November 29, 2021  ·  Todd Spangler

Private jet categories

By Todd Spangler, Americas Sales Director, Jetcraft

With so many options out there, finding the right private jet for your needs can at first seem a daunting task. However, when armed with expert advice and the answers to several key questions, you can quickly narrow the field.

Most importantly, consider what types of mission you wish to fly. Will you be flying domestically, internationally or across the world? How many passengers will be traveling with you? Will you only be visiting major cities, or will you need to land at remote airfields?

Apply your answers to the six basic industry categories of business jet and you could soon be buying your first (or next) aircraft:

Very light jets (VLJs)

A relatively new segment of private jet, VLJs are particularly popular among owner-operators, attracting pilots who want to buy and fly their own aircraft. Acquisition and operating costs are lower than for larger jets and the size of this aircraft offers the agility to access small airports with shorter runways. In the US alone, that opens up more than 5,000 airports for business travel. Leading examples in this category include the Cessna Citation Mustang and the Embraer Phenom 100, as well as the newer entrant HondaJets.

If you’re looking to experience private aviation for the first time this category could well be the ideal place to start.

Capacity: 4-6 passengers
Amenities: Limited in-cabin amenities, but lavatories are possible
Range: 1,000 miles
Speed: Up to 480 mph

Light jets

This broad category typically offers less range than most larger jet types and typically suits owners who need transportation for short missions for six-to-eight passengers. Cabin height and width may not be as luxurious as in larger aircraft, but you’re securing the transportation you need and the freedom to land at smaller, less busy airports, while also delivering intra-continental capabilities.

Popular examples of light business jets include the Pilatus PC-24 (often appealing to owners and operators upgrading from a turboprop) and the Cessna Citation CJ3 and CJ4. The Embraer Phenom 300 has also been hugely successful.

Capacity: 6-8 passengers
Amenities: Reclining seats, air conditioning, some electronics
Range: 1,500 miles
Speed: 400-450 mph

Midsize jets

There’s a definite increase in range as we move from light jets to the midsize segment. US coast-to-coast travel, or flying across mainland Europe, can become very easy. This category emerged to accommodate transcontinental flight for larger groups of passengers (five to 10) and therefore cabin height, width and comfort are improved on the categories we’ve looked at so far, boosting in-cabin productivity.

Examples of these aircraft include Cessna’s Citation X, Sovereign, Latitude and Longitude models, as well as Embraer’s Legacy and Praetor lines. In the pre-owned market, Hawker and Bombardier Learjets are also popular options.

Capacity: 5-10 passengers
Amenities: Pressurized cabin, two pilots, lavatory, in-flight workspace
Range: 2,000-3,000 miles
Speed: 430-480 mph

Super midsize jets

First defined by the Bombardier Challenger 300 line, super midsize business jets are a strong player in the marketplace. Tremendously popular in terms of size, these jets offer a highly desirable large cabin feel but have lower operating costs than their heavier counterparts: a blend which makes this category very special. Able to climb to high altitudes quickly yet comfortably, super midsize aircraft are luxurious, fast and more fuel efficient, supporting long-range travel.

Alongside Bombardier’s aircraft, popular super midsize jets include the Gulfstream G200 and G280.

Capacity: 8-10 passengers
Amenities: Luxurious, with room for passengers and baggage
Range: 3,400-3,600 miles
Speed: 490-590 mph

Large jets

These very successful aircraft, typically carrying up to 15 passengers, offer a whole new level of range, comfort and capability from the aircraft types we have looked at so far. Purposely designed to enable business as usual in flight, large jets can be fitted out with everything from on-board dining areas and conference tables to showers and sleeping quarters. Highly customizable and able to operate in most weather conditions due to their flying altitude, these aircraft are designed to cross continents.

Popular models in this category include Bombardier’s Global 7500, 6500 and 5500, the Gulfstream G500, G600 and G700 and the Dassault Falcon 6X, 7X and 8X.

Capacity: 10-15 passengers
Amenities: On board dining area, sleeping quarters, high spec electronics
Range: 7,000+ miles
Speed: 480-560 mph


Finally, this category consists of business or corporate jets in the form of Boeing (BBJ) or Airbus (ACJ) airplanes. The largest of our aircraft types, airliners offer inflight passenger environments closer to living spaces and conference rooms than conventional cabins with onboard suites and showers. There is a downside – unlike smaller jets, airliners are limited to landing at certain airports, but the overall level of comfort and luxury is unmatched by any other category of business aircraft.

Capacity: 15-25 passengers
Amenities: Conference rooms, offices, full-service galley, suites
Range: 6,700+ miles
Speed: 500-560 mph

Whatever your mission and performance requirements, the perfect business jet is out there waiting for you. Please contact your nearest Jetcraft sales representative for all the advice and support you need.

Use the form below to download our comprehensive list of business jet models divided in to categories.

Download the Business Jet Category Brochure

  • Download the Business Jet Category Brochure

    We have put together a comprehensive list of business jet models by category.
    Fill out the form below to view the brochure.


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