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Private jet business picks up speed

Commercial airliners typically fly at .85 Mach (567 mph). Spike S-512 uses advanced engine and airframe technology to cruise at average speeds of Mach 1.6-1.8 (1060-1200 mph).

“Fly faster, do more.” That’s what the website for Spike Aerospace’s supersonic business jet reads. The new $80 million dollar aircraft is due out in 2018 and promises to fly from New York to London in just three to four hours.

Corporate plane shame is gone.

“Particularly the perception that as people were losing their jobs and as the economy was tanking, you shouldn’t be out flying around in a business jet,” says Doug Royce, vice president of research and editorial services for aerospace research firm Forecast International. “That’s gone away,” he says.

The market for private jets is worth tens of billions a year, says Royce, but the lower end is still struggling. He says a signal the top of the market is growing is manufacturers like Bombardier and Gulf Stream developing new aircraft.

Robert Mann, president of R. W. Mann, an airline industry analysis and consulting firm says Fortune 500 firms are still the biggest business buyers of private jets. He notes that pilots on private planes can pay twice as much for fuel as commercial airlines. It can be expensive to ship jet fuel to small airports and  large commercial airlines have the luxury of consuming fuel without paying taxes on it.

“The old adage goes speed costs money -- how fast can you afford to go,” he says.

Aerion, developer of another supersonic jet says it has letters of intent for 50 aircraft. The check in date is 2020. 

About the author

Sally Herships is a regular contributor to Marketplace.
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