Nothing, it seems, can ground private aviation. Despite the high costs for planes and fuel, the waiting lists for recent and yet-to-be-released planes are growing, and nearly every major general aviation company has put a new model on the market in the past year or so, or plans to. "Thirty years ago, there were more people getting into flying for the pleasure side of things," says Scott Fank, VP of sales at Illinois-based JA Air Center, which sells private aircraft, as well as providing training and maintenance. "Nowadays, we're seeing more people fed up with airlines and fed up with security. So they're looking to private aviation."
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Buying a plane is, in effect, buying a time machine that enables you to accelerate domestic or international travel by hours, or turn a four-hour stop-and-go drive into a 20-minute hop. That's why, even as companies like NetJets and Wheels Up try to convince fliers to buy fractional shares of planes, the wholly owned private aircraft remains a viable product. Here are the most exciting, appealing, or flat-out audacious models – available now or soon enough to place a preorder.
Dassault Falcon 7X
Price: $50 million
Available: Since 2007
Range: 5,950 nautical miles
The Dassault Falcon 7X isn't the biggest, fastest, or priciest jet a billionaire can buy. But it's easily the coolest: Its triple cluster of jet engines makes it one of just two trijet models in the air (Dassault also makes the other), and it's huge, with a stand-up cabin and bathroom and seating for up to 16 passengers. The 7X's landing speed, though, is as low as 104 knots, letting it set down on runways normally far too short for large-body jets. No other plane in its class, for example, can land at London City Airport. [dassaultfalcon.com]