How Fast Can Private Jets Fly?

For those who can afford them, private jets represent a convenient and exclusive way to travel the world’s skies in style and comfort. However, they don’t just beat commercial aircraft in terms of exclusivity. Indeed, many are also faster than the average modern jetliner. But how much faster exactly? Let’s take a look at the world’s quickest private jets.

Gulfstream G650
Private jets can transport their lucky passengers at faster speeds than airliners. Photo: Getty Images

The fastest of them all

To begin with, it is worth ascertaining the fastest subsonic airliner in the skies today. Simple Flying explored this question last year, and found that the passenger variant of the Boeing 747-8 took the top spot. This version of the ‘Queen of the skies’ cruises at Mach 0.855 (490 knots / 908 km/h), with a maximum speed of Mach 0.9 (516 knots / 956 km/h).

As far as private jets are concerned, several different aircraft surpass these figures. Indeed, Menkor Aviation reports that test pilots once pushed a Gulfstream G700 to within a fraction of the speed of sound, hitting an impressive Mach 0.99.

However, its official top speed is ‘just’ Mach 0.925. It can also cruise at the Boeing 747-8’s maximum speed of Mach 0.9. These figured are also matched by other private jets from this aircraft family, namely the Gulfstream G650 and the Gulfstream G650ER.

Cessna Citation
Cessna launched the Citation X+, which made its first flight in January 2012, as an updated version of its original popular Citation X. Photo: Alan Wilson via Flickr

Therefore, the fastest private jet in terms of its official top speed appears to be the Cessna Citation X+. This aircraft, which holds multiple altitude and US coast-to-coast records, has an impressive maximum operating speed of Mach 0.935 (536 knots / 993 km/h). Its cruise speed of 528 knots (978 km/h) also outranks both the G700 and Boeing 747-8.

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The best of the rest

Menkor Aviation lists the Bombardier Global 7500/8000 and the Gulfstream G500/G600 families as having maximum speeds of Mach 0.925. These exclusive aircraft can cruise at speeds in the window of Mach 0.85-0.90 (488–516 knots / 903–956 km/h).

Dropping down a little further in terms of top speed, a further two private jet families are reportedly able to match the Boeing 747-8’s Mach 0.9 maximum. These are the Bombardier Global 5500/6500 and the Dassault Falcon 7X/8X.

Dassault Falcon 7X
A Dassault Falcon 7X belonging to former F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone. Photo: via Wikimedia Commons

The Bombardier designs cruise at Mach 0.85-0.88 (488–504 knots / 903–934 km/h). Meanwhile, Dassault’s Falcon 7X and 8X jets offer a more leisurely cruise, clocking in at Mach 0.8 (459 knots / 850 km/h). Of these, the 8X offers a longer range than the original 7X.

Space over speed

It is worth touching on the fact that private jets don’t have to be the small, rear-engined speed machines that we have explored so far. Some customers might prefer to prioritize onboard space over speed, and fit a full-scale airliner with an opulent interior.

For example, Canadian rapper Drake and Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich have both acquired luxury Boeing 767s for such purposes. Interestingly enough, the world’s largest private jet also offers fairly high speeds, as it is none other than a Boeing 747-8. The lucky owner in this case is Hong Kong real estate billionaire Joseph Lau.

Have you ever seen any of these rapid aircraft on your travels? Perhaps you’ve even been lucky enough to fly on one? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!