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NBAA: Business jet designs that changed the industry

An eclectic mix of machinery has fought for a share of the corporate jet market over the last six decades. We identify 18 aircraft that have made, defined or changed business aviation, with delivery data from Flight Fleets Analyzer.

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Lockheed JetStar

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James Mellon/FlightGlobal

Deliveries: 202 (1961-1980)

When Lockheed created the L-1329 as a private venture to meet a later-defunct US Air Force requirement, it ultimately fashioned the world’s first business jet design. The JetStar started life as a twinjet, but found success with four engines. The "original biz jet" achieved icon status in the 1970s as Elvis Presley's personal transport, named "Hound Dog".

HS125/Hawker series

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FlightGlobal Archive

Deliveries: 1,720 (1963-2012)

Arguably the UK’s most successful civil aircraft programme, the Hawker series started life as the de Havilland 125 and was promoted in 1962 as the first purpose-designed business jet. Continuous and intelligent development ensured the jet remained popular throughout 1970s and 1980s, until Raytheon bought the programme in 1993 and assembly moved to the USA. Production ended in 2012 after 1,720 sales of all variants.

Learjet 23

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Granger/REX/Shutterstock

Deliveries: 101 (1964-1966)

The first Learjet was inspired by the Swiss P-16 fighter jet prototype. Bill Lear's sleek-looking creation established a new market for high-performance business aircraft. Thanks to the Learjet 23, the name became the byword for executive transports and this original version started a dynasty that continues to this day as part of the Bombardier line-up.

Dassault Mystère 20/Falcon 20

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James Mellon/FlightGlobal

Deliveries: 512 (1965-1991)

The first in a long line of business jets from the Dassault stable, the Falcon 20/200 (née Dassault-Breguet Mystère 20) established a foothold for the French military manufacturer in the then embryonic corporate jet market. This baseline design spawned the smaller Falcon 10 and Falcon 50 trijet and went on to sell more than 500 aircraft in a market where Dassault continues to be a major player today, with its line-up of twin- and three-engined designs.

Grumman Gulfstream II

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James Mellon/FlightGlobal

Deliveries: 256 (1967-1980)

When Gulfstream's first business jet, the Rolls-Royce Spey-powered G-II, arrived in 1967, it brought high performance and large-cabin comfort to the corporate jet world. It also spawned an iconic line of business jets that has gone from strength to strength.

Cessna Citation I

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James Mellon/FlightGlobal

Deliveries: 688 (1971-1985)

A giant in the general aviation world, Cessna moved for a slice of the business jet market with its launch of the "Fanjet 500" in 1968. Renamed the Citation, this little aircraft led to the creation of one of the world's most successful business jet lines.

Bombardier Challenger 600

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Bombardier

Deliveries: 1,066 (1980- )

The first widebody business jet started life as a Bill Lear vision – the LearStar 600. Canadair acquired the programme in 1976 (and Bombardier bought Canadair a decade later). After a rocky start, a switch from Avco Lycoming to General Electric power ensured the Challenger became a sales success and established the widebody business jet market where others followed.

Dassault Falcon 2000

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James Mellon/FlightGlobal

Deliveries: 607 (1995- )

Having launched its assault on the wide-cabin long-range market in the mid-1980s with its Falcon 900 trijet, Dassault then developed a twin-engined derivative, the 2000. In doing so, it effectively created the super-midsize segment, bringing a new size of cabin and US transcontinental range at an affordable price.

Cessna Citation X

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James Mellon/FlightGlobal

Deliveries: 336 (1996-2018)

With its maximum cruise speed of Mach 0.92, the Citation X gave Cessna the world's fastest business jet and provided an important boost to the image of its Citation family. Having sold over 330 aircraft, Cessna is due to close the programme this year after more than two decades of production.

Bombardier Global series

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James Mellon/FlightGlobal

Deliveries: 816 (1998- )

When the Global Express joined the Challenger in Bombardier's line-up 20 years ago, it signalled the arrival of the ultra-long-range business jet phenomenon. With sales now exceeding 800 units, the Global series has been progressively developed into the 5000/6000. The flagship Global 7500 was certificated recently. The family will be joined next year by the re-engined 5500/6500 variants.

Boeing Business Jet

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James Mellon/FlightGlobal

Deliveries: 145 (1998- )

Although commercial airliners had always found their way into the corporate sector, the launch of the Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) series of 737NG derivatives was the first time that mainline manufacturer had formally created a "biz-liner family" offering. The move proved so successful that rival Airbus quickly responded with the launch of its ACJ corporate jet family.

Beechcraft Premier I

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James Mellon/FlightGlobal

Deliveries: 292 (2001-2012)

Having proved the concept of an all-composite airframe with its radical Starship business turboprop, Beech was the first to use the technology in the corporate jet world with its Premier 1 light business jet. The aircraft was in production for a decade, achieving almost 300 sales.

ECLIPSE 500

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FlightGlobal Archive

Deliveries: 294 (2006- )

Visionary and former Microsoft employee Vern Raburn promised to bring automotive disciplines to aircraft manufacturing with his "very light jet" concept. His Eclipse 500 twinjet created all that “VLJ” hype at the turn of the century, but then it all went very wrong when funding dried up and the business folded. The programme continues under new owners but at a low production rate.

Gulfstream G650

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James Mellon/FlightGlobal

Deliveries: 322 (2012- )

Carrying on the Gulfstream tradition to the ultimate level, the G650 arrived in 2012 as Savannah's largest and fastest business jet, with a maximum cruise speed of M0.925. In April 2018, Gulfstream marked 300 deliveries for its flagship product, which won the coveted Collier Trophy in 2014 in recognition of its "technological advancements in performance, comfort and safety".

Embraer Phenom 300

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James Mellon/FlightGlobal

Deliveries: 467 (2009- )

The Phenom 300, and its smaller sibling, the 100, formed the cornerstone of Embraer's advance into the business jet sector to take on Cessna. Until the Phenom, Embraer had played in the sector with its Legacy adaptations of its regional jet line-up. The Phenom 300 has gone on to be a big seller and dominate its segment.

Honda HA-420 HondaJet

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Max Kingsley-Jones/FlightGlobal

Deliveries: 88 (2015- )

Honda has been on a remarkable journey with this unique-looking design, breaking into the sector as a new player. The deep pockets of one of Japan's biggest conglomerates has helped make the visionary HondaJet a reality and set it on course for commercial success.

Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet

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Max Kingsley-Jones/FlightGlobal

Deliveries: 63 (2016- )

With its unusual V-fin and single-engine configuration, the SF50 has silenced Cirrus Aircraft's many doubters. The manufacturer of the world's most successful piston – the SR range – developed the world's only certificated single-engined business jet. It was the 2018 recipient of the Collier Trophy.

Pilatus PC-24

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Pilatus Aircraft

Deliveries: 8 (2018- )

Established turboprop builder Pilatus sought to defy the odds with this, its first jet design. With the best-selling PC-12 turboprop single behind it, Pilatus was able to announce a huge number of orders at the PC-24 launch in 2013. The first aircraft flew in 2015 and deliveries began earlier this year, following certification in December 2017.

Piaggio P180 Avanti

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Piaggio Aerospace

Deliveries: 236 (1990- )

Although clearly not a business jet, Piaggio's Avanti corporate turboprop deserves special mention in our survey as its radical design and high performance makes its main competitors the light jets. Launched in partnership with Gates Learjet, the P180 arrived in 1990 as an all-Italian project and continues to be a challenger offering jet-like performance and cabin comfort at turboprop economics.

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