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Entry-level jets, otherwise known as compact, or Very light jets (VLJs) are the aviation industry’s answer for high-flying businessmen who care less about style, and more about maximising their time, flying from meeting to meeting in the region. Such jets have a maximum take-off weight of 10,000lbs (4,540kg), are typically operated by a single pilot, and can accommodate up to eight passengers. While such jets are perfect for those with a budget — prices start from just US$2.7 million (S$3.87 million) — they get us from destination to destination, while making an easier, more exclusive way of flying. Here are the top four in the market.
1. Citation Mustang
The Cessna Citation Mustang is one of the world’s most versatile and widely distributed personal jets, and at a bargain of US$2.7 million. Equipped with twin dual-channel, turbofan engines that propel it to a top cruising speed of 340ktas (630km/h), the certified single-pilot Citation Mustang can carry five passengers (excluding the pilot) up to 1,200nm (2,222km) from takeoff to landing.
The Citation Mustang’s interior comes in Swish Nordic or Black Diamond, both of which include pile wool carpeting and luxurious leather seats. Foldaway tables, two 12-volt electric outlets, and in-cabin storage space cater to sky-high business needs, while a side-facing toilet with privacy curtain and optional SiriusXM satellite radio up the comfort factor. At a cabin length of 9ft 9in (3m), width of 4.6ft (1.4m) and height of 54in (1.37m), it’s not the most spacious interior, but does its job.
The cockpit, which has separate climate controls from the cabin, runs on the three-screen Garmin G1000 avionics system, and includes weather- and terrain-avoidance radar. Honeywell’s Traffic Advisory System is among the jet’s available upgrades, as well.
2. Eclipse 550
At US$2.995 million (S$4.3 million), the Eclipse 550 by ONE Aviation (a merger between Eclipse Aerospace and Kestrel Aircraft) is yet another affordable personal jet on the market — and delivers plenty of bang for the buck. Originally conceived and debuted in 2013 by Eclipse Aviation, it carries up to six passengers, cruises at a speed of up to 375ktas (695km/h) and climbs to an altitude of 41,000ft (12,500km). With a seating arrangement of four passengers, it has a maximum range of 1,123nm (2,089km), and burns just up to 59 gallons of fuel per hour, further adding to its cost-effective appeal. It’s interior is equally roomy with a length of 12ft 3in (3.75m), width of 4ft 6in (1.4m) and height of 4ft 1in (1.27m).
In situations of inclement weather, the Eclipse 550’s pneumatic de-icing features eradicate ice deposits from the wings inflight, while optional add-ons like Honeywell’s full-color RDR-2000 weather radar and BF Goodrich’s lightening detector WX-500 Stormscope keep pilots aware of developing conditions.
3. Phenom 100E
A frequent recipient of our Best of the Best Business Jet award, this topflight beauty from Brazil-based Embraer Executive Jets is no stranger to Robb Report readers — or fliers. More than 300 of the company’s personal jets are active in 26 countries, with China being the latest first-time recipient of a Phenom 100E.
The twin-engine Phenom 100E has space for up to seven passengers (excluding the pilot) and can travel up to 1,178nm (2,181km), at a maximum altitude of 41,000ft (12,500km) and cruising speed of 390ktas (722km/h) in a single flight. The jet’s plush interior, designed by BMW DesignworksUSA, is available in 11 different color schemes — including bronzite, pearl, and — and further personalisation comes via swivel seats, fully reclinable chairs, and a refreshment centre. With an interior of 11ft (3.3m) in length, 5ft 1in (1.55m) in width and 4ft 11in (1.5m) in height, the Phenom 100E is easily one of the most spacious VLJs around.
Making a good thing even better, the company upgraded the Phenom 100E from its predecessor by improving the braking system, and by making some features standard that were once premium, like synthetic cockpit vision and more take-off thrust.
The wait was worth it. And at a price of US$4.5 million (S$6.45 million), it had to be. Though the HondaJet embarked on its first flight in 2003, its development actually began way back in the mid-90s. Now, this sleek cruiser is set to shake up the world of personal jets after the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted it type certification in December 2015. Offering room for up to five passengers and two pilots, and equipped with everything from a private lavatory with flushing toilet and sink to 1,868l of stored luggage space, there’s a lot to love about this elite VLJ.
Built in Greensboro, North Carolina, and available in Europe and the Americas, the HondaJet reaches a maximum altitude of 43,000ft (13.1km) and its best-in-class cruising speed of 420ktas (777km/h) — that’s 45ktas (83km/h) faster than Embraer’s Phenom 100E. Credit the extra kick to a cutting-edge aerodynamic design highlighted by top-of-wing engine mounts and metal, laminar-flow wings and nose. Passengers fly in comfort too, with cabin dimensions at 17ft 8in (5.4m) in length, 5ft (1.52m) in width and 4ft 83in (1.47m) in height.
In the cockpit, pilots have the state-of-the-art Garmin G3000 avionics suite at their disposal, including three 14-inch, all-glass touchscreen panels and a 40/60 display configuration.