The Most Popular Business Jets -- This Is How the Elite Like to Fly

Cessna, Gulfstream, and Bombardier battle it out for jet domination.

Aug 18, 2014 at 2:02PM

Bombardier Global
The Global 6000. Photo credit: Bombardier 

At first glance, it might seem like business jets are nothing more than a luxury perk for high-profile executives. But that would be missing the much bigger picture. Business aviation contributes $150 billion annually to the U.S. economy, and employs more that 1.2 million people in the U.S -- and those aren't the only good things.

As defense spending wanes, defense companies' commercial revenue sources are becoming that much more important. So, let's take a look at the three most popular business jet manufacturers, their most popular business jets for 2013, and why they're important.  



Cessna 525C Citation CJ4. Photo credit: Peter Bakema via Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to business jets, Textron's (NYSE:TXT) Cessna segment is usually flying high. Unfortunately, 2013 saw Cessna fall to third place thanks to lower deliveries -- in 2013 Cessna delivered 139 business jets. Still, third place is still a pretty good ranking, so let's take a look at Cessna's most delivered jet, the 525C Citation CJ4, which had a total of 33 deliveries in 2013. 

Capable of carrying 10 passengers, the Citation CJ4 has a maximum cruise speed of 519 mph, and a max range of 2,192 nautical miles. But the best part is being able to fly in what Cessna describes as "ultimate luxury." Specifically, that includes dual-zone temperature control, LED lighting, the award-winning Venue TM HD integrated cabin management and entertainment suite, wide reclining leather seats, and advanced soundproofing. The price for this level of flying comfort? Approximately $9.05 million in 2013, according to Corporate Jet Investor. 

More importantly, because Textron is a multi-industry company that receives a fair amount of revenue from defense spending (revenues from its Bell Helicopter segment accounted for 37% of Textron's total revenues in 2013, and 14% of its total revenue come from the sale of other military equipment) its Cessna segment has, and will continue to be, an important contributor to Textron's bottom line -- in 2013, Cessna accounted for approximately 23% of Textron's total revenues. 



Gulfstream G550. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Unlike Cessna, 2013 was a great year for General Dynamics' (NYSE:GD) subsidiary, Gulfstream. In fact, with a total of 144 business jet deliveries, 2013 was Gulfstream's second-best year on record, according to Wichita Business Journal. What helped drive Gulfstream's deliveries? A combination of Gulfstream's large cabin business jets, the Gulfstream 450, 550, and 650 -- Gulfstream doesn't split business jet deliveries beyond large and midsize cabin aircraft -- so let's take a look at these impressive jets.

Capable of carrying up to 16 passengers, the G450 has a normal cruise speed of 528 mph, and a max range of 4,350 nautical miles. The G550, on the other hand, can carry up to 18 passengers, and has a normal cruise speed of 528 mph. Plus, it can travel 6,750 nm. Finally, the G650 can carry up to 18 people, but its normal cruise speed is 562 mph, with a range of 7,000 nm. 

All three jets come with Rolls-Royce engines, the option to choose between a number of different cabin layouts, advanced satellite communication systems, wireless local networks, large comfortable seating areas, advanced soundproofing, and comprehensive entertainment systems. The price to ride in Gulfstream style? Around $38.9 million for the G450, according to, to around $65 million for the G650 according to Business Insider.  

More importantly for General Dynamics, as defense budgets shrink, business jet have become that much more important to General Dynamics' bottom line. In fact, Bloomberg reports that General Dynamics has been actively increasing its investment into its Gulfstream business, and in 2013, that resulted in Gulfstream delivering 20% of business jets worldwide. That's double its share in 2008.  



Global 5000. Photo credit: Bombardier

Like Cessna, Bombardier (NASDAQOTH:BDRAF) didn't have the best year in 2013. But with 180 business jet deliveries, it still managed to come in first for highest business jet deliveries in 2013. This was thanks in no small part to 62 deliveries of its Global 5000 and 6000 jets.  

Both the Global 5000 and 6000 are considered large business jets, and have a maximum cruise speed of 581 mph. Additionally, the Global 5000 can carry up to 15 passengers, and the 6,000 can carry up to 16 passengers. Further, the Global 5000 has a range of 5,200 nm and the Global 6,000 has a range of 6,000 nm. 

Moreover, both the Global 5,000 and 6,000 have Rolls-Royce engines, high-speed satellite communication systems, the latest performance-based navigation systems, optimized comfort and superior cabin spaciousness, and impressive entertainment systems. The approximate price for a Global 5,000? $48 million, according to, while Forbes places the approximate price of a Global 6,000 at around $60 million. 

The good news for Bombardier is that while it does provide modified commercial and business aircraft to the government and other organizations, most of its aerospace revenue comes from the sale of typical business aircraft. In fact, business aircraft accounted for 54% of Bombardier's total aerospace revenue in 2013, while typical commercial aircraft revenue accounted for 13%. As such, reduced government spending is unlikely to have a large impact on Bombardier's bottom line. 

Why this matters

Business jets are an incredibly luxurious way to travel. But when compared to commercial airline travel, there are more reasons than just luxury to fly on a private jet. According to the National Business Aviation Association, some of business aviation's advantages include a small carbon footprint, improving noise and emissions, and access to more locations. Business jets can land at over 5,000 public-use facilities -- 10 times the number of U.S. airports. This often equates to a more direct route, and less time spent traveling, to a destination.

Plus, the National Business Aviation Association states: "The vast majority of [general aviation] aircraft used for business purposes worldwide are manufactured, operated, serviced and maintained in the U.S. Even the relatively small numbers of airplanes that are manufactured outside the U.S. often are 'completed' (outfitted) in the U.S. with American-made avionics, electronics, systems, engines, paint, interiors and other aircraft components." As such, business jets are an important contributor to the U.S. economy.

Moreover, business jet segments are becoming more important to companies that are experiencing a loss in revenue due to reduced government spending. 

You can't afford to miss this
"Made in China" -- an all too familiar phrase. But not for much longer: There's a radical new technology out there, one that's already being employed by the U.S. Air Force, BMW and even Nike. Respected publications like The Economist have compared this disruptive invention to the steam engine and the printing press; Business Insider calls it "the next trillion dollar industry." Watch The Motley Fool's shocking video presentation to learn about the next great wave of technological innovation, one that will bring an end to "Made In China" for good. Click here!

Katie Spence has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Dynamics and Textron. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.


Compare Brokers