Understanding our aircraft guide

Maintained properly, upgraded when required 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. Meanwhile, aircraft manufacturers constantly refine and improve their current production models and create new examples to better serve their customers. So it is not hard to understand why there are literally hundreds of business aircraft models flying today.

Ideally, we would have liked to include all of them in this first BJT Buyers' Guide. It did not take us long, however, to determine 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 of these really old business aircraft will continue to fly for decades to come 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 preowned) 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 thought to go a bit past this 10-year mark and provide information on all business airplanes and helicopters manufactured since 1993. This meant that our listing could include models manufactured well before that year, as long as they were still produced at least as recently as 1993. We figured this would be fine since the youngest of these models would be 15 years old and still of interest to many users. If a model were manufactured for many years before 1993, this would be OK, 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 this year.

We then asked our friend David Wyndham at Conklin & de Decker, an aviation information and consulting firm, how many aircraft models fit our criteria. "More than 200" was his surprising reply. That would be still too many for this guide, we decided. Luckily, many models had relatively minor differences among them. So with some judicious decision-making, we culled the group to the approximately 100 jet, turboprop and helicopter models we feel are the most popular today.

Many thanks to David and others at Conklin & de Decker who provided the data for all the aircraft on the following pages.

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