Maintained properly, upgraded to comply with changing regulations, modified with more capable avionics in the cockpit, repainted outside, refurbished inside, and sometimes even equipped with newer, more powerful, energy-efficient engines, a business aircraft can fly safely and effectively for 30 or 40 years or more. In addition, manufacturers constantly refine and improve their production models and create new examples, so it is not hard to understand why hundreds of business aircraft models are flying today.
Ideally, we would have liked to include all of them in this list, however, we quickly realized that we would reach the point of diminishing returns with many older models as their numbers decrease and interest in them for regular business and private flying wanes. Of course, like antique warbirds, many really old business aircraft will continue to fly for decades and maybe even increase in value, but few of them will be of much interest to buyers looking for aircraft for day-to-day transportation.
Like new cars driven off a dealer’s lot, new airplanes technically become used (or pre-owned) as soon as the first owner departs from the manufacturer’s delivery center. For various reasons, however, 10 years after an aircraft’s production date is generally considered the milestone separating “newer” used business aircraft from “older” ones. So in deciding which aircraft to cover, we went a bit past this 10-year mark to provide information on all business airplanes and helicopters manufactured since 1993. This means our list includes models manufactured well before that year, as long as they were produced at least as recently as 1993. The youngest of these models is 15 years old and still of interest to many users. Some models manufactured for many years before 1993, are included, too, because a long production run is indicative of a successful aircraft. In addition, we added the new models that we could reasonably expect would be certified and go into production soon.
We then asked David Wyndham of Conklin & de Decker, an aviation information and consulting firm in Orleans, Massachusetts, how many models fit our criteria. “More than 200” was his reply. That would be still too many for this guide, we decided.
Luckily, many models had relatively minor differences, so with some judicious decision-making, we culled the group to 100 jet, turboprop and helicopter models we feel are the most popular today.