THE BEST TYPES OF PRIVATE PLANES & JETS EXPLAINED

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT PLANE FOR YOUR PRIVATE CHARTER FLIGHT

TYPES OF PRIVATE PLANES AND JETS EXPLAINED

Different types of private planes cater to different groups, journeys, and individual requirements and are very different from commercial airliners. From economical propeller planes to long-range jets, here’s what you should know before booking a private charter flight

What types of private planes should I choose for my flights?

The three main types of planes are classified by their engines:

  • Piston-engines
  • Turboprops
  • Jets

There are a few factors to keep in mind among different types of private planes when choosing the right aircraft for your trips: The route and distance of the flight, the number and combined weight of the passengers, the type and weight of the baggage, your budget, and the personal needs of the passengers.

Weight: Your pilot will need the total combined weight of all the passengers and luggage. Each plane has a maximum useful load, which includes the weight of the pilots, passengers, baggage, and fuel. Weight has a considerable impact on the safety and integrity of the aircraft; it affects the plane’s speed, maneuverability, and balance. A miscalculation in weight can be dangerous.

Storage: Space is also a factor. Have boxes of materials to distribute at a conference or a few sets of golf clubs? Be mindful of their weight and how much space they take up. Ask if the plane can accommodate large, awkward belongings like skis, strollers, golf bags, or musical instruments.

Budget: Your budget must be taken into consideration. A large private jet with a comfortable, luxurious interior, catering, and ample storage is going to be considerably more expensive than a smaller turboprop.

Passenger comfort factors:

  • Is there a separate, private lavatory?
  • Is there food and  drinks on board?
  • How close can the plane get to the final destination?
  • How much personal space does each passenger require?
  • Will there be a flight attendant on board?
  • Will the plane be quiet enough to hold a meeting while in the air?

How are Jets Different from Piston Engine Planes and Turboprops?

While the propellers on piston engine planes and turboprops are visible on the outside of the plane, jet engines, or gas turbines, house their fan blades within the engine.

Piston Engine Air Taxis

Piston engine planes are compact and operate on an internal combustion system similar to the ones found in most vehicles. They have single or double engine configurations.

The three main classes of private planes are classified by their engine types:

  • Piston-engines
  • Turboprops
  • Jets

Single Piston Propeller Planes

  • Power: Single piston engine
  • Maximum altitude: 15,000 ft
  • Maximum range: 300-400 miles
  • Passenger Capacity: 2-6
  • Advantages:
    • Cost-effective
    • Consumes less fuel
    • Small enough to land in any airport with short runways
    • Greater useful load than twin engine planes
  • Disadvantages:
    • Longer flights may require refueling
    • Tight cabin space
    • Noisy interior

Double Piston Propeller Planes

  • Power: Twin piston engine
  • Altitude ceiling: 15,000 ft
  • Maximum range: 400-920 miles
  • Passenger Capacity: 2-6
  • Advantages:
    • Two engines should one fail
    • More powerful
    • Faster takeoff
  • Disadvantages:
    • Higher operating costs
    • Increased engine weight means decreased useful load

Turboprops

Turboprops are  lighter than jets but more substantial than piston engine aircraft.

Considered the most flexible plane in the sky, turboprop airplanes use one or more gas-turbine engines to create the energy needed to turn the propellers, moving the plane off the ground and through the air.

  • Power: Turbine propeller engine
  • Altitude ceiling: 35,000 ft
  • Maximum range: 1,000-3,000 miles
  • Passenger Capacity: 6-8
  • Advantages:
    • Great useful load than in piston engine planes
    • Greater fuel efficiency than a jet
    • Quiet interior
    • Many offer a luxurious cabin space
    • Can land in most general aviation airports and even on grass fields or gravel runways
    • For short flights, an economical alternative to a jet
  • Disadvantages:
    • Low altitude flying which can mean turbulence 
    • Slower cruising speed than a jet
    • Less efficient and cost-effective at higher speeds

Jets

While the propellers on piston engine planes and turboprops are visible on the outside of the plane, jet engines, or gas turbines, house their fan blades within the engine. Jets have become one of the most popular types of private planes over the last few years, especially with the different types of private jets available.

