In comparison, the smaller Dassault Falcon 2000LXS requires at least 5,878 feet of runway.

Of course, a difference of twenty feet will not make a difference in the real world. However, it is important to recognize in order to identify the lack of trend between size and minimum take-off distance.

Medium Aircraft Minimum Take-Off Distance

Surprisingly, when it comes to the minimum take-off distance for medium-sized aircraft the gap becomes even greater.

Within this category, we see the worst-performing aircraft, the Gulfstream G200, with a minimum take-off distance of 7,000 feet.

And then, at the opposite end of the scale, there is the Pilatus PC-24, with a minimum take-off distance of an impressive 2,930 feet.

Of course, if you know about the PC-24, this will not come as a surprise. In terms of ground performance, the PC-24 is in a league of its own. It is one of the most versatile jets on the market, being able to perform impressively at high-altitude airfields. Furthermore, it possesses the rare ability among jets to be able to land on gravel, dirt, and grass runways.

Pilatus pc-24 take off from dirt runway
Pilatus PC-24

In between these two extremes there are, once again, very few trends to note with the minimum take-off distance of midsize aircraft.

Light Aircraft Minimum Take-Off Distance

In the light aircraft category, there are some trends to report in regards to minimum take-off distance.

Firstly, the difference between the best and worst performing aircraft.

The Cessna Citation III is the light jet with the longest minimum take-off distance, requiring at least 5,030 feet to get into the sky. However, it is in good company with the Bombardier Learjet 35A and Learjet 36A, with both requiring at least 4,972 meet.

At the opposite end, there is the Embraer Phenom 300 with a minimum take-off distance of 3,138 feet. This, as well, is in good company with the Cessna Citation CJ3 and CJ3+, with both aircraft requiring at least 3,180 feet.

However, note that these figures are still greater than the Pilatus PC-24. This just further demonstrates the impressive ground performance of the Swiss-made aircraft.

Embraer Phenom 300E exterior on approach to land
Embraer Phenom 300E

In-between these two extremes there are some trends to report.

Firstly, the difference between the Phenom 300 and Citation III is not as significant as with midsize and large jets. There is a difference in minimum take-off distance of just under 2,000 feet between these two aircraft.

Secondly, the aircraft in-between are far more grouped together, primarily into three distinct groups.

Starting from the best performing aircraft, there are those with a minimum take-off distance of around 3,100 feet to around 3,500 feet. These aircraft include the Phenom 300, CJ3, CJ3+, Phenom 300E, Citation SII, Citation I, CJ2, CJ4, Citation II, and Learjet 31.

After this group, we find the aircraft with a minimum take-off distance of around 3,800 feet to just under 4,000 feet. Aircraft such as the Learjet 31A and Nextant 400XTi.

The final group is made up of the light jets that require a slightly longer runway, albeit not by much. These are the aircraft that need between 4,200 feet and 5,000 feet. Generally speaking, these are the larger of the light jets.

Very Light Jets (VLJ) Minimum Take-Off Distance

And finally, the minimum take-off distance of Very Light Jets (VLJs).

Straight away there is an obvious grouping of aircraft, those with a minimum take-off distance of 3,110 feet to 3,400 feet. These aircraft are the Phenom 100, Phenom 100E, Citation M2, Phenom 100EV, and Cessna Citation Mustang.

The only aircraft with a lower minimum take-off distance are the really small jets – almost the true VLJs.

These aircraft are the Eclipse 500, Eclipse 500, and, of course, the Cirrus Vision Jet SF50 with a minimum take-off distance of just over 2,000 feet.

At the top end of the spectrum there is the HondaJet HA-420 with a minimum take-off distance of 4,000 feet.

HondaJet Exterior in blue paint, aerial shot above the clouds banking left
HondaJet HA-420

Once again, to put these figures in context, we must reference the Pilatus PC-24.

With the exception of the Eclipse 550, Eclipse 500, and Cirrus Vision Jet, the PC-24 outperforms all these aircraft.

Moreover, the PC-24 can land on almost any runway surface and is a midsize jet. The aircraft that have a lower minimum take-off distance don’t even have toilets onboard.

Factors Affecting Minimum Take-Off Distance

There are a variety of factors that will impact the take-off distance of a private jet.

There are external factors, such as outside air temperature, winds, runway slope, airport altitude, and more.

However, for the purposes of the comparison of minimum take-off distance between these private jets, there are three key factors that will influence minimum take-off distance.

These factors are weight, power, and aerodynamic profile.

Put simply, the greater the weight, the longer it will take for an aircraft to get up to speed to generate enough lift to take-off. Moreover, the heavier an aircraft is the more air is required in order to generate lift.

In terms of power, that’s how the aircraft gets up to the speed to generate lift. Therefore, more powerful engines will allow the aircraft to get up to speed much quicker.

And finally, the aerodynamic profile. Depending on the angle of attack, different levels of lift will be generated.

Ultimately, the take-off role is not the only part, and optimizing just for a low minimum take-off distance will result in trade-offs in other parts in flight. Therefore, it is all a balance of reaching the optimal performance all around.

Summary

The most interesting conclusion that can be drawn from looking at the minimum take-off distance of private jets is the lack of trends between midsize and large jets.

However, trends start to develop when looking at smaller aircraft such as light jets and VLJs.

Finally, the real takeaway from this analysis should be the phenomenal ground performance of the Pilatus PC-24.