Light Jet Showdown: HondaJet Elite vs. Citation CJ3+

private plane flying on the ocean and forest

As you begin your search for an efficient light jet to meet your private travel needs, two models rise to the top of the list: the HondaJet Elite and Citation CJ3+. Both boast impressive performance capabilities and comfort amenities making them prime options for charter clients interested in regional travel.

However, when considering range, cabin features, operating costs, and safety, distinct differences emerge that may make one aircraft better suited to your priorities. This piece provides an in-depth comparison between the two jets, analyzing how they stack up across critical factors so you can determine the ideal light jet for your next charter.

Performance and Range

The HondaJet Elite’s innovative over-the-wing engine mount design improves aerodynamics and fuel efficiency, allowing for a maximum speed of 486 mph and range of 1,437 nautical miles. This makes the HondaJet Elite suitable for short to mid-range trips while reducing operating costs.

In comparison, the Citation CJ3+ offers a slightly higher maximum range of 2,040 nautical miles and top speed of 478 mph. While marginally slower, the CJ3+ would be better suited for longer regional flights where the extra range is necessary.

For private charter clients seeking an economical jet to travel 500 nautical miles or less, the HondaJet Elite’s combination of speed and efficiency is hard to beat. Its reduced fuel burn and lower maintenance needs can translate into meaningful cost savings for high-frequency travelers over the lifetime of the aircraft.

However, for those requiring the ability to fly up to 1,000 nautical miles nonstop at a moment’s notice, the Citation CJ3+’s additional range may justify any differences in operating costs. The CJ3+ also continues to lead in terms of payload, able to carry up to nine passengers with a full fuel tank compared to seven in the HondaJet Elite.

Overall, while both the HondaJet Elite and Citation CJ3+ are high-performance, cost-effective options for regional business travel, your specific needs regarding range, passenger capacity and budget will determine which light jet is the better choice for your charter flight.

Cabin Comfort and Amenities

Honda EliteJet private plane

Spaciousness and Customization

The HondaJet Elite and Citation CJ3+ both offer spacious cabins that can be customized to suit specific needs. The HondaJet Elite has the widest fuselage of any light jet, creating an open interior that comfortably seats up to seven passengers.

The CJ3+ is also renowned for its superior head and legroom, seating up to nine passengers. Both cabins can be outfitted with a variety of seating configurations and custom features.

In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity

For productivity and entertainment, the HondaJet Elite and CJ3+ come equipped with advanced cabin technology. The HondaJet Elite includes a 3D moving map display, Blu-Ray player, and high-speed satellite-based Wi-Fi connectivity.

Similarly, the CJ3+ offers touch-screen cabin controls, moving map displays, satellite phone, and wireless internet. These amenities allow passengers to stay connected and entertained throughout long flights.


An important factor for longer flights is the lavatory facilities. The HondaJet Elite includes a fully enclosed lavatory, a first in its class, providing maximum privacy. While the CJ3+ also has an enclosed lavatory, the HondaJet Elite’s innovative design receives high praise from customers.

For charter clients and frequent flyers, comfort, spaciousness and lavatory privacy are essential to an enjoyable flight experience. Overall, the HondaJet Elite and Citation CJ3+ offer premium levels of comfort through spacious, customizable cabins with state-of-the-art technology and amenities.

For individuals and businesses seeking an efficient yet high-quality charter jet, either aircraft would serve well for regional and mid-range travel needs. The HondaJet Elite’s innovative and passenger-focused design may give it a slight edge, but with similar performance and operating costs, the final choice comes down to specific preferences and priorities.

Operating Costs and Efficiency

Fuel Consumption

When it comes to operating costs, fuel efficiency is paramount. The HondaJet Elite is renowned for its innovative over-the-wing engine mount design, which improves aerodynamics and reduces drag, allowing it to achieve up to 15 percent greater fuel efficiency compared to other similarly sized jets. This translates into significant cost savings for operators and clients over the lifetime of the aircraft.

The Citation CJ3+ also prioritizes fuel efficiency, with winglets and optimized engine performance enabling it to achieve a range of over 2,000 nautical miles while burning less than 400 gallons of fuel per hour. However, the HondaJet Elite’s cutting-edge design provides it a slight edge in this category.