  • Power: Turbofan jets
  • Altitude ceiling: 41,000-45,000 ft
  • Maximum range: 1,000-74,000 miles 
  • Passenger Capacity: 6-19
  • Advantages:
    • Faster and quieter than piston engine and turboprop planes
    • Longer range
    • High altitude flying means less turbulence and greater passenger comfort
    • Cost-effective and fuel-efficient at long distances
    • Many types of jets for different needs.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Less efficient and cost-effective at shorter distances
    • Expensive to charter
    • Require longer, paved runways

EXAMPLE PERFORMANCE OF EACH PLANE CLASS

Piston Engine Propeller Planes

Standard Air Taxis

Piston engine planes are often used as air taxis because they are small, lightweight, and affordable.

Today’s single engine propeller planes are remarkably safe. Engine failure in any plane is extremely rare, and because single engine planes generally fly at low altitudes for short distances, they are nearly always in place for safe emergency landings.

Performance details: (Numbers are an approximation)

  • Speed: 200 mph
  • Range: 920 nautical miles (nm)
  • Passenger capacity: 4-6 passengers
  • Useful load: 1,100 lbs
  • Cabin height: 4 ft
  • Storage space: 10 cu ft
  • Cost-per-hour: $120 – $180  per flying hour

Examples of single piston engine propeller planes: Beechcraft Bonanza, Cessna 172 Skyhawk, Mooney M20, and Piper Cherokee.

cessna 172 skyhawk in flight
Cessna 172 Skyhawk

Light Piston Engine Propeller Planes

Premium Air Taxis

Cirrus sr-22 Light Single Piston Engine Propeller Plane

The small size of the luxury single engine plane means they can land most anywhere, making them perfect for reaching remote locations.

Performance details: (Numbers are an approximation)

  • Speed: 200 mph
  • Range: 1,050 miles
  • Passenger Capacity: 4-6 passengers
  • Useful load: 2,025 lbs
  • Cabin height: 4 ft
  • Storage space: 32 cu ft
  • Cost-per-hour: $500 – $2500 per flying hour

Example of a single engine plane: Cirrus SR22

Midsize Piston Engine Propeller Planes

Midsize Air Taxis

Midsize piston engine planes offer surprisingly smooth rides considering their size. Because of their low operating costs, midsize propeller planes are the most common types of private planes.

Performance Details: (Numbers are approximate)

  • Speed: 211 mph
  • Range: 1,050 miles
  • Passenger Capacity: 4-6 passengers
  • Useful load: 2,025 lbs
  • Cabin height: 3.5 ft
  • Storage space: 32 cu ft
  • Cost-per-hour: $2000 – $3100 per flying hour

Examples of midsize piston engine propeller planes include: Piper Aztec, Cessna 310, Piper Seneca, Beechcraft Baron (Numbers are an approximation)

Piper Seneca at dusk

Large Twin Engine Propeller Planes

Premium Air Taxis

Piper Navajo in flight
Piper Navajo

Twin engine planes pack in twice the power, and therefore have faster pickup, fly at greater speeds, and have an increased useful load.

These desirable planes are still small enough to land on shorter airstrips, which means you can jet off to a secluded island or rural location in comfort.

Performance Details: (Numbers are an approximation)

  • Speed: 200 mph
  • Range: 2200 miles
  • Passenger Capacity: 4-9
  • Useful load: 715 lbs
  • Cabin height: 3.5 ft
  • Storage space: 32 cu ft
  • Cost-per-hour: $2000 – $3000 per flying hour.

Examples of large twin engine propeller planes include: Piper Navajo, Cessna 206 Stationair, Cessna 402, Piper Chieftain, Beechcraft Queen Air.

Premium Air Taxis

Turboprops

With similar amenities and storage space as their jet counterparts, twin engine turboprop planes are an economic alternative for those seeking a versatile plane to comfortably take them up to 500 miles away.

Turboprops can also access short – even unpaved – runways, making them ideal for reaching destinations off the beaten track.

Performance Details: (Numbers are an approximation)

  • Speed: 200 mph
  • Range: 2106 miles
  • Passenger Capacity: 4-8
  • Useful load: 714 lbs
  • Cabin height: 5 ft
  • Storage space: 90 cu ft
  • Cost-per-hour: $2000 – $2800 per flying hour

Examples of twin engine turboprop planes: Cessna Caravan, Beechcraft King Air.

