““[Bill Gates] has been historically one of my best supporters…One of my favorite e-mails he ever sent me…I proposed this crazy project. And he sent back this two-line response: ‘This has got to be the craziest thing you’ve ever suggested. Please proceed.’” ”
The Major Business Airplane Manufacturers at A Glance
Although the rate of growth of the business aircraft manufacturing industry has slowed, it continues to generate billions in economic output each year and supports tens of thousands of jobs. Here are the key facts about each of the major aircraft manufacturers.
Airbus entered the business aircraft market in 1997 with the Airbus Corporate Jet (ACJ), which sold initially for $35 million. Early on, ACJ sales lagged those of the Boeing Business Jet, which had been introduced the year prior. More recently, ACJ sales have eclipsed the BBJ’s. Airbus has added the longer-fuselage A320 and a shorter variant, the A318, to its executive lineup. For customers requiring the ultimate in space and long-distance capability, Airbus also offers executive versions of its A330, A340, A350 and A380 widebody jetliners.
- Business aircraft sales–2010: 13 units, $1.025 billion; 2009: 11 units, $738 million
- Parent company– EADS
- Business aircraft models–A318, A319 Airbus Corporate Jet, A320
BOEING BUSINESS JETS
A partnership between Boeing and General Electric resulted in the BBJ, which in 1996 combined components of the 737-700 and the larger 737-800. As many as 10 auxiliary fuel tanks can be installed, giving the BBJ an unrefueled range of 6,196 nautical miles with eight passengers. A larger, stretched version, the BBJ2, boasts 25 percent more cabin capacity, but offers slightly reduced range. In 2005, Boeing announced the even larger BBJ3. All Boeing jets from the 737 to its largest and newest 747-8 and the 787 are available in VIP versions.
- Business aircraft sales–2010: 10 units, $579 million; 2009: four units, $206.5 million
- Parent company–Boeing
- Business aircraft models–BBJ, BBJ2, BBJ3
Bombardier started out as a snowmobile manufacturer in 1942 and has grown into one of the world’s largest producers of business jets and regional airliners. Over the years, the company has expanded mainly through acquisitions, buying brands such as Canadair and Learjet. In the last 15 years, the Montreal-based manufacturer has introduced several business jets, including the Learjet 40 and 45, Challenger 300 and 605 and Global 5000 and Express XRS. The forthcoming Learjet 85 will be the first all-composite business jet. The ultra-long-range Global 7000 and 8000 models will join the fleet in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
- Business aircraft sales–2010: 150 units, $4.909 billion; 2009: 173 units, $4.873 billion
- Parent company–Bombardier
- Business aircraft models–Learjet 40XR, 45XR, 60XR; Challenger 300, 605, 850, 870, 890; Global 5000, Express XRS
Cessna built its first airplane in 1927 and has since rolled out more than 190,000. Of the roughly 16,000 business jets in operation worldwide, Cessna has produced a third of them. The U.S. company’s nine business jet models range from the Mustang very light jet to the world’s fastest business jet, the Mach 0.92 Citation X, which will soon spawn the even faster Citation Ten.
- Business aircraft sales–2010: 273 units, $1.538 billion; 2009: 289 units, $2.455 billion (financial totals include piston-aircraft sales)
- Parent company–Textron
- Business aircraft models–Caravan; Citation Mustang, CJ1+, CJ2+, CJ3, CJ4, Encore+, XLS+, Sovereign, X
Dassault was already renowned for its Mirage fighter jets when it introduced the Falcon 20 business twinjet in 1963. Today Dassault Industries, EADS and a group of private investors own Dassault Aviation. Dassault offers the Falcon 900 and 2000 family of business jets, as well as the Falcon 7X trijet, featuring the latest in fly-by-wire flight-control technology.
- Business aircraft sales–2010: 95 units, $3,928 billion; 2009: 77 units, $3.063 billion
- Parent company–Dassault Aviation
- Business aircraft models–Falcon 2000LX, 900LX/EX, 7X
Embraer has been building airplanes for more than 30 years, but it wasn’t until 1994 when the Brazilian government privatized the company that the business took off. Today, Embraer is the world’s fourth-largest commercial aircraft manufacturer. Its ERJ 135/145 airframe served as the foundation for the company’s first business jet, the Legacy 600, which was introduced in 1999. In the past decade, Embraer has developed the Phenom 100 and 300 small-cabin jets, the Legacy 450 and 500 midsize jets and the Lineage 1000 bizliner. The longer-range Legacy 650 was certified last year.
- Business aircraft sales–2010: 145 units, $1.249 billion; 2009: 122 units, $1.108 billion
- Parent company–Embraer
- Business aircraft models–Phenom 100, 300; Legacy 600, 650; Lineage 1000
Large-cabin Gulfstreams are recognizable for their big oval windows and bullet noses. Today, Gulfstream’s line of business jets also includes the midsize G150 and super-midsize G200. Gulfstream is developing the G280, which will be an updated and improved G200, and the G650. The flagship G650 will have a larger and wider cabin than the G550, the U.S. manufacturer’s current top model, and be able to fly 7,000 nautical miles unrefueled. The G650 will have a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.925, making it the world’s fastest civil airplane.
- Business aircraft sales–2010: 99 units, $3.984 billion; 2009: 94 units, $3.967 billion
- Parent company–General Dynamics
- Business aircraft models–G150, G200, G350, G450, G500, G550
Hawker Beechcraft combines two of aviation’s most storied names. In 1937, Walter Beech introduced the Model 18, arguably the first cabin-class twin-engine business airplane. In 1964, Beech debuted the twin-turboprop King Air, which remains in production. Raytheon bought Beech in 1980 and added the UK’s Hawker brand to the fold. It sold the company in 2007 to an investment group led by Goldman Sachs. Hawker Beechcraft pioneered the use of composites in business aircraft construction, including in the current Premier 1A and Hawker 4000 business jets.
- Business aircraft sales–2010: 163 units, $1.584 billion; 2009: 217 units, $1.989 billion (financial totals include piston aircraft sales)
- Parent company–GS Capital Partners and Onex Partners
- Business aircraft models–King Air C90GTx, B200GT, 350i; Premier IA, Hawker 400XP, 750, 900XP, 4000
PIAGGIO AERO INDUSTRIES
The sleek, pusher-turboprop Piaggio Avanti was developed in response to the energy crisis of the 1970s. Italian airframe maker Piaggio teamed with Learjet on a design that became the P.180 Avanti. Learjet dropped out of the program, but Piaggio soldiered on, delivering the first Avanti in 1990. In 2005, it updated the aircraft and branded it the Avanti II. Piaggio has confirmed plans to develop a business jet but has revealed few details.
- Business aircraft sales–2010: 11 units, $79 million; 2009: 24 units, $173 million
- Parent company–Piaggio, jointly owned by Tata, Mubadala Development and the Ferrari and di Mase families
- Business aircraft models–Avanti II
PILATUS BUSINESS AIRCRAFT
Switzerland’s Pilatus has been building airplanes since 1939. It is the world’s largest manufacturer of single-engine turboprops. The company’s top-selling model, the PC-12, was certified in 1994 and became an instant hit, thanks to its ruggedness, spacious cabin and unmatched performance. The newest version, the PC-12NG, features a more powerful engine and modern avionics. Pilatus engineers are now designing the Pilatus PC-24, which likely will be a twin-engine turboprop.
- Business aircraft sales–2010: 79 units, $346 million; 2009: 100 units, $403 million
- Parent company–Pilatus Aircraft, Switzerland
- Business aircraft models–PC-12NG
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