It would be easy to think demand for executive jets during a recession would be in decline, but according to private air charter sales and management company London Executive Aviation (LEA), demand is on the rise.

Executive aviation companies were probably the only airlines to benefit from the recent volcanic ash cloud.

According to the “LEA Business Travel Survey 2010”, more than 90% of customers questioned said convenience made business jets worthwhile and 49% preferred the privacy such craft offered.

Almost 35% of respondents said they booked private planes for routine business trips and 58% only needed an aircraft for between two and four passengers. Importantly, 55% said they expected to take more flights in 2010 than they did in 2009.

During the ILA Berlin Air Show in June this year, a conference, hosted by the German Aerospace Research Society (GARS), will discuss the economic and ecological impacts of the expanding business jet market. On the agenda are issues including alternative financing models, airport capacity, environmental concerns and the challenges facing very-light-jet operators.

With this in mind, we decided to list some of the top business jets on the market this year.

“More than 90% of customers questioned said convenience made business jets worthwhile.”

Bombardier Global 5000

The Bombardier Global 5000, from the manufacturer of the Learjet, first took off in 2003 and has been a popular choice with executive airlines ever since. In 2008 it underwent an upgrade to extend its flight range by 741km to 9,630km. It is now powered by a pair of Rolls-Royce BR710A2-20 turbofan engines.

Requiring only a 1,500m runway, the Global 5000, which can carry between eight to 19 passengers, is capable of landing on smaller airfields near to business centres.

Daher Socata TBM 850

The TBM 850 was first launched in 2006 and was the replacement for the TBM 700 series and is reported to be the fastest turboprop aircraft in the world. It is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney PT6A-66D and is capable of speeds of up to 368mph. It can carry up to six passengers, has a range of almost 1,600nm and can land and take off on runways as short as 2,100m.

Cessna Citation CJ1+

Accommodating up to six passengers, the Cessna CJ1 uses twin Williams FJ44-1AP engines that each produce 11.08kN of thrust. This allows the plane to travel at speeds of up to 447mph and its fuel capacity of 247kg gives it a range of up to 1,300 nm.

The CJ1 came into service in 2004. Today it uses a Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 flight deck and can use runways of just under 1,000m.

Cessna Citation CJ2+

The CJ2, the successor to the CJ1, first entered service in 2006 and reached its landmark 101st delivery in 2008. It uses a pair of the more powerful Williams FJ44-3A-24 engines, which produce the same thrust as the CJ1, but can achieve a higher top speed of 481mph. Seating up to eight passengers, it has a range of 1,613nm and can take off and land on runways of just over 1,000m

Cessna Citation CJ3

The inaugural flight of the CJ3 took place in 2004 and by the end of 2008 Cessna has 230 confirmed orders for this seven-seater aircraft.

The twin Williams FJ44-3A engines produce 12.54kN of thrust, which can propel it to speeds of up to 479mph over a range of 1,875nm. Despite its larger size, compared with the CJ1 and CJ2, the CJ3 uses a shorter runway and can take off in just 969m.

Cessna Citation CJ4

Launched in 2010, the CJ4 features two Williams FJ44-4A engines generating 16.11kN of thrust each allowing it to achieve speeds of up to 521mph.

Carrying between four and eight passengers, the plane has a range of 2,002nm and requires only a 950m-long runway. The CJ4 was officially unveiled at the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibit (EBACE) in May 2010 after taking its first ever flight in August 2008.

Piper Meridian PA46 TP

This single-engine turboprop aircraft can accommodate up to six passengers and now uses a Pratt & Whitney PA46 TP engine rather than the original PA6A-42A. Using Garmin and Avidyne avionics systems, the PA46 TP has a maximum cruising speed of 300mph and a range of 1,000nm.

It entered into service in 2004 and by 2005 160 of the piston engines had been converted to the more powerful PA46.

“Almost 35% of survey respondents said they booked private planes for routine business trips.”

Gulfstream G550

This ultra-long-range business jet is being displayed at the Berlin Air Show as a converted scientific plane by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR).

Its twin-enhanced Rolls-Royce BR710 turbofan engines produce 68.4kN of thrust each and can propel the G550 to speeds of Mach 0.8. Suitable for up to eight passengers the G550 has a range of 6,750nm and can land on a runway of approximately 1,800m.

Gulfstream G650

The G650 was in the news in early 2010, breaking the record for the fastest civil aircraft, reaching a top speed of Mach 0.925. Equipped to accommodate between 11 and 18 passengers, the G650 is set to become operational in 2012.

According to Gulfstream they already have more than 100 confirmed orders for the G650 and a further 400 letters of intent have been received.

Using a pair of Rolls-Royce BR725A1-12 engines, the plane has a range of just under 7,000nm.

Dassault Falcon 20E

The German Aerospace Centre (DLR) are also offering another executive jet that has been converted for scientific use, a Dassault Falcon 20, or as it will be known at Berlin a Dassault Falcon 20E.

As a business jet, it can carry between eight and 14 passengers, using two rear-mounted General Electric CF700-2D-2 turbofan engines to get it up to speeds of 536mph. Originally powered by the Pratt and Whitney JT12A-8, the plane has a range of 1,808nm.