TYPES OF PRIVATE PLANES & JETS EXPLAINED

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT PLANE FOR YOUR CHARTER FLIGHT

jet

If you’re planning a charter flight or are new to flying private, here’s a look at the main types of private planes, so you can choose the perfect plane for your trip.

Published July 1, 2021

The three main types of private planes used for charter flights are classified by their engine types: piston-engine, turboprops, and jets.

1. Piston Engine Planes

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.

Single Piston Propeller Planes

  • Power: Single piston engine
  • Maximum altitude: 15,000 ft
  • Maximum range: 300-400 miles
  • Passengers: 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
  • Passengers: 2-6
  • Advantages:
    • Two engines should one fail
    • More powerful
    • Faster takeoff
  • Disadvantages:
    • Higher operating costs
    • Increased engine weight means decreased useful load

2. 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 sky.

  • Power: Turbine propeller engine
  • Altitude ceiling: 35,000 ft
  • Maximum range: 1,000-3,000 miles
  • Passengers: 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

3. 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. 

  • Power: Turbofan jets
  • Altitude ceiling: 41,000-45,000 ft
  • Maximum range: 1,000-74,000 miles
  • Passengers: 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

HOW TO CHOOSE A PLANE

We will offer you options to match your number of passengers and desired itinerary. We assume average weights for passengers, and luggage averaging no more than 20 lbs. per person.

Your choices for aircraft type will depend on the distance of your flight and runway length at your chosen airports.

We will offer you aircraft that can meet your trip per your requirements  – so you don’t need to do the research and calculations yourself.

If your flight requirements differ substantially based on number/combined weight of passengers, standard luggage, and flight distance, you will likely find the guide below to be helpful.

There are several factors to consider when choosing the right aircraft: 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.
  • Storage: Have boxes of materials to distribute at a conference or a few sets of golf clubs? Be mindful of their weight and how much room you need to transport them. Ask if the plane can accommodate large, awkward belongings like skis, strollers, golf bags, or musical instruments.
  • Passenger comfort factors
    • Is there a separate, private lavatory?
    • Are there food and/or 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?
  • Budget: Finally, your budget must be taken into consideration. A large private jet with comfortable, luxurious cabins, catering, and ample storage is going to be considerably more expensive than the economical turboprop.

PLANE TYPES WE OFFER

Single Piston Engine Propeller Planes

Standard Air Taxis

Your most cost-effective option. Perfect for short hops when traveling light.

Single 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)
  • Passengers: 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 Single Piston Engine Propeller Planes

Premium Air Taxis

Ideal for short trips, offering extra cabin space and comfort.

cirrus sr22 clouds
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
  • Passengers: 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 SR-22

Midsize Single Piston Engine Propeller Planes

Midsize Air Taxis

Great value for small groups with light luggage.

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

Performance Details: (Numbers are approximate)
  • Speed: 211 mph
  • Range: 1,050 miles
  • Passengers: 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 single 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

Large Air Taxis

Speedy, powerful twin-engine aircraft, perfect for families and groups.

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
  • Passengers: 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 402, Piper Chieftain, Beechcraft Queen Air.

Premium Air Taxis

Turboprops

Your turbo-powered hauler. Fits with moderate groups with luggage, including car seats, strollers, bikes, skis, and golf clubs.

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
  • Passengers: 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

An efficient jet for a small group with a short to medium-range mission. Room for up to 4 passengers.

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
  • Passengers: 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
phenom 100

Light Jets

Medium-range flights with turbojet speed. Cruise above the weather with high-altitude comfort.

Cessna Citation CJ1 e1568986025146
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
  • Passengers: 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: Citation CJ, Embraer Phenom 300, Beechcraft Beechjet, Hondajet

Midsize Jets

Many midsize and most "super midsize" jets have transcontinental range for your group of as many as 10 passengers.

Midsize private 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
  • Passengers: 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 X, Dassault Falcon 50, Bombardier Learjet 55
Hawker 4000
Hawker 4000

Large Jets

Ultra-long range capability with all the comforts for groups as large as 15 or more.

Dassault Falcon
Dassault Falcon
The elite choice in plane charters, large private jets are perfect for productive work sessions, offering spacious cabins with separate living areas that may include an entertainment area, a private bathroom, and a galley kitchen. They can land at airports that have runway lengths of at least 6200 feet.

Performance Details: (Numbers are an approximation)
  • Speed: 527mph
  • Range: 6,500-7,500 nm
  • Passengers: 8-20
  • Useful load: 6500 lbs
  • Cabin height: 6.5 ft
  • Storage space: 195 cu ft
  • Cost-per-hour: $4,000 – $10,000 per flying hour
Examples of large private jets include: Gulfstream G6, Embraer Legacy 650, Dassault Falcon 900

From short excursions to transcontinental flights, there is a plane that will fit your needs. Even the most economical private plane can get you to your destination comfortably and securely.

The fastest way to travel is also the safest way to travel. Charter your private plane with confidence, and get where you need to go faster.

From short excursions to transcontinental flights, there is a plane that will fit your needs. Even the most economical private plane can get you to your destination comfortably and securely. The fastest way to travel is also the safest way to travel. Charter your private plane with confidence, and get where you need to go faster.
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