With new and used bizjet sales trending upward, clean sheet designs and enhanced models are joining the global fleet.
By Brent Bundy
Phoenix Police Officer-Pilot (ret)
AS350, AW119, Cessna 210/182/172
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on all facets of aviation. However, not all of it has been negative. While multiple airlines faced reorganization and bankruptcy, the sale of preowned private jets flourished, with year-on-year gains of 5–10%.
Although new jet sales dipped approximately 20% for 2020, the numbers were trending upward in the final months of the year, and 2021 sales figures are expected to return to near 2019 levels. While the events of the past year could not have been predicted, what can be foreseen is the development and announcement of new business aircraft.
Most of these new products were planned and anticipated long before recent circumstances. So, what can be expected over the next few years? Let’s take a look at what the future holds for the newest business aircraft coming to market.
With an impressive existing lineup of business jets, from the Learjet 75 Liberty to the Challenger 350/650 series and on to the Global suite of 5500/6500/7500s, Bombardier has something for the needs of most markets. With newer models from competitors offering even more range, the release of the Global 8000 has been anticipated for years.
Sales of the Global 7500 have been strong, which may push the 8000 off even further, or perhaps lead to the program’s cancellation. Per Bombardier, the 8000, when it debuts, is expected to have more power and range than the 7500, albeit slightly smaller in exterior dimensions but a slight bump up in cabin height and width. When the 8000 comes to market, pricing will probably top the 7500’s $73-million base cost.
Another update to a popular model is the recently-announced Cirrus G2+ Vision Jet. Working off the original single-engine Vision Jet formula, produced since late 2016, and the Generation 2 (G2) version that received certification in early 2019, the G2+ is an enhancement rather than a remake.
The sole Williams FJ33-5A engine has been tuned to produce up to 20% better take-off performance, Gogo inflight Wi-Fi has been added, and a variety of new paint liveries are optional for the carbon fiber aircraft.
This new take on Cirrus’s jet-powered offering will be available soon, with an expected base price tag slightly above the current model’s $2.3 million.
After development issues of the long-anticipated Falcon 5X eventually led to the cancellation of the program in 2017, Dassault was expected to follow up with an even stronger contender. The unveiling of the Falcon 6X in early 2018 did not disappoint.
The first of what the company declares a new category, the ultra-widebody business jet, the 6X boasts a cabin that is over 40 ft long, 6.5 ft high and 8.5 ft wide – the broadest in a purpose-built business jet.
The fly-by-wire (FBW) twin jet will have a 5500-nm range, room for 16 passengers, and the most advanced cockpit technology available.
First flight was in early 2021 with planned entry into service in 2022. When the $47-million 6X rolls out of the factory, it will be the largest Falcon available. But not for long. On the heels of the first flight of the 6X was the unveiling of Dassault’s next foray into the ultra-long-range market – the Falcon 10X.
Clearly marketed to compete with the current and upcoming aircraft from competitors, Dassault promises a 7500-nm range, a cabin larger than the 6X’s in all dimensions, unparalleled levels of luxury, and the most advanced flight deck in the industry. Entry into service is expected in 2025 with a price tag of $75 million.
A recent trend in the private jet arena is pairing popular aircraft with equally popular luxury brands. Embraer recently joined this movement with Duet – its match up with Porsche. The combination includes a limited-edition Phenom 300E and a Porsche 911 Turbo S.
While there are no performance upgrades added to the 300E – refreshed in 2018 as the Enhanced version – both car and plane receive matching paint schemes and exclusive interior enhancements, including similar seating.
In addition, the buyer will receive a custom 3-piece luggage set and Swiss wristwatch. The first Duet was delivered at the beginning of July 2021. There will be a total of 10 sets priced at $10.9 million.
Gulfstream’s G700 is one of the most anticipated business jets coming to market in the near future. Unveiled at the 2019 NBAA-BACE in Las Vegas NV, the G700 carries on Gulfstream’s long tradition of ground-breaking aircraft.
The ultra-long-range twin jet takes the record-setting G650ER and expands on an already impressive résumé. Offering a 5-zone cabin with 20 classic Gulfstream oval windows in a fuselage 10 ft longer than the G650ER’s, the FBW jet is expected to have a minimum 7500-nm range for up to 19 passengers and a crew of 2–4.
The company’s award-winning Symmetry Flight Deck with every imaginable safety feature will be standard fare. Flight tests began in February 2020, and Gulfstream hopes to have its $75-million flagship in the hands of customers some time next year.
Another improvement on an existing design is the latest from Honda Aircraft Company. Following the incremental upgrades of the original model that was first delivered in 2015, the latest adaptation – the HondaJet Elite S – was announced in May 2021.
It adds performance and aesthetic upgrades to the Elite model, including increased MTOW, avionics improvements, and new paint colors.
The new capabilities allow for an added passenger, bringing the total to 6 and a pilot. Also included is a new nosewheel steering augmentation system to assist pilot workload. Deliveries of the $5.4-million twin jet began in June 2021.
The Swiss aircraft maker delivered its first PC-24 twinjet in February 2018 and already has more than 100 examples in the air. Feedback from the loyal Pilatus customer base has led to a recent release of avionics and cabin upgrades.
For the pilots, there are updates to the Honeywell ACE avionics package, SiriusXM weather improvements, better tactile feedback controls, several autopilot upgrades, and certified weight-saving True Blue Power Li-ion batteries.
The touchscreen controller from the PC-12NGX is also brought over. Passengers will be treated to improved executive lay-flat seats, and a galley option in lieu of the left-hand-side coat closet.
Enhancements will start with all new PC-24s produced in July 2021, and many upgrades are available as retrofits. Base price is approximately $11 million.
Although the status of the flagship Citation Hemisphere is currently listed as “on hold,” Textron Aviation is not sitting by idly. Earlier this year, the latest refreshed iteration of the Citation lineup was unveiled. The CJ4 Gen2 took the winning formula of the CJ4 and incorporated multiple cabin improvements.
These include a lower entry, new seating options, upgraded galley, enhanced lighting, overhead skylights, and several passenger technologies. With seating for up to 10 and a 1926-nm range, deliveries of the $10.75-million CJ4 Gen2 have already begun.
As evidenced by this impressive list of impending aircraft coming to market, the aviation industry continues to show a tenacity not always seen in other fields. Keep an eye out for these and other incredible jets taking to the skies in the years to come.
Brent Bundy served as a police officer with the Phoenix Police Dept for 29 years. He flew with the PHX Air Support Unit for 19 years, and is a helicopter pilot with nearly 4000 hrs of flight time. He has flown Airbus AS350B3s for the helicopter side of Phoenix PD’s air unit, and Cessna 172, 182s and 210s for the fixed-wing side.