Data from aviation consultancy Conklin & de Decker shows the five private jets in the light category with the longest range – Bombardier’s Learjet 36A/35A, Sierra Industries’ FJ44 Super SII S550/550, and the Nextant Aerospace 400XT haven’t been in production for over a decade. Still, you will find the Lears and 400XTs offered in some jet card programs providing a nonstop range that is longer than you might expect. The Lear 36A, for example, can fly 2,425 nautical miles will all four passenger seats filled.
Before we compare the rest of the field, keep in mind that there isn’t an official segmentation for very light jets, although many classify the type as having under 10,000 pounds maximum takeoff weight. The industry’s light jet definition includes all business jets up to 20,000 pounds maximum takeoff weight, which is how we have sorted the data for you, particularly since when shopping for jet cards, programs are not divided to separate VLJs.
One thing you will notice when it comes to evaluating jet card programs is that many offerings are divided by category – so for example, large, super mid, midsize and then light jets. Within each category for some card programs, including light jets, you will find a delineation of aircraft delivered before or after a specific year meaning you get a slightly better price for an older jet. As you review which aircraft types each program puts into each category, the below will be helpful in making sure the aircraft being offered have the nonstop range that you need. Remember that with most programs you are charged 12 minutes taxi time per segment, so a fuel stop may add not only additional time but an extra 12 minutes of taxi time to your invoice.
While some card programs allow you to upgrade category size based on need, it also comes with a higher rate, so if you go into a program thinking you will be mainly flying light jets and it turns out you need more range and instead pay for midsize aircraft, you will end up spending more than you probably anticipated. It’s one reason even though everyone Googles jet card price and jet card costs, figuring out what you will end up spending and make that final price comparison can really only be done after you take the time to research the options. It’s a reason I always jet card buyers to map out as much of their planned trips as possible, and something we help subscribers with via our Jet Card Decider VIP assistance.
On the flip side, there are a number of jet card providers that offer both guaranteed availability and fixed one-way rates – meaning no ferry fees – for specific aircraft types they sell in the light jet category (more on that in a moment). Nicholas Air, for example, enables you to choose any aircraft in its fleet which on the light jet side includes the Embraer Phenom 100 and 300, plus the Citation CJ3. OneFlight International, a broker program, offers a variety of light jet options, while Executive AirShare (Phenom 100 and 300), Flexjet (Phenom 300), JetSuite (Phenom 100 and 300 – fixed rate but not guaranteed availability), Magellan Jets (Hawker 400XP), NetJets (Citation Excel/XLS), ProspAir (Learjet 45), Silverhawk Aviation (Citation Excel, II and Ultra), TeeBee Jets (Beechjet 400E) and Wheels Up (Citation Excel/XLS) each have programs focused around specific types of light jets.
When it comes to these jet specific options, the Phenom 300 is the standout in terms of being able to fly you the furthest without a fuel stop. But here’s the rub – when you take a look at the table below you won’t find the Citation XLS, XLS+, Learjet 40, 45, 55C and 40XR, each of which has a maximum takeoff weight of just over 20,000 pounds and so while many programs offer them as light jets – they are in fact at the entry point of midsize cabin if you want to go by the book.
For a direct comparison, in terms of range with a full load of passengers, the Phenom 300/300E shows it can fly you 1,811 nautical miles while a Lear 45XR maxes out at 1,685 nautical miles, the 40XR is 1,778 nautical miles and the Citation XLS/XLS+ is 1,539 nautical miles. NetJets says its 25-hour Marquis Jet combo card that enables you to split hours between any two aircraft is popular because the Excel/XLS can fly nonstop eastbound from Colorado ski resorts but would need a fuel stop flying westbound with typical headwinds. Members split their westbound flying into Citation Sovereign, executives say.
|Aircraft Name||Seats Executive||Range with Seats Full||Range with Four Passengers|
|Bombardier Learjet 35A||8||1,930||2,125|
|Embraer Phenom 300||7||1,811||2,077|
|Nextant Aerospace 400XTi||7||1,527||1,945|
|Cessna Citation CJ3||8||1,374||1,891|
|Beechcraft King Air 350||8||1,440||1,550|
|Cessna Citation M2||6||1,380||1,550|
|Beechcraft Hawker 400XP||8||1,180||1,519|
|Embraer Phenom 100||5||915||1,242|
|Honda Aircraft HA-420 HondaJet||5||792||1,188|
|Cirrus Vision SF50||5||796||1,176|