Flying the world’s most popular private jet

Take one jet, and add three pilot viewpoints. The jet in question is Cessna’s Citation Excel (XL), the best-selling private jet in the world. Taking it’s first flight over 18 years ago in 1996, the mid-sized private jet seats up to 9 people, with over 575 aircraft produced (and counting).

The Citation XLS+ is the latest model of the world's most popular jet

The original version of the XL was evolved into the Citation XLS and XLS+ models, offering improved range, avionics and cabin comfort. For PrivateFly customers it’s an extremely popular aircraft for private jet charter flights, with wide global availability.

To find out what ingredients make it most the popular private jet, we asked three different XL pilots for their views from the flightdeck:

“For me it’s the perfect all-round private jet”

The pilot: Bryan Bourgeois from Call&Fly. He is a first officer on the Citation XL, based in Cannes in the Cote D’Azur in France.

Bryan trained in Canada and then flew in Africa, where he was based in Dakar. He has been involved in different aviation sectors including medical flights, freight, and private charter flights. He then converted his Canadian licences to JAA in Cannes Aviation, and has now spent almost 2 years in Cannes, flying the Citation XL.

Why the XL excels?: “It’s the most successful and mid-sized jet for a simple reason – because it fits the requirements of most clients. It can set up to 9 passengers in great comfort, with a great ratio of time/comfort/cost. As a pilot, I’m really happy to fly the XL. It offers a luxury experience for my passengers – and happy passengers make a happy pilot. It is also very powerful, safe and easy to handle as a pilot. For me it’s the perfect all-round private jet.”

My favourite flights: “I have three favourite approaches which are Cannes, Lugano and Sion. All are really exciting with breath-taking surroundings (and they are landings that I am lucky enough to make often in the Citation XL). For me, being able to make a visual approach on an unusual airfield is the most exciting opportunity for a pilot.”


“It has sufficient pitch and power to remind you what flying is all about”

The pilot: Mark Griffiths is a first officer, based in London. He flies the Citation XL/XLS fleet for London Executive Aviation.

Mark previously had a successful career in civil engineering and property, before pursuing his dreams of a flying career in 2007 (having already gained his PPL while gliding). He first flew the XLS for a private owner before moving across to work with LEA, where he has been for three years.

What do you love about the Citation XL?: “From a pilot’s perspective, the Citation XL is a great aircraft to fly. On the occasions where you get to hand fly, it has sufficient pitch and power to remind you what flying is all about. Based in London, the XL can travel non-stop to Reyjavik, Moscow, Marrakech, and with a fair wind, Tenerife. It also has a stand-up cabin (as long as you’re not over six feet tall). The luggage capacity is astounding for a mid-size jet, and 700lbs can be carried in the hold.”

My favourite flights: The sheer variety of routes for a private jet pilot is what makes the job so interesting. And the wide popularity of the Citation XL means I have been to six Eastern Europe Airports that I have never flown to before – and that’s just in the last two weeks! I particularly enjoy the spectacular approach over the heart of London into London City airport.


“The Citation XL offers the perfect cocktail of private jet luxury, performance and cost”

The pilot: Adam Twidell is CEO of PrivateFly, and also flies the Citation XLS.

Having flown the Citation XL/XLS for ten years, Adam was previously a Royal Air Force pilot, flying the Hercules C130 aircraft, including a stint supporting the special forces. He then left the military to move across to corporate aviation. He founded PrivateFly in 2007, but still loves to fly (when the team let him out of the office!)

What’s the XL’s X-Factor?: “It’s been the best-selling private jet in the world for the best part of a decade, and it’s enduring appeal is because it offers the perfect cocktail of private jet luxury, performance and cost. Its value for money and cabin space are unmatched in its class. Last year I learned to fly the XLS+, which includes upgrades such as on-board wifi and improved onboard entertainment for passengers. And for pilots, the flight deck avionics (designed by Rockwell Collins) in the XLS+ is the ProLine 21. Converting across (from the previous Honeywell system) was similar to switching from a PC to an Apple Mac – so intuitive that it would be very hard to go back!”

My favourite flights: “For me the best routes involve short runways when the aircraft’s capability and your piloting skills are tested together. Enniskillen in Northern Ireland, Waterford in Southern Ireland and Guernsey in the Channel Islands are always favourites. As an added benefit, shorter runways tend to serve smaller communities, so the night stops are much more of a local travel experience than staying in a hotel close to major airports.”

For private jet charter prices on the Citation XL (or any other aircraft in the PrivateFly network) contact our Flight team on
+44 (0) 1747 642 777 (24 hours) or contact us.