Beechcraft King Air on tarmac
Beechcraft King Air

Very Light Jets

Personal Jets

Very light jets are most commonly used for business travel. These entry-level jets are fast, sleek, compact, and can carry significantly more weight than piston engines and turboprops. They cruise at nearly double the speed of their turboprop cousins and have a markedly wide range; yet, they are small enough to land in most any airfield.

Performance Details: (Numbers are an approximation)

  • Speed: 500 mph
  • Range: 1100 – 1300 miles
  • Passenger Capacity: 4-5
  • Useful load: 3810
  • Cabin height: 4.6 ft
  • Storage space: 44 – 74 cu ft
  • Cost-per-hour: $2,000 – $4,000 per flying hour

Examples of very light private jets include: Eclipse, Embraer Phenom, Citation Mustang

an embraer phenom 100 flying over hillsides, seen from above

Light Jets

a cessna citation cj1 private jet flying over mountains

Light jets provide a slight step up in comfort and amenities from their very light counterparts. For instance, many light private jets are equipped with a lavatory, while very light jets offer curtained-off toilets or forego access to bathroom facilities completely.

They are ideal executive travel planes and are perfect for longer, non-stop trips. Amenities may include a sleeping area, a galley kitchen, private lavatory, and entertainment systems.

Their ample storage space makes them perfect for groups heading on skiing or golfing excursions.

Performance Details: (Numbers are an approximation)

  • Speed: 475-520 mph
  • Range: 2,000 miles
  • Passenger Capacity: 6-9
  • Useful load: 3810
  • Cabin height: 5.5 ft
  • Storage space: 196 cu ft
  • Cost-per-hour: $2,900 – $5,800 per flying hour

Examples of light private jets include: Cessna Citation CJ1, Cessna Citation i, Cessna Citation ii, Embraer Phenom 300, Pilatus PC-24, Beechcraft Beechjet, Hondajet

Midsize Jets

Midsize and super midsize jets provide a comfortable, modern workspace.

They only require a runway distance between 5,000 and 6,000 feet and can land in most regional and international airports.

Performance Details: (Numbers are an approximation)

  • Speed: 527 mph
  • Range: 6,500-7,500 miles
  • Passenger Capacity: 8-13
  • Useful load: 1,400 lbs
  • Cabin height: 6 ft
  • Storage space: 195 cu ft
  • Cost-per-hour: $4000- $9000 per flying hour

Examples of midsize jet taxis include: Hawker 4000, Cessna Citation XLS+, Cessna Citation Longitude, Dassault Falcon 50, Bombardier Challenger, Learjet 55

Hawker 4000
Hawker 4000

Large Jets

Dassault Falcon
Dassault Falcon

The elite choice in-plane charters, large or “heavy” jets are perfect for productive work sessions, offering large cabins with separate living areas that may include an entertainment area, a private bathroom, and a galley kitchen.

They can land in airports that have runway lengths of at least 6200 feet. These long-range and ultra-long-range jets are fast, fuel-efficient, and can take you across the Atlantic in comfort.

Performance Details: (Numbers are an approximation)

  • Speed: 527 mph
  • Range: 6,500-7,500 miles
  • Passenger Capacity: 8-20
  • Useful load: 6,500 lbs
  • Cabin height: 6.5 ft
  • Storage space: 195 cu ft
  • Cost-per-hour: $4000- $9000 per flying hour

Examples of large private jets include: Gulfstream G650, Bombardier Global Express, Dassault Falcon 7X, Embraer Legacy 650- 

This guide should help you understand the different types of private aircraft available and how to select one based on your trip. See how easy it is to book a trip, or give us a call.

The commercial options for 4 people and trade show luggage from Long Beach to San Luis Obispo... lordy... This made it an incredible no-brainer, as Linear Air actually came in *cheaper* than the commercial options. We would have had to stay an extra night, then either get up to LAX for a late afternoon direct flight, or down to SNA for an early morning connection through PHX.
Jeremiah Farmer
Jeremiah Farmer
CEO
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