Companies that Build Business Jets


The history of internet technology curiously parallels the beginning of the aircraft industry. Both industries emerged at the turn of a century. Few thought either would become more than entertainment. The founders were young men who congregated —internet technology companies in Silicon Valley, aviation companies in Wichita, Kansas.

The beginning of aviation in America meant Midwest. The Wright brothers were from Ohio, Charles Lindbergh from Minnesota, Clyde Cessna from Kansas, Allen Paulsen from Iowa, William Boeing from Michigan and Walter Beech from Tennessee. You cannot barnstorm in New York City.

If we include the firm founded by French Canadian Joseph-Armand Bombardier, the companies surviving today that helped found the American aviation industry are responsible for most of the world’s private jets today. The three exceptions are Brazil’s Embraer and Europe’s Airbus and Dassault.

Cessna Aircraft Company

Cessna Aircraft Company was founded in 1927 by Clyde Cessna, son of a Kansas farmer who first exhibited his mechanical genius as a boy improving farm equipment. Wowed by an aerial exhibition in 1910, Cessna would be 31 a year later when he constructed his first airplane out of spruce, linen and a modified motorboat engine. In 1924, he, Lloyd Stearman and Walter Beech co-founded the Travel Air Manufacturing Company in Wichita, Kansas. A design dispute caused Cessna to leave the company two years later and a year after that he founded his own company, also in Wichita.

Though Cessna is a name commonly associated with propeller airplanes, the company manufactures private jets under the “Citation” brand name. Moreover, its XL/XLS/XLS+ series is the world’s best selling mid-range private jet. In all, Cessna, which became part of Textron Aviation in 2014, manufactures nine Citation private jets:

Mustang
Passengers: 5
Cruising Speed: 391 mph
Range: 1,380 miles

M2
Passengers: 7
Cruising Speed: 466 mph Range: 1,783 miles
CJ3+
Passengers: 9
Cruising Speed: 478 mph
Range:  2,347 miles

CJ4
Passengers: 10
Cruising Speed: 519 mph
Range:  2,491 miles

XLS+
Passengers: 9
Cruising Speed: 507 mph Range: 2,416 miles
X+
Passengers: 12
Cruising Speed: 607 mph
Range: 3,981 miles

Sovereign+
Passengers: 12
Cruising Speed: 529 mph
Range:  3,682 miles

Latitude
Passengers: 9
Cruising Speed: 529 mph Range: 3,279 miles
Longitude
Passengers: 12
Cruising Speed: 547 mph
Range: 3,912 miles

Beechcraft Corporation

The company was founded in 1932 as Beech Aircraft Corporation by Walter Beech, a former partner of Clyde Cessna, and his wife Olive. Maker of a glider at age 14, Walter Beech served as a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War I, and later spent three years barnstorming in the Midwest. He was a test pilot, designer and general manager of Swallow Airplane Corporation in Wichita, Kansas from 1921 to 1924, then co-founded the Travel Air Manufacturing with Clyde Cessna and Lloyd Stearman in Wichita in 1924. This company would be absorbed by the Curtiss-Wright Airplane Company in 1931, leading Beech, then 38 and newlywed to his future business partner, to found Beech Aircraft in Wichita.

Born in 1903, Olive Mellor Beech was 11 when she created her own bank account to manage her family’s finances. After moving to Wichita, she skipped high school and attended the American Secretarial and Business College. Olive was hired by Travel Air as its bookkeeper and advanced to office manager and administrative assistant to Walter Beech. She was secretary-treasurer of Beech Aircraft and would lead the company when Walter became ill during World War II. She is credited, among other accomplishments, with acquiring the first certification for civilian production of a military aircraft—Twin Beech.

Following her “slow as you go” management policy, Olive kept the company out of jet development to focus on turboprop aircraft, of which it continues to be the leader. Not until 1994, with the company’s merger with Raytheon Corporate Jets units, were jet aircraft introduced. The new company, Hawker Beechcraft, would become Beechcraft Corporation while “Hawker” became its jet brand. Like Cessna, the company was purchased by Textron in 2014.

Beechcraft’s business jets:

Hawker 900XP/800XP
Passengers: 8
Cruising Speed: 505 mph
Range: 3,202 miles

Bombardier Aerospace

Headquartered in Quebec, Canada, Bombadier Aerospace is a subsidiary of Bombadier Inc. and ranks as the world’s third largest manufacturer of aircraft in the world. French Canadian Joseph-Armand Bombardier, an inventor since childhood, founded the company in 1937 to manufacture the first snowmobile--or rather, the first commercial snowmobile. Fifteen years earlier at age 15, Bombadier attached a propeller to a Model T engine he had rebuilt and mounted this on tandem sleds to invent the first working snowmobile. His father ordered him to dismantle the vehicle because he deemed it dangerous. Bombardier’s 1937 version ran on caterpillar tracks and was steered by skis. He would go on to invent the light weight Ski-Doo.

