Business jets are the crème of the crop of the civilian aviation, providing exclusive speed and luxury for those who can afford it. But just as those flying them, bizjets are not created equal: some of them are faster than others.
There is a lot of competition regarding the speed of private jets, as every minute saved on traveling can mean millions of dollars for high-level executives, officials and celebrities that use this mode of transportation. At least several manufacturers are claiming to produce the fastest business jet, citing different numbers. Aviation enthusiasts compile countless lists, comparing unproven figures and putting their favorite aircraft on top.
Several things have to be understood to make sense of all this mess. Business jets, just as other aircraft, have several “top speeds” depending on the mode of operation.
There is cruise speed – the speed at which the aircraft usually flies to save fuel and reach maximum flight distance. There is high cruise speed – the speed at which the aircraft can fly if there is a need to be faster, but the range is sacrificed this way due to higher fuel consumption. And then there is the maximum speed – the very fastest the aircraft can fly without falling apart or damaging its engines, but this mode of operation is not normal and cannot be sustained over long periods of time.
These three parameters can be very different or overlap, and there is no telling which one of them is more important. Both manufacturers and leasing companies usually list the maximum speed, because it is a higher number, but the cruise speed is what most of their customers will ever experience. On the other hand, for those able to afford it, there is nothing to prevent making test runs and pushing their private aircraft to the limit – just like many would do with their new car.
Also, many companies choose to list their aircraft’s maximum Mach number, meaning the fraction of the speed of sound the jet can achieve. The actual speed, in kilometers or miles per hour, can differ dramatically depending on altitude, weather conditions and so on. For this list, we took the maximal true airspeed of the aircraft, at its cruising altitude, provided by either the manufacturer or the leasing companies. In cases when those numbers are conflicting, we chose to trust the most reported one.
So, what are the ten currently available fastest business jets?
10. Bombardier Challenger 600 series: 890 kmh / 553 mph
(Image: Maartin Visser / Wikipedia)
Bombardier’s family of models 600, 601, 604, 605 and 650 are some of the older aircraft on this list, as 600 first flew in 1978. The 650 is still offered by the company, upgraded to the latest technological standard and boosting some of the lowest operating costs in the class. While the aircraft can be pushed to 890 kilometers per hour, its cruise speed is rather modest 854 kmh.
9. Dassault Falcon 2000: 893 kmh / 554 mph
(Image: Tomás Del Coro / Wikipedia)
French company Dassault currently offers two variants of their Falcon 2000 platform: the “budget” 2000S and the long-range 2000LXS. Both of them are slightly faster than Bombardier Challenger 600, although their cruise speed is marginally lower, at 851 kmh.
8. Cessna Citation Longitude: 895 kmh / 556 mph
The latest addition to Cessna’s Citation business jet family (before the Hemisphere gets completed), Longitude has the high cruising speed of 895 kmh, faster than the maximum speed of many other business jets. It is completely possible than the actual maximum speed of the aircraft is quite a bit higher, but the company chooses not to disclose that.