Air apparent: After 15 years, a new most popular private jet
Embraer Phenom 300
Brazil’s Embraer SA just toppled Textron Inc.’s Cessna as the producer of the most-flown private jet in the U.S. after a 15-year reign.
The Embraer Phenom 300, a medium-size jet that seats as many as nine passengers, had more than 360,000 takeoffs and landings at U.S. airports during the trailing 12 months through August, about 1,400 more than the Cessna Citation Excel family of jets. The Excel had been the most operated private jet for about 15 years, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s monthly report of business jet operations.
The Phenom 300 has grown in popularity because it burns less fuel, costs about one-third less and boasts more speed and range than the Citation Excel, said Brian Foley, a private aviation consultant. Those features more than offset the Phenom 300’s smaller cabin space, he wrote in an email.
“It has become a favorite of charter and fractional providers, who fly them much more than the average aircraft operator,” Foley said. There’s a “perception of being purpose-built for high utilization as a result of Embraer’s long airliner heritage.”
In May, Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s NetJets, the largest private-jet operator, announced a deal valued at $5 billion to buy up to 250 Embraer Praetor 500s, a larger craft than the Phenom 300. The transaction includes a service agreement. Last year, the private-jets unit made up about 27% of Embraer’s $4.2 billion of sales.
Except for the span when the now-discontinued Hawker 800 jet was the top private aircraft in the U.S. in 2007 and 2008, a Cessna has held that title in FAA data that goes back to 2001.
Even though Embraer now has bragging rights to the most-flown private jet in the U.S., Textron still dominates on overall aircraft flight hours because of the planemaker’s extensive lineup, from very light jets to the super midsize Longitude. Cessna is also revamping the Excel family with the Citation Ascend, which is expected to begin service in 2025, the company said.
“One of every three business jets worldwide is a Cessna Citation, and product upgrades like these continue to give customers new reasons to choose us for our proven performance, leading technology and unmatched cabin experience,” Textron said in an email.