In recent years much has been made about the relative benefits afforded by new generation aircraft versus existing pre-owned models. That argument, championed primarily by sellers of fractional jet programs, promotes the notion that “newer aircraft are far superior to pre-owned jets and provide increased safety and reliability.

What is not widely known is that the standards for aircraft design, construction, and certification apply uniformly across all aircraft types - new and used alike. And whereas there have been some improvements wrought from use of new materials, manufacturing processes, and microelectronics; the more significant improvements – those that affect navigation, safety and cabin amenities – are typically incorporated into older aircraft types through mandatory and optional upgrades.

So what really is the difference between new and used aircraft? A recent article appearing in an aviation trade publication described a broad based comparison of the utility, operating costs, and reliability between two newly minted light jet models (the Citation CJ4 and the Embraer Phenom 300) and the venerable Learjet model 35A. It found that while the newer aircraft provided increased cabin volume and lower operating costs, they couldn’t match the speed, range and load-carrying capabilities of the Lear 35A. And when performance and price are factored into an overall measure of productivity, all three aircraft were found to be within a very narrow range of each other in terms of their overall utility.