After Bombadier died in 1964, the company continued to focus on snowmobiles until the 1970s when competition and a global oil crisis caused it to expand into light rail train production. The company would win a contract with the Montreal subway system in 1980, and two years later, a contract with the New York City subway system. In 1990, Bombadier would be one of several companies contracted to build trains for the “Chunnel” connecting England and France.

In 1984, the company purchased Canadair, manufacturer of Canadian military aircraft. Five years later it acquired the near-bankrupt Short Brothers aircraft manufacturing company in Northern Ireland. The year 1990 saw it launch into business jet manufacturing when it purchased the Wichita, Kansas company Learjet Corporation.

Below are business aircraft built by Bombadier today:

Learjet 70
Passengers: 7
Cruising Speed: 621 mph
Range: 2,370 miles

Learjet 75
Passengers: 9
Cruising Speed: 621 mph
Range: 2,347 miles
Challenger 350
Passengers: 9
Cruising Speed:  629 mph
Range: 3,682 miles

Challenger 650
Passengers: 10
Cruising Speed:  629 mph
Range: 4,303 miles
Global 5000
Passengers: 13
Cruising Speed:  675 mph
Range: 5,984 miles

Embraer Executive Jets

In 1969, the Brazilian government created the corporation Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica (Embraer). The Sao Paulo-based company focused on military aircraft until 1985, when it introduced the regional airliner, Embraer EMB 120. In 1994. Financial difficulties forced the government to privatize Embraer, and in 2000 the company became a public corporation listed on the New York and Brazil’s BM&F Bovespa stock exchanges.

Empresa has since risen to challenge Bombadier as the world’s third largest manufacturer of aircraft. One reason is its Empresa Executive Jets division, which was formed in 2000 and which today offers two light jets under the Phenom brand, four models under the Legacy brand and one (the company's first large business jet) under the Lineage brand.

Phenom 100
Passengers: 7
Cruising Speed:  537 mph
Range: 1,355 miles
Phenom 300
Passengers: 10
Cruising Speed: 598 mph
Range: 2,268 miles
Legacy 450
Passengers: 9
Cruising Speed: 636 mph
Range:  3,337 miles

Legacy 500
Passengers: 12
Cruising Speed: 636 mph
Range: 3,596 miles
Legacy 600
Passengers: 14
Cruising Speed: 613 mph
Range: 3,920 miles
Legacy 650
Passengers: 12
Cruising Speed: 607 mph
Range: 3,981 miles

Lineage 1000E
Passengers: 19
Cruising Speed: 629 mph
Range: 5,293 miles

 

Gulfstream Aerospace

Gulfstream is today a Savannah, Georgia-based subsidiary of aerospace giant General Dynamics. It was founded as Gulfstream American Corporation in 1978 by Allen Paulsen, an Iowa native whose career in aviation began before World War II as a 30-cent-an-hour entry-level mechanic for TWA. After serving as a mechanic in the Army Air Corps during the war, Paulsen returned to TWA and advanced to pilot after earning his license via the GI Bill. He would leave TWA in 1955 and founded California Airmotive Corp., which became one of the world’s largest dealers in second-hand aircraft.

He created Gulfstream American after buying Grumman American, and in 1982 merged this company with his purchase of Rockwell International’s aviation division. Born was Gulfstream Aerospace, a company dedicated to manufacturing business aircraft, and particularly high-end private jets. The company would be purchased by Chrysler in 1985, Paulsen moved on to become owner of Beverly Hills car dealerships as well as an owner and breeder of thoroughbred horses. Ownership of Gulfstream American would pass to General Dynamics in 1998.

Today’s Gulfstream models include:

G150
Passengers: 5
Cruising Speed: 652 mph
Range: 4,142 miles
G280
Passengers: 10
Cruising Speed: 598 mph
Range: 2,268 miles
G450
Passengers: 19
Cruising Speed: 675 mph
Range: 5,005 miles

G500
Passengers: 19
Cruising Speed: 709 mph
Range: 5,753 miles

G550
Passengers: 19
Cruising Speed: 679 mph
Range: 7,767 miles
G600
Passengers: 19
Cruising Speed: 709 mph
Range: 7,174 miles

G650
Passengers: 19
Cruising Speed:  709 mph
Range: 8,059 miles

G650ER
Passengers: 19
Cruising Speed: 709 mph
Range: 8,630 miles

 

Dassault Aviation

Headquartered in Paris, Dassault Aviation was founded in 1929 by Marcel Dassault, son of a Jewish physician who changed his name from Marcel Bloch. Dessault earned degrees in aeronautical and electrical engineering before designing military aircraft for France during World War I. He worked in real estate after the war, but in 1930 founded a company that successfully built civilian and military airplanes. During the occupation of France in World War II, Dassault’s refusal to cooperate with the Germans resulted in his imprisonment in the Buchenwald concentration camp.

