Private jet ownership can free you to fly wherever you need to go, on your schedule, in comfort and privacy. Its appeal is undeniable. But owning an aircraft is a significant investment and commitment. Here’s everything you need to know when buying a private jet.
Generally, if you fly fewer than 250 hours annually, you’ll save money by chartering a private jet only when needed. You can enjoy the benefits of private flights without being concerned over the obligations of jet ownership. As an added advantage, you can charter an aircraft that suits your trip. You can charter a smaller jet when you fly alone for a short business trip and a large plane if you’re off on holiday with a large party. There are very few limits to the flight possibilities with a charter arrangement. Of course, you may fly more often than that or simply want to own a jet. If so, the following questions will guide you through the process.
Before deciding on the type of aircraft to buy, you need to know where it will take you. The different jet classes all have pros and cons. Many smaller jets can take off and land virtually anywhere, some even in unpaved airstrips. They can bring you closer to remote locations if those are frequently on your list of destinations. But smaller jets also have lower fuel storage capacity and a shorter range, which means stopping to re-fuel for longer journeys and factoring in those stops as you plan your trip. Large jets can go farther non-stop if your long-distance journeys are frequent, but they require airstrips long enough to land safely and take off, limiting the number of airports you can fly through. Medium jets also vary in capabilities. You should study the specific model jet you’re interested in to ensure it can operate in the flight range and locations you are most likely to fly through often.
Smaller jets have a limited seating capacity and may not have lavatory facilities or other comforts. While they may suit a small group of two to four people on short trips, conditions may be cramped, and luggage capacity limited. Owning and operating a larger jet is ideal if you travel with family or business associates and want all the creature comforts on board, but if you most often fly on your own, it can be expensive. Mid-sized jets adequately bridge the gap between these two extremes, offering many comfort features with decent range and operational capabilities with lower operating costs than large jets. As you narrow your decision, it’s wise to charter a flight on a plane you may want to own to ensure it suits your needs.
You'll need a flight crew unless you’re flying the aircraft yourself. Some jets are qualified for single-pilot operations, but most require two. Hiring pilots can cost anywhere from $86,000 annually to $300,000, depending on qualifications, experience, and specific job requirements. You should employ at least one cabin crew member for mid-sized and larger jets, with salaries ranging from $50,000 to $75,000 annually. Ensuring a qualified crew is essential to flight safety, comfort, and peace of mind. Specialised recruiting agencies and expert brokers can assist you with putting the right team together.
You’ll want to keep your aircraft safe from the elements and in flight-ready conditions when you are not flying, which requires investing in hangarage at a nearby FBO (fixed-based operation) or establishing an aircraft management contract with a qualified facility. A broker can guide you through this decision, considering your needs, and recommend the best option in price and logistics.
Buying a pre-owned aircraft can have advantages in up-front costs and availability, but you should never blindly buy a pre-owned jet. A second-hand jet should undergo a full pre-buy inspection to ensure no maintenance issues might limit the aircraft’s utility or prove expensive to repair. If you want to wait for a new plane direct from the factory, you should plan to arrange charter flights for a while. In the current market, deliveries can take as long as three years.
A pre-owned aircraft may also require a cabin refresh, which a qualified completion centre can perform to your specifications and preferences. A cabin re-design and technology update will increase purchase costs and extend the timeline before the aircraft is available. Even so, it might be the right choice for you, especially if the sale price of the pre-owned aircraft justifies the investment.
The maintenance requirements of a pre-owned jet are a more significant consideration than any cosmetic changes since they affect the aircraft’s ability to fly. The qualified facility performing your pre-buy inspection can offer a full breakdown of necessary repairs, costs and a timeline for completion.
Every aircraft will need routine maintenance to keep it flight-ready. You should make the right connections with a qualified MRO near you. Some aircraft management contracts can include regular maintenance. Engine manufacturers and other equipment also offer power-by-the-hour contracts to help manage ongoing maintenance investments. Consult an expert advisor to determine the best options.
Aircraft financing doesn’t happen overnight. You will want to have made arrangements with a bank long before closing the sale. An expert broker can help you make the right connections to ensure financing isn’t a concern once you’ve made your final jet decision.
You will need to insure your valuable asset against damage and incidents. The level of insurance you choose can vary, as will the associated costs. An expert advisor can help you review options and also offer guidance on the tax and operational implications of where you choose to register your aircraft and take delivery.
Once you’ve found the right jet for your needs and taken delivery, the question becomes: Where will you go next?
Expert LunaSolutions advisors are dedicated to helping you find the right aircraft to suit your business and lifestyle needs and will guide you through every step of this journey to ensure you can enjoy the freedom of private jet ownership.