Private jets are one of the most exclusive methods of transport, but are they able to cross the Pacific Ocean?
Only the largest private jets – usually converted commercial airliners – can cross the Pacific Ocean, and even then there are limits. There are no typical flight paths that directly cross the ocean, owing to its size and expanse, and many follow the ‘Great Circle’ to cross the ocean.
Read on to learn more about the capabilities of private jets and what it takes to cross the Pacific Ocean.
That’s A Big Ocean
At its widest point, the Pacific Ocean stretches for over eleven thousand miles. In 2020, the airliner with the longest range could travel just under ten thousand miles without stopping.
That’s the first indicator that the Pacific Ocean is difficult to cross.
While you can certainly board flights that cross the Pacific Ocean, they often do so in a strategic manner. They tend to follow paths along the ‘Great Circle’, which will always look like a considerably curved line on any flat map.
For example, if you were to fly from Seattle to Tokyo, it would look as though your path took you way further north than you needed to go. Not only does a path like this take less time than a direct crossing, but it’s also much safer.
When you’re crossing any ocean, the danger is extremely obvious. If you experience an engine failure or have to bail out for any particular reason, all that’s beneath you are thousands of miles of the open ocean.
However, if you hug a coastline or fly a curved path that never takes you more than a couple of hundred miles away from land, you’re at less risk. This is what commercial flights tend to do when crossing the Pacific Ocean.
If you access a website like flightradar24.com, you have the ability to see any aircraft in the world, at any given time. You can track their flights live, find out information about the plane, and see the path they’ve taken – and will take.
When you scroll around the world to the Pacific Ocean, you can clearly see that very few planes are crossing the Pacific Ocean directly. They either follow the Great Circle or break up the journey by stopping off in Hawaii.
Privately Passing The Pacific
Where enormous, expansive oceans are concerned, private jets don’t follow a different path to commercial airliners. While they’re more versatile and can change their flight paths without any prior notice, they can’t contend with massive ocean bodies.
In fact, there is a set of governing rules called ETOPS which regulate how far from a landing zone a plane is allowed to fly, based on its size and ability. While these don’t apply globally, they do serve as a good example of the rules surrounding even the most private of flights.
If you’re flying in a small private jet, the ETOPS rules will be much more restrictive, meaning you can’t fly out over a huge ocean. Although, even when ETOPS doesn’t apply, an experienced pilot will not risk the path across the open sea.
There are some private jets that have the ability to fly considerably longer distances than others, of course. For example, there’s the Bombardier Global 8000, a private jet that can carry thirteen people for almost eight thousand miles without stopping.
We’ve already used the example of Seattle to Tokyo, so we’ll employ that theory again. The flight path between these two cities is around 4100 miles in length, meaning the Bombardier could handle it with its eyes closed.
There’s also a luxurious offering from Gulfstream, one of the leading manufacturers of private aircraft. They’ve built the G650ER, with the ‘ER’ standing for ‘Extended Range’.
This private jet can fly for around seven thousand miles, carrying up to nineteen passengers. While the pilots of this plane will still typically avoid the open ocean, they theoretically could cross the Pacific.
If only the biggest planes can cross oceans, the smallest ones have absolutely no chance.
Take the Cirrus Vision Jet, for example, a tiny aircraft with a wingspan of just thirty-eight feet and a range of fewer than fifteen hundred miles. It has a maximum passenger capacity of just seven and could be eaten alive by the Bombardier Global 8000.
You’ll be fine in a small private jet as long as you don’t venture out over the Pacific Ocean any time soon.