Light Jets, Heavy Benefits
Barron's, by Matt Thurber
Save money by matching your machine to your mission.
Technology makes many things smaller and cheaper, and thankfully, private jets are no exception. Until 2006, when the new generation of very light jets like the Cessna Mustang and Eclipse 500 hit the market, and then, two years later, the Embraer Phenom 100, your only choices were supercramped light jets or putting up with the extra cost of flying larger models.
But now there are options. The vast majority of business aircraft seat six passengers in a cabin roughly the size of a large SUV and fly an average trip of less than 1,000 nautical miles, claims the National Business Aviation Association. That's frequently in planes costing about $10 million. Very light jets, in contrast, typically seat six to eight passengers, have a maximum range of 1,178 nautical miles, and roughly cost between $2 million and $4 million.
In other words, most business flights neatly fit the very light jet's mission; if owners need a larger jet for the occasional long-range flight, they can always charter. Says Eclipse Aerospace's CEO and chairman, Mason Holland: "I use the plane like an air limo myself."