Maintenance Requirements

In addition to fuel costs, maintenance requirements substantially impact the operating expenses of private jets. The HondaJet Elite is designed to minimize downtime and reduce service needs. It features a durable composite fuselage and simplified systems with fewer moving parts. Routine maintenance checks can be performed in just a couple of hours.

The Citation CJ3+ also benefits from simplified systems and robust components that require minimal maintenance. While still highly reliable and cost-effective to operate, its airframe and engines are slightly more complex than the HondaJet Elite, resulting in somewhat higher maintenance costs over the lifetime of the aircraft.

Additional Fees

Other fees to consider include hangar rental, insurance, and pilot salaries. The HondaJet Elite and Citation CJ3+ have comparable requirements in these areas. Landing and handling fees may vary slightly based on the specifications of each aircraft, such as maximum takeoff weight and wingspan.

In general, however, both jets offer highly competitive operating costs for their class, making them accessible and budget-friendly options for charter clients and owner-operators.

Safety and Reliability

Both the HondaJet Elite and the Citation CJ3+ are renowned for their safety and reliability. As pioneers in aviation technology, Honda Aircraft Company and Cessna Aircraft Company have long-standing reputations for building aircraft with state-of-the-art avionics and autopilot systems to ensure maximum safety for passengers and crew.

Avionics and Autopilot

The HondaJet Elite comes equipped with a highly advanced avionics suite called the HondaJet Elite Garmin® G3000 avionics system. This provides critical flight data and navigation information to pilots on large format displays with intuitive touchscreen controls.

It also includes autopilot and autothrottle capabilities for precision and automated control of the aircraft during all phases of flight. Similarly, the Citation CJ3+ includes the Collins Pro Line 21 avionics system and an integrated autopilot that provides lateral and vertical navigation for precision flight control and guidance during climb, cruise, descent and approach.


Both aircraft have been certified under the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 23 certification standards for normal, utility, aerobatic, and commuter category airplanes. This ensures they meet or exceed the highest standards for aircraft safety, reliability and performance.

The HondaJet Elite received its type certification in 2015, while the Citation CJ3+ was certified in 2004 and received upgrades to its avionics and engine in 2010. With impressive safety records and time-tested designs, either the HondaJet Elite or Citation CJ3+ would provide charter clients the utmost confidence and peace of mind on any regional flight.

Their advanced avionics and autopilot systems allow for a high degree of automation and precision control to ensure passenger safety and comfort at all times. Overall, safety and reliability are clearly hallmarks of both aircraft.

Light Jet Fleet

When determining the optimal light jet for your charter flights, two top contenders are the HondaJet Elite and the Citation CJ3+. Both models provide an unparalleled combination of performance, comfort, and efficiency for regional travel.

Performance and Range

The HondaJet Elite is renowned for its innovative over-the-wing engine mount configuration, which improves aerodynamics and increases speed and fuel efficiency. It has a range of 1,437 nautical miles and can reach a maximum speed of 486 mph, making it suitable for short-range flights. In comparison, the Citation CJ3+ offers slightly higher performance, with a range of 2,040 nautical miles and a top speed of 478 mph, suitable for longer regional trips.

Cabin Comfort and Amenities

The HondaJet Elite features a cabin designed to maximize comfort and productivity. It includes a fully enclosed lavatory, a first in its class, as well as advanced in-flight entertainment and connectivity. The Citation CJ3+ also prioritizes passenger comfort with superior head and legroom, touch-screen cabin controls, and high-speed wireless internet.

Operating Costs and Efficiency

Both aircraft are recognized as extremely cost-effective to operate, but the HondaJet Elite is often distinguished by its lower operating costs stemming from improved fuel efficiency and reduced maintenance needs. This makes it an appealing choice for companies seeking to control travel expenses.

Safety and Reliability

Safety is a top priority for both Honda Aircraft Company and Cessna, with pristine safety records and a commitment to the highest reliability standards. Advanced avionics and autopilot systems provide an additional layer of safety for passengers.

In summary, while the Citation CJ3+ marginally outperforms the HondaJet Elite, the HondaJet Elite’s lower operating costs and innovative design may render it more suitable and budget-friendly for certain operators and missions. For charter clients seeking a balance of performance, comfort, and value in a light jet platform, either aircraft would make an exceptional choice.