Dassault survived the war to lead the postwar revival of the French aircraft industry by producing Europe’s first supersonic jet, the Mystère, as well as the highly successful line of military aircraft called Mirages. When the government urged French companies in 1966 to specialize for survival, Dassault focused on fighter and business jets. Prior to his death in 1986, Dassault was awarded France’s highest honor, the Legion of Honor’s Grand Cross.

Today Dassault offers six business jet models, all in the premium segment of the market:

Falcon 8X
Passengers: 8
Cruising Speed: 613 mph
Range: 7,422 miles

Falcon 7X
Passengers: 8
Cruising Speed: 613 mph
Range: 6 846 miles

Falcon 5X
Passengers: 8
Cruising Speed: 613 mph
Range: 5,466 miles


900LX
Passengers: 6
Cruising Speed: 613 mph
Range: 5,466 miles
2000LXS
Passengers:  6
Cruising Speed: 613 mph
Range: 4,603 miles
2000S
Passengers: 6
Cruising Speed: 613 mph
Range: 3,452 miles

The Boeing Company

Boeing Company, based in Chicago since 2001, was founded in Seattle, Washington in 1916 by William Boeing. Fifteen years earlier, Boeing had dropped out of Yale University to make his fortune in Northwest timber. Not until 1915 did Boeing take his first flight. This entailed paying admission to hang on for dear life to the wing of a Curtiss seaplane. Boeing stood in line to take the flight several times, and soon afterward pursued a pilot’s license.

The outbreak of World War I found Boeing active in the war preparedness movement as part of the Aero Club of the Northwest. He dropped cardboard "bombs" on the crowd at the 1915 Cal-Washington football game to demonstrate Americans vulnerability to attack. The bombs included the words: “Aeroplanes are your defense!!!!" Months later Boeing organized the Pacific Aero Products Co. and produced with Navy engineer George Westervelt its first aircraft, “Airplane Model 1” aka “B&W” seaplane. Boeing would change the company’s name in 1917 to the Boeing Airplane Company.

The name was changed again in 1961 to Boeing Company to reflect the firm’s aerospace diversity. Boeing Company is today the foremost manufacturer of commercial jets and, because of its purchase of Rockwell International Corp. in 1996 and its merger with McDonnell Douglas Corp. in 1997, military airplanes, helicopters and missiles. Not until the late 1990s did the company introduce its first business jet, the BBJ.

Boeing business jets today include:

BBJ
Passengers: 8
Cruising Speed: 547 mph
Range: 7,215 miles
BBJ Max 8
Passengers: 8
Cruising Speed: 606 mph
Range: 7,543 miles
BBJ Max 9
Passengers: 8
Cruising Speed: 606 mph
Range: 7,336 miles

BJ787
Passengers: 25
Cruising Speed: 567 mph
Range: 10,932 miles
BBJ 777
Passengers: 75
Cruising Speed: 562 mph
Range: 10,702 miles
BBJ 747-8
Passengers: 100
Cruising Speed:  652 mph
Range: 10,213 miles

Airbus SAS

This company owes its 1969 beginning to a consortium of European companies wanting to compete with Boeing in the production of airliners. Based in Blagnac, France, this subsidiary of Airbus Group has manufacturing facilities in France, Germany, Spain, China, United Kingdom and the United States. Like Boeing, Airbus makes business jet versions of its airliners. Its current business jets include:

ACJ319neo
Passengers: 25
Cruising Speed: 595 mph
Range: 6,904 miles
ACJ320neo
Passengers: 25
Cruising Speed: 595 mph
Range: 6,904 miles

ACJ320
Passengers: 8
Cruising Speed: 595 mph
Range: 4,846 miles

ACJ321
Passengers: 19
Cruising Speed: 537 mph
Range: 5,696 miles
ACJ330
Passengers: 60
Cruising Speed:  540 mph
Range: 9,551 miles
ACJ340
Passengers: 25
Cruising Speed:  534 mph
Range: 11,392 miles

ACJ350XWB
Passengers: 25
Cruising Speed: 556 mph
Range: 12,428 miles
ACJ380
Passengers: 50
Cruising Speed: 592 mph
Range: 10,932 miles
 

Sources
Textron Aviation
Kansaspedia
Private Jet Strategies
Corporate Jet Investor
Airbus
Gulfstream
Boeing
Aerospace Industries Association
Embraer
Wikipedia

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