If you’re reading this, you must have a big pile of cash and no time for the delays and inconveniences of commercial flying. Or, you work for a business that matches that description.

In either case, you should know that the process of buying a private jet is similar to buying a car, but there are a few complications. In short, you need to get your peeps lined up in advance. This includes selecting a management company that will handle everything from hiring a pilot to maintaining the jet. A lawyer is recommended, because this purchase involves Federal Aviation Administration regulations as well as tax law, and it may well be an international transaction. And, if you are buying a used jet, you need to arrange for an inspection. 

This article summarizes some of the necessary steps and introduces some websites where you can start your search.

(Or you could always lease a private jet. To help you decide, see Buying vs. Leasing a Private Jet.)

Before You Start Your Search

Some of the criteria you’ll be considering when you purchase a private jet are reminiscent of car shopping, but with a much bigger price tag. They include:

  • New or used? Jets have a long lifespan, and many reputable dealers sell both new jets and older models that have been reconditioned and updated for resale. 
  • Size. Consider how many passengers this jet should be able to carry. That decision automatically narrows the search to categories like “light” or “medium.”
  • Flight range. That is, how far it can fly without a refueling stop. There are “ultra long-range” models that can go 6,000 miles or more nonstop. But if your usual route is Atlanta to Miami, a jet with a 1,000-mile range may do fine.
  • Speed. It is valued in jets as much as in cars, but common sense suggests that it is less important if you want a workhorse for short hops.
  • Price. Private jets cost millions, or many millions. Robb Report’s “The World’s 23 Best Private Aircraft” includes a large-cabin ultra long-range Gulfstream model that goes for $66.5 million, a “light” Cessna for $8.4 million and an “entry-level” Cessna for $4.7 million. Or, Aerion is prepping a supersonic version for $120 million. (Supersonic speed permitted only over large bodies of water.) 

And then there are the optional extras. Because this industry caters to neo-billionaire tastes, interior upgrade packages can include products from brands like Hermès, which supplies everything from gilded tea sets to trash bins for private jets.

Websites With Private Jet Listings

If you’re ready to start browsing, there are many dealers of new and used jets online. They include:

  • BusinessAir.com This publisher of a monthly magazine runs a site with listings of all types of private aircraft for sale.
  • JamesEdition.com offers listings from selected brokers. The site also has a sensible list of consumer tips for handling a major transaction over the internet. 
  • AVBuyer.com has listings, and also serves as an enthusiasts’ site with blogs and features of interest to buyers and owners of private jets.

If you’re in the market for a jet aircraft, you’re not pinching pennies. But it’s worth noting that this may be a good time to buy a used jet. Industry insiders say they are seeing an upswing in sales of used models, particularly of lighter jets suitable for hopping across regional airports. They attribute this to a move to austerity among the super-rich of countries like China, Russia and Brazil, whose economies have entered a period of uncertainty. 

However, a site that tracks the industry suggests that uncertainty in emerging economies may be slowing the growth of the private jet industry as a whole. GulfNews.com reports that the industry has never quite recovered from the 2008 recession, and its immediate prospects are uncertain. 

The Bottom Line

Shopping for a private jet is similar to shopping for a car, but it’s much more expensive. It also takes some advance planning, since you can’t park this baby in the driveway. Use the websites mentioned above to educate yourself and start your search. Want to charter a private jet instead? See 6 Websites Where You Can Book a Private Jet and Private Jet? There's An App For That.

 

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