Bill Gates has caused quite a bit of debate with his private jet travel. The Microsoft founder turned climate activist owns no less than four business jets, which he calls his ‘guilty pleasure’. His collection is worth close to $200 million and features not one but two Gulfstream G650s. What’s more, he has just invested billions of dollars in the world’s largest business jet service provider.
Billionaire Bill Gates has written a book called How To Avoid Climate Disaster. In it, he confesses to being an ‘imperfect messenger’ as he lives in large houses and travels by private jet. A study conducted by Lund University in Sweden showed that in 2017, Bill Gates took 59 flights by private jet, emitting about 1,600 tonnes of CO2, compared to the global average of fewer than five tonnes per person.
Gates has defended his use of the exclusive means of transportation, saying that he offsets his carbon emissions by buying clean aviation fuel and funding carbon capture. Having bought his first Bombardier BD-700 Global Express in 1997, Gates says that travel by private jet is his ‘guilty pleasure’. However, just which aircraft does he own today that is sparking the controversy?
According to Private Jet Charter, the Microsoft founder owns four private jets. His collection is made up partly of not one but two Gulfstream G650ERs, which tally in at close to $70 million each. The other two are Bombardier Challenger 350s, which come in at a, comparatively, mere $27 million apiece.
Personal registrations for the GVIs
Gates’ most recent additions to his private fleet are two Gulfstream G650ERs, both hidden from public flight radar tracking sites. They are both under four years old, built in 2018, and replaced his previous two Bombardier 700 Global Express jets.
One is registered as N887WM and the other as N194WM with a company called MENTE LLC. The WM most likely stands for William and Melinda, and the couple met in 1987 and were married in 1994.
The G650 can fit 11 to 18 passengers, and the extra range edition has a maximum range of 7,500 NM or 13,890 km. It burns about 450 gallons of fuel per hour and can hit maximum speeds of Mach 0.90. The jet holds the fastest and farthest record for a business jet, flying between Singapore and Tucson, Arizona, in 15 hours and 23 minutes in 2019.
Gates’ Gulfstream VIs have four areas for work, entertainment, and relaxation. Hand-crafted leather seats turn into beds, and the jet can sleep up to ten people. There are over 400 Gulfstream G650s in service globally. One of them belongs to the wealthiest man in the world, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.
Bombardiers through NetJets
Gates’ Bombardier Challenger 350s are owned through his partnership with NetJets, a company that sells fractional ownership shares in private business jets. They are registered as N769QS and N754QS. The Challenger 350s claim the largest 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.
Furthermore, Bill Gates has a Eurocopter EC 135, which he lands at his floating helipad on Lake Washington, and a small Cessna 208 Amphibian Caravan seaplane.
Signature Aviation investment
Meanwhile, early this year, Gates’ company Cascade Investment agreed to team up with Blackstone and private equity firm Global Infrastructure Partners in a $4.7 billion deal for the world’s largest private jet service company, Signature Aviation. While mostly using his own jets for work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, investing in business jet maintenance might be more difficult when justifying overall CO2 contribution.
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