Private Jet Aircraft Manufacturers
The early 1930’s saw the first plans for the manufacture of airplanes propelled by jets, with the first of these taking off in 1939 (Dr. Hans von Ohain - Germany) and 1941 (Sir Francis Whittle, who filed the first patent - UK) respectively. And thus started the great debate as to whether traditional propeller craft or the new jets were better.
However, while the eventual winner was written down in history, propeller-driven aircraft are still suitable for shorter air travel, with jets being more appropriate for travelling faster over longer distances.
Because it was the rich and famous who originally were the leading users, private jet travel in the 1960’s was the height of luxury, opulence and service. And sometimes even vulgarity.
Although luxury still remains, the emphasis tends to be on functionality as a major consideration by the current core audience of both corporate and private business owners and charterers. They demand practicality to sit firmly side-by-side with their luxury.
The most popular private jet aircraft manufacturers are listed below.
Famous for manufacturing the world’s largest passenger airliner - the Airbus A380, this major European-based manufacturer has subsidiaries around the world and is a major competitor to Boeing.
The company originally began as a consortium of aerospace manufacturers, Airbus Industrie and was formerly owned by EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company - 80%) and BAE Systems (British Electronic Electronic - 20%), Supermarine, manufacturer of the iconic 2nd World War Spitfire being a predecessor company of BAE Systems.
Although Airbus is better known for manufacturing large passenger and military aircraft, its Corporate Jets division markets and modifies new aircraft for both private and corporate customers.
Beechcraft are a well-known Kansas-based American manufacturer and supplier of a wide range of light single-engine to twin-engine turboprop aircraft for training, general and military aviation needs. Founded in 1932, ironically in an unused Cessna factory, they are now with Cessna as part of Textron Aviation.
The company’s famous Beechcraft Model 18 aircraft won five production efficiency accolades in 1942, and both it, and the Beechcraft Bonanza first produced in 1947, in derivative form, are still in popular demand and use today. Following bankruptcy in 2012, the famous Hawker Beechcraft name was ‘retired’ in favour of Beechcraft Corporation, having fully recovered under the ownership of Textron.
The large multinational Chicago-based (having moved from Seattle in 2001) Boeing Corporation is world-famous for its “7” series aircraft and the instantly recognisable “Jumbo” jet. Its 707, launched in 1958, was the USA’s first commercial jet airliner. With its roots in a Seattle shipyard, the company had originally established itself as a major seaplane manufacturer during its early commercial life.
While the company is now one of the largest aircraft manufacturers in the world, it is not often realised that it is also the second largest aerospace and defense contractor in the world as well as one the USA’s biggest exporters based on dollar value revenue.
Boeing are currently collaborating in areas relating to jet biofuels and electric propulsion at their response to helping reduce the 11% of greenhouse gases that are currently emitted by US transportation.
Canadian company Bombardier Aerospace is acknowledged as the third largest manufacturer of aircraft behind Boeing and Airbus. It also makes trains and buses, and aircraft account for half of the company’s revenue.
The company is perhaps best known as manufacturer of the (Bombardier) Learjet having bought the eponymous company out of bankruptcy in 1990. It also acquired Short Brothers of Belfast in 1989 and the Boeing subsidiary de Havilland Aircraft of Canada in 1992.
Bombardier also manufacture the Challenger business jet series, the Bombardier Global series as well as commercial jets, turboprops and amphibious aircraft.
Dating back to 1911 when Clyde Cessna was building and flying his own wooden-fabric aircraft. Cessna went on to sell more aircraft than any other manufacturer during the 1960’s and 1970’s. This success is partially explained by the company in the mid-20th Century being the first aircraft manufacturer in the world to market its aircraft in the same way the motor manufacturers of Detroit were marketing their cars.
This was all despite the derision they attracted from other aircraft manufacturers.
Cessna have a wide range of predominantly executive aircraft from high-wing, single-engine four-seater craft to twin-engined, long-range business jets. The company is now a subsidiary of Textron.
Dessault Aviation was founded in 1929. Although very much a military aircraft manufacturer, it’s most famous product being the Mirage fighter jet, the civilian division is responsible for the celebrated Falcon and Mystere family of executive and corporate aircraft.
In particular, the company’s Falcon business jet range is extremely popular and highly regarded, having very flexible seat configurations and high levels of luxury ideally suited for the demands of executive air transport provision.
The company has ridden somewhat of a roller coaster of past ownership interests, with private investors and the French Government alike taking a financial stake in the company at various times during its existence. It is currently half owned by the Dassault Group and the Airbus Group, having been part of EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company) up to 2014.
Embraer is a São Paulo State-based Brazilian manufacturer of commercial, executive, military and agricultural aircraft. Along with its main rival, Bombardier, the company competes for third largest aircraft manufacturer in the world after Airbus and Boeing. It was solely a domestic manufacturer until the mid-1970‘s.
The Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia, developed in 1985 was the first of the company’s long line of extremely successful small airliners. It also produced some 2,500 licence-built Piper light aircraft between 1974 and 2000.
It was in the 1990’s that the company shifted its emphasis from military aircraft to focus on small commercial aircraft, larger regional-style airliners and smaller business jets
Georgia-based Gulfstream Aerospace, founded in 1958, produces the famous “G” plus three number designated aircraft. Their first 12-seat passenger Grumman Gulfstream was the very first of its type to be built specifically for business travel.
The Gulfstream G650 business jet broke new ground when launched in 2008, offering the almost “perfect business aircraft” configuration, with its long range of 7,000 nautical miles (12,964 km), fast speed of Mach 0.85 (or Mach 0.925 for shorter distances), large cabin and most advanced cockpit yet. It can fly at 51,000 feet (15,544 m), thus avoiding airline-traffic congestion and hostile weather.
The company’s current range of eponymously-named aircraft are predominantly twin-engine business jets, although it is said that they have been working on a supersonic business jet for the past few years.
Italian aerospace company Piaggio, established in 1884, is one of the oldest airplane manufacturers in the world. It has a subsidiary located at West Palm Beach in Florida.
It is somewhat unique amongst manufacturers in that while it makes airplanes, it also manufactures parts and maintains, repairs and overhauls jet, turbo shaft and turboprop engines and has partner agreements with Rolls-Royce, Pratt and Whitney and Honeywell.
Its eponymously-named model production line-up includes one-seat specialist professional, research and military aircraft all the way up to business jets, amphibians and heavy bombers.
Established in Switzerland in 1939, the company started business assembling reconnaissance biplanes form spares and performing overhaul work on other aircraft. Their Swiss plant in Stans gained fame for being a location in the James Bond film Goldfinger.
In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, the company did much work on STOL (short take-off and landing) light civil aircraft, and over the years it has been a pioneer in turbo-prop aircraft production.
The Pilatus PC-12, single-engine turboprop passenger and cargo aircraft model is very popular with corporate transport and regional airline operators.