Light Jet Advantages

Cessna Citation CJ3 private jet

Flying in light jets, like the HondaJet Elite and Citation CJ3+, provides certain benefits over commercial flights or larger aircraft.


For charter clients and businesses on tight travel budgets, light jets are appealing options due to their lower operating costs and fuel efficiency. Both the HondaJet Elite and Citation CJ3+ are recognized as two of the most cost-effective light jets to operate.

The HondaJet Elite, in particular, is touted for its innovative design that improves aerodynamics and reduces drag, allowing it to reach higher speeds while burning less fuel. This results in fewer emissions and a smaller carbon footprint.

Streamlined Travel

Light jets can access smaller regional airports that are often more conveniently located near a traveler’s final destination. This avoids the hassle of connecting through large commercial hubs and saves valuable travel time. The HondaJet Elite and Citation CJ3+ have sufficient range to fly direct from origin to smaller regional airports across much of the U.S. and parts of Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

Enhanced Productivity

For business travelers, the ability to conduct work efficiently while in transit is essential. The advanced cabin technology and amenities on both the HondaJet Elite and Citation CJ3+ provide the connectivity and productivity features of a mobile office.

Features such as wireless internet, touch-screen controls, worktables and charging stations allow travelers to make the most of flight time.

The combination of lower costs, streamlined travel to smaller airports, and enhanced productivity features make light jets like the HondaJet Elite and Citation CJ3+ optimal for short-to-mid-range travel. For charter clients and businesses looking to balance budget and performance, light jets present an appealing private aviation solution.

Light Jet FAQs

What are the operating costs of the HondaJet Elite versus the Citation CJ3+?

The HondaJet Elite is recognized for its lower operating costs compared to other light jets. It requires less fuel due to its innovative over-the-wing engine mount design and aerodynamic fuselage, which provides up to 15% greater fuel efficiency.

Maintenance costs are also lower. The CJ3+, while still cost-effective, has slightly higher operating costs. Fuel consumption is greater due to its larger engines and airframe. However, it does have lower engine maintenance requirements as it uses the same Williams FJ44 engines as the HondaJet Elite.

How do the cabins and amenities of the HondaJet Elite and Citation CJ3+ compare?

The HondaJet Elite features a spacious, ergonomically-designed cabin recognized for its low noise levels and comfort. It includes a fully private lavatory, Wi-Fi, and advanced in-flight entertainment systems.

In contrast, the CJ3+ has a classic, high-quality cabin known for generous head and legroom, touch-screen controls, and wireless internet. While the CJ3+ cabin is highly rated, the HondaJet Elite is considered the leader in its class for cabin comfort and technology.

How do the performance and safety of the HondaJet Elite and Citation CJ3+ compare?

The HondaJet Elite has a higher maximum cruise speed of 486 mph and range of 1,437 nm compared to 478 mph and 2,040 nm for the CJ3+, making it better suited for short-haul flights. However, the CJ3+ has a performance advantage for longer regional flights.

Both aircraft have exemplary safety records and feature cutting-edge avionics and autopilot systems to ensure maximum safety, reliability and performance. The HondaJet Elite is the first aircraft in its class with a full fly-by-wire flight control system, providing an extra layer of safety through reduced pilot workload and error.

In summary, while the Citation CJ3+ and HondaJet Elite are both top light jets, the HondaJet Elite has significant advantages in operating efficiency, cabin comfort, and safety due to its innovative design. For most charter clients and small businesses seeking an advanced light jet for regional travel, the HondaJet Elite would likely prove the superior choice.


You now have a comprehensive look at two of the most popular and capable light jets on the market. When choosing between the HondaJet Elite and the Citation CJ3+ for your private air travel needs, carefully weigh factors like performance, cabin comfort, operating costs, and safety. For shorter regional trips where fuel efficiency and budget management are priorities, the HondaJet Elite’s innovative design may give it an advantage.

Yet the Citation offers greater range and a spacious, luxurious cabin for longer flights. Whichever you select, you can expect an optimal light jet experience that suits your unique travel requirements. Moving forward, don’t hesitate to enlist a trusted aviation professional to help further compare these two impressive aircraft.

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