Choosing your SuperLight jet: Pilatus PC24 vs Citation XLS+ vs Phenom 300

With frequent private flyers constantly seeking to elevate their travel experiences, aircraft models in the SuperLight private jet category have seen a dramatic surge in popularity over the past couple of years. From our perspective, last year we observed a 70% increase in bookings for SuperLights such as the Pilatus PC-24, a 35% increase for the Citation XLS+, and a 9% increase for the Phenom 300 compared to the previous year.

To the untrained eye, these three aircraft might appear similar. However, by exploring their unique specifications and features, we can uncover why they have become some of the most sought-after models in the private jet charter market. Below, we highlight what sets these aircraft apart, helping you decide which model best suits your needs…

Pilatus PC24 – Versatile and fuel-efficient

Seats – 6-8 passengers

Luggage – 9-10 bags

From a pure innovation and engineering standpoint, the Pilatus PC-24 is a remarkable aircraft. Aside from providing discerning travellers with luxury flying experiences, the PC-24 is also the aircraft of choice for the Royal Flying Doctor Service in the Australian Outback, and above the Arctic Circle in the North Slope Borough in Alaska. It is arguably the most versatile aircraft in its category. Pilatus claims that no other business jet can operate from as many unpaved and paved surfaces as short as 3,090 feet (940 metres).

The Pilatus PC-24 offers plenty of passenger perks such as an integrated cabin management system, a 3-D moving map, improved audio, and mood lighting. The interior appointment also includes a side-facing divan, which passengers can convert into a bed making it particularly useful for travelling with children. The interior also includes a flat floor as opposed to a recessed aisle, which makes it more comfortable for large pets to lie down.

Arguably one of the most important features of the PC24 is how efficient and environmental it is compared to other SuperLight jets. Because it is a relatively new model of aircraft, it burns 38% less fuel on average per hour compared with the older Citation XLS+. With clients increasingly looking towards more fuel-efficient aircraft this is a major plus for the PC-24.

Citation XLS+ – Reliable and economic

Seats – 6-8 passengers

Luggage – 8 bags

The Cessna Citation XLS+ is one of the most used business jets in the world and one of the best-selling private jets of all time – and for good reason. As it offers the comfort and luxury of a midsize jet, but the operational cost and runway performance of a light jet, it is also very popular with charter operators.

The XLS+, which first debuted in 2008, is the oldest model of the three highlighted in this article. Because of this it is also one of the cheapest and most available aircraft in its class on the charter market. Its large luggage compartment makes it an ideal aircraft for the ski season, as it easily accommodates six pairs of skis with soft bags or four pairs with medium-sized suitcases (25kg per suitcase).

As seen in the graph above, the XLS+ has the greatest range of the three aircraft, it is capable of flying for up to 4 hours making it perfect for longer inter-continental trips. It also boasts the best cabin height (5 ft 5 In) and decent width (5 ft 6 In) meaning passengers will have plenty of space to stretch out and move around.

Phenom 300 – Speed and simplicity

Seats – 6-8 passengers

Luggage – 8 bags

Last year the Phenom 300 overtook the Citation Excel family’s streak of 15 years as the most-used private jet. A noteworthy feature of the Phenom 300 is the flat floor in the luggage compartment, making it easier to stack suitcases, skis and other bulky sports equipment. The hold in the Citation XLS+ has more overall space but is made of levels. The interior also features club seating with a recessed aisle, rotating seats, and configurations that could include a side-facing divan.

The Phenom 300 is the smallest of the three highlighted aircraft in terms of interior space and also (although very marginally) has the least amount of range. With that said it also has the highest maximum speed and a very impressive fuel burn rate capable of competing with the much newer Pilatus PC-24. For this reason, the Phenom 300 is a great aircraft for a quick weekend getaways or city breaks.

Frequent jet users might also like to know that the Phenom 300 is among the most popular aircraft to fly for pilots. In a review for ‘flying magazine’ one pilot writes: “It really is the ultimate expression of the Super Light jet segment, with best-in-class performance and outstanding comfort and utility, while offering ease of flight and airline style maintainability. It truly is a joy to fly.”

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