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Light Jet, Mid-Size Jet, Heavy Jet, etc? What Does It All Mean?

Updated: Mar 2, 2021

Booking a private jet can be intimidating and a little confusing.  It’s almost as though it is intentionally confusing, but don’t panic! A good private jet charter broker can help you to sort it all out.  While we are fully capable of throwing lots of numbers and other aviation jargon at you so you feel completely lost, we feel it is more important to have well-informed clients that feel comfortable and confident in their private air charter buying experience.

Does Jet Size Matter?

Allow me to answer that question with another question.  Does your comfort matter?

Yes, aircraft size is directly proportional to cabin size and seating. The larger the private aircraft the more room to spread out and possibly even walk around. Private jets serve many functions and their shape and size are directly linked to the operations they perform.

Bigger = faster and farther.  The bigger the aircraft, the bigger the engines.

Aircraft range in size from very light jets, commonly known as VLJs (the aviation industry is full of confusing acronyms), followed by light jets, mid-size jets, heavy jets, and ultra long range jets. Then comes Boeing Business Jets (BBJs) and Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJs) (see, more acronyms). A large aircraft offers a roomier cabin and typically more seats, until you reach the BBJs, then you start to include things like bedrooms (yes, some planes even have private bedrooms), conference rooms, dining areas, and full bathrooms.

Let’s Compare.

Let’s imagine we are talking about something more familiar like cars. If these private jets were cars, their vehicular counterparts would be as follows:

Very Light Jet – “Smart Car”

Seats 4-6 passengers. Offers the shortest range of 1,100 nm – 1,400 nm (New York City - Kansas City).

Light Jet– “Fiat 500”

Seats 6-8 passengers. Offers a short range of 1,200 nm – 2,000 nm (New York City – Denver).

Mid-size Jet– “BMW”

Seats 8-10 passengers. Offers a medium range 2,800 nm – 3,200 nm (New York – Las Vegas).

Heavy Jet– “Suburban”

Seats 10-14 passengers. Offers a long range 4,000 nm – 5,500 nm (New York – Napa Valley).

Ultra Long Range Jet– “Winnebago (are those still a thing?)”

Seats 12-19 passengers. Offers a longer range 5,200 nm – 6,000 nm (New York – Hawaii).

Boeing Business Jet/Airbus Corporate Jet – “[Insert your favorite band] Tour Bus”

Seats around 16 passengers. Offers the longest range of 6,270+ nm (Anywhere in the World).

Which One Is Right For You?

Can you use a small private aircraft to get to LA from Boston? You sure can, but it will take longer and the chance of a fuel stop along the way is likely. You could also use a large private jet for a shorter route, but it would only make sense if you were seeking a large group air charter. The good news is that within each category there are even more private jet charter options depending on the manufacturer and operator.  That’s where personal preference and available amenities take over.

It’s a lot to take in, but a good private air charter broker will take the time to explain your options and help you select the best private jet for your trip on an individual basis.


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