How to Buy a Personal Jet

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Ever since Bill Lear revolutionized the private jet market with the introduction of his Learjet 23 in 1964, corporate chief executives and wealthy travelers have been flying in style on custom jet aircraft. The business jet has become so common that most passengers are middle management types. In fact, it's now a buyer's market.

Do a cost-benefit analysis before you spring for a private jet. Aviation experts suggest that 350 to 400 hours of flight time per year usually justifies full ownership of a jet. Otherwise, you should consider fractional ownership (see Tips).

Consider the hidden costs. Along with a price tag that ranges from $6 million to $50 million for a new private jet, factor in necessities such as insurance, fuel, catering and pilots--who are in short supply. Aircraft management companies will take care of these needs for about $100,000 to $200,000 per year, depending on the size and usage of the jet.

Determine the size and flying range you'll need. Light jets ($3 million to $8 million) can take 5 to 8 passengers roughly 2,000 miles (3,219 km); midsize executive jets ($9 million to $16 million) can take up to 9 passengers from 2,000 to 3,000 miles (3,219 to 4,828 km); and large executive jets ($17 million to $45 million) can carry 12 passengers more than 4,000 miles (6,437 km). The more popular makers and models are: Learjet, Boeing Business Jet, Cessna, Gulfstream and Dassault Falcon.

When you're ready to buy, contact private jet manufacturers and ask for aircraft specifications and pricing. Next, shop online via private jet dealers, which sell new and used jets, including repossessed aircrafts at deep discounts.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consider fractional ownership: You purchase a share in a jet plane from a management company (mostly as a tax deduction), then pay a monthly fee and hourly operations costs. On as little as four hours' notice, the management company sends out whichever jet is most conveniently located.
  • Consider renting an aircraft. See Related eHows for instructions.
  • A used jet may not be such a great deal. To land at many U.S. airports a jet must be compliant with Stage 3 federal aviation regulations. Converting a private jet to comply with regulations takes several hundred thousand dollars and many months of repair time, as most private jet aircraft repair centers are already backlogged.

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