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Bill Gates: Unveiling the Mystery Behind His Private Jet Collection

Bill Gates: Unveiling the Mystery Behind His Private Jet Collection

Private jets are the go-to mode of transportation for high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals. This is mainly because, as their name suggests, they offer unparalleled tailored and confidential transport, allowing their owners to travel to almost every commercial airfield worldwide.

A Gulfstream G650 on an airport apron with mountains in the background.

Photo : Mike Fuchslocher | Shutterstock

Their configuration often includes a set of seats facing each other, unlike on commercial airliners. This allows conversations to happen more smoothly, thus creating an ideal atmosphere for company business.

It therefore comes as no surprise that Bill Gates, one of the world’s wealthiest and most influential individuals who founded Microsoft, and his wife own jets to facilitate their global travel. Although he is no longer at the helm of the tech giant, he is often invited to speak at summits like the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He attends humanitarian conferences through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Today, we will examine their aircraft fleet, characteristics, and unit prices.

The Gulfstream G650 family – The current jets of the Gates

According to Jetspy, the aircraft is registered as November 8-8-7-Whiskey-Mike, and according to the Federal Aviation Administration registry, it was registered on 03/29/2019. It is a state-of-the-art G650ER, a modernized member of the flagship G-VI.

Similarly, his wife owns the G650ER. As for his wife, the tail number is N194WM. According to the FAA, this aircraft is newer than her husband’s, registered in 2022.

What are the characteristics of the G650ER?

According to Globalair, this Savannah-made aircraft is super performant and has a range of 7,095 NM. As per the FAA, the airframe is registered in Seattle, so using KSEA as a hypothetical base, Gate’s jet can reach cities worldwide in one tank, such as Doha, Tokyo, Cario, Paris, and Auckland. Bill Gates can travel to any major city worldwide with just one tech stop.

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According to Guardian Jet, the G-IV has 19 seats, which makes readers wonder why such capacity may be needed – after all, it is assumed people travel alone in these jets.

While it may be true, and we don’t know about Mr Gates and his family, let’s assume he has aides and security. The security staff would need to travel with the protected at all times, and select aides and staff members may need to travel with the celebrity to discuss and brief meetings before arrival. This represents a dozen or so individuals, plus at least one cabin attendant – considering this, the G650ER, just like any other heavy jet, is ideal for people like the subject of today’s article.

How much does it cost?

With all this in mind, let’s examine the cost of ownership of these jets. First, discuss the variable costs that Gates and all other G650ER owners and operators may face when operating the plane.

Gulfstream G650
Photo: Gulfstream

When bought new, the aircraft is worth more than $70M, but a good strategy to pay less would be to turn to the second-hand market, as the jets will still be rarely new—some of the oldest models available were only produced in 2016.

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According to the Aircraft Cost Calculator, the average price for a pre-owned GULFSTREAM G650ER, depending on various factors, is $41,950,000.00.

Just like for cars, most people cannot buy the jet outright. Although Bill Gates is one of the Top 5 wealthiest individuals alive today, he and his wife may be one of the few exceptions. Still, most operators and individual owners will take out a loan, representing around $20,975,000.00 over 120 months, including $87395.83 per month in interest, which results in a $1,051,764.41 per-period payment.

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In terms of actual ownership costs, a typical 450 annual owner-operated hours and a fuel cost of $6.00 per gallon, the G650ER has total variable costs of $2,395,350.00, total fixed costs of $1,249,151.00, and an annual budget of $3,644,501.00, amounting to $8,098.89 per hour.

According to controller.com, the cheapest G650ER on the second-hand market when writing asks for $42 million. Simple Flying couldn’t independently verify the maintenance cost of the aircraft; although the model is relatively new, it may be lower than previous generation Gulfstreams.

What jets did Bill and Melinda Gates used to own?

The G650ER is not the only jet the couple has ever owned. Jets have been a hallmark of Silicon Valley for the past few decades. We covered them in depth in a previous article, but here are some notable ones.

Bombardier Challenger 350 - NetJets in Samedan/Switzerland shutterstock_786935845
Bombardier Challeger 350
Bombardier Challenger 350 - NetJets in Samedan/Switzerland shutterstock_786935845
Bombardier Challeger 350

He is also a member of NetJets, a fractional ownership company, and reportedly owns some Challenger 350s. Gates’ Bombardier Challenger 350s are owned through his partnership with NetJets, which sells fractional ownership shares in private business jets. They are registered as N769QS and N754QS and were manufactured in 2015 and 2018, respectively. The Challenger 350 claims to have the most significant and quietest cabin in its class and can carry up to ten passengers. It has a maximum range of 3,200 NM or 5,900 km and a top speed of 0.83 Mach.

A Gulfstream G650 flying in the sky.

The philanthropist and author has at least three jets, two helicopters, and an amphibious prop plane.

The Gates family also has a collection of intriguing games, highlighting their fascination with aviation. One such exotic aircraft is their small propeller plane, which was acquired at the end of last year to replace an existing floatplane of the same type. A Cessna 208 Amphibian Caravan seaplane, registered N897WM, was also acquired.

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Bottom line

Private jets are the preferred mode of transport for high-net-worth individuals like Bill Gates, who uses a Gulfstream G-IV and G650ER. The G650ER has a range of 7,095 NM and 19 seats, ideal for his travel needs. The average price for a pre-owned G650ER is $41,950,000.00. Gates also owns Challenger 350s through NetJets and a Cessna 208 Amphibian Caravan seaplane.

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