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.
Price: $11.5 million
Available: Late 2013 (estimated)
Range: 2,060 nautical miles
Learjet used to be the Xerox of private aviation, its name synonymous with the entire notion of airborne wealth. The brand (part of Bombardier) isn't exactly failing, but models like the upcoming Learjet 70 could help win back some territory. It can reach a smooth-sailing max altitude of 45,000 feet, and its range of 2,060 nautical miles is practically transcontinental. Along with a lower weight than the model it's replacing (by some 200 pounds), the new eight-seater will be one of the first aircraft to feature Garmin's latest cockpit layout – the top-end G5000, with its array of 14- and 5.7-inch touchscreen panels. [businessaircraft.bombardier.com]