The use of private jets has been gracing headlines all over the world for years now. It’s a luxury that few can afford, but for some entrepreneurs, celebrities and politicians, it’s a necessity.

Whether you prefer to fly privately for convenience or luxury, the thought of owning a jet has likely crossed your mind at least once before. However exciting whole aircraft ownership may be, there’s a lot to consider before dropping millions on a personal private jet.

What is whole aircraft ownership?

Full ownership of an aircraft means that an individual or an entity owns an aircraft and is responsible for all the costs associated with owning and maintaining that same aircraft.

There are other ownership models as well, like fractional ownership, but let’s take a deeper look at whole aircraft ownership.


How many privately owned jets are there?

The number fluctuates from week to week and year to year, but there are roughly 22,000 privately owned aircraft in service across the globe, with more than two-thirds of those aircraft being registered in North America.

As more and more people discover the benefits of flying privately post-pandemic, this number is expected to rise slightly.

Who owns the most private jets?

Private jet charter companies that own fleets available for client use top this list. However, several billionaires around the world own more than one personal aircraft.

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The Gulfstream G650ER

Some of the more prominent billionaires on this list include:

  • Jeff Bezos, Gulfstream G650ER
  • Mark Cuban, Gulfstream V, Boeing 757, Boeing 767
  • Bill Gates, Bombardier Global Express
  • Elon Musk, Gulfstream G650ER
  • Richard Branson, Dassault Falcon 50EX
  • Beyonce and Jay-Z, Challenger 850
  • Oprah Winfrey, Bombardier Global Express
  • Roman Abramovich, Boeing 767
  • Prince Al Waleed bin Talal Al Saud, Boeing 747

So if you’ve ever wondered who personally owns a 747, outside of commercial airlines, the answer is Prince Al Waleed bin Talal Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, as noted above.

Can you look up who owns a plane?

Yes. Every aircraft in operation in the United States must be registered through the Aircraft Registry. The Federal Aviation Administration has an online registry that is searchable by N number and provides aircraft information, like:

  • Make
  • Model
  • Manufacturer
  • Serial number
  • Name of owner
  • Dealer
  • Engine type
  • Aircraft type

If you want to see where an aircraft is located, FlightRadar is an excellent resource and provides live air traffic data. If you’d like to track your family’s location on a private jet charter, your private flight advisor can pass along those details so you can keep an eye on them while they’re in the skies.

Whole aircraft ownership FAQs for owners

For those that already own an aircraft, there are a few questions that we’re often asked that we’d like to answer.

How do you transfer ownership of an aircraft?

A bill of sale must be signed by both parties and the transfer of funds must take place before ownership can be passed along. The original aircraft registration certificate will also need to be amended and shared with the FAA.

Since this process can be complicated, it’s best to invite a third party into the mix to handle all the details and make sure the right steps have been executed and all the necessary documentation has been signed.

How long does it take to transfer aircraft registration?

The aircraft registration transfer can take a few weeks to take effect. The average time is usually around 16 business days.

What forms do I need to sell an airplane?

These are the forms required when selling an airplane:

  • Aircraft Bill of Sale
  • Sales Agreement
  • Aircraft Registration
  • Application for U.S. Airworthiness Certificate

Most of these forms can be found online.

Can I reduce the cost of aircraft ownership?

A recent article published by Business Jet Traveler compared the value of owning an aircraft and chartering it out to recoup some of the ownership costs.

After adding the potential income received from charters against the cost of owning an aircraft, Jeff Wieand, the author, concluded, “Assuming a charter rate for a CL605 of $5,850 per hour, with an additional $1,485 per hour for the fuel surcharge, hourly charter revenue (after deducting the commission for the charter certificate holder) will be about $2,655 per hour. Accordingly, if you charter the aircraft for 400 hours per year, your total revenue from that will slightly exceed $1 million, compared with $3.6 million in expenses.”

That means, even with chartering an aircraft for 400 hours per year, you’ll still be left with a bill for $2.6 million. And if you plan to use your aircraft at peak times, like holidays and weekends, you could further widen this gap, creating even more out-of-pocket expenses.

For some business owners, however, the cost of whole aircraft ownership is well worth the initial investment and operating costs. However, these situations typically require full-time use of the aircraft, and it wouldn’t make sense to try and recoup costs with charters.

The benefits of working with a reputable aircraft provider

Even if you own an aircraft, working with aviation professionals can be beneficial.

For example, when it comes time to upgrade your aircraft, you can leverage a broker’s professional relationships to your benefit. Through word of mouth and their connections, you could find a buyer quickly.

If you’d rather not push through the paperwork and commitment that accompanies whole aircraft ownership, a third-party broker can handle all the details on your behalf so you can spend more time in the skies and less time on the phone or behind a desk.

And if you do decide that chartering out your aircraft to recoup costs works for you, an aircraft management partner can make the process seamless for both parties.

At Stratos, we’ve spent the last two decades strengthening our industry relationships while providing clients with a high-touch customer experience. From booking private jet charters to providing aircraft acquisition assistance, we’re well-versed in all things related to private aviation.

If you have questions, we have answers. Reach out today, and let’s talk.


If you’re looking for an air charter company with nearly 20 years of experience, call 888.593.9066 or request a free quote online to get started.