History of Private Aviation

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Aviation started out as a private affair, as the size of the aircraft could only accommodate one or two individuals. The concept of private aviation, or private jet ownership, didn’t emerge until the 1960s. Since its introductions, the private and charter jet industry has rapidly grown.

Private Aviation Timeline

  • 1930s: Dr. Hans von Ohain and Sir Francis Whittle have jet propulsion plans on the drawing board. Whittle received a patent for his schematics in 1930, but Ohain was the first to get a jet to successfully takeoff. Whittle followed a couple years later. After the 1930s, the industry tested propeller-driven aircraft, or props, against jet technologies. They found that props were better for short distances and jets were best for long flights. Mostly affluent families owned the first private jets, which cost about $1 million each.
  • 1950: Lockheed releases the JetStar, the first business jet in the industry. It accommodated ten passengers and two crewmembers.
  • 1963: While a few aircraft manufacturers created private jets in the 1950s and 1960s, Learjet took a monumental step with the first light purpose-built jet, the Learjet 23. Designers modeled it after German military fighter jet. It had a speed of 561 miles per hour, blazing fast compared to its predecessors.In the same year, Dassault Falcon premiered its first executive jet, the Mystere 20. You can see it in the 1966 film How to Steal a Million, starring Audrey Hepburn.
  • 1966: Gulfstream enters the picture with the Gulfstream II. The aircraft set the standard for private jets with large cabins. It could transport up to 19 passengers and flew up to 4,000 miles without needing to refuel.
  • 1968: Embraer from Brazil releases the Bandeirante Twin-Turboprop. It was the fastest-growing and third-largest manufacturer of private aircraft.
  • 1970: Boeing releases the 747 VIP Private Jet, giving passengers one of the largest cabins available in a private aircraft.
  • 1971: Cessna introduces the Citation 500. It had a slower cruising speed than the Learjet, but became popular because it was simpler to fly because of its wing style.
  • 1980: Le Bourget Airport in Paris, France, is the first airport dedicated to private jets. Today, there are thousands of small airports and fixed-base operations (FBO) across the world. There were many derivatives of existing aircraft models during this decade, but no major new designs.
  • 1990s: The concept of fractionalized jet ownership takes-off.
  • 1993: Cessna releases the Citation X. At the time of publication, the model is one of the fastest in the world with speeds just under mach 0.92 (the speed of sound).
  • 1996: Cessna releases the Citation XL, one of the more popular private jet models in the industry.
  • 2005: The Dassault Falcon 7X is the first fully fly-by-wire business jets that doesn’t require manual flight controls.
  • 2008: Gulfstream launches the G650. It has the longest flight range of any other large-cabin private aircraft on the market. In 2013, it flew around the world in a little over 41 hours, setting a speed record.
  • 2014: Manufacturers develop supersonic private aircraft that use biofuels. They can fly from New York to Paris, France, in just over four hours. The costs of the aircraft are over $300 million each.

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