Airbus opens North American ACJ center at Miami facility

 - September 13, 2006, 9:52 AM

In a bid to boost sales of the Airbus Corporate Jetliner (ACJ) in North and South America, Airbus last month opened a corporate jetliner center in the U.S. Located within the Airbus training center in Miami–which trains flight crew, maintenance staff and other personnel for the Americas–the business aviation facility allows potential customers to see firsthand the interior space of the ACJ line, namely the A318 Elite, ACJ (a 6,000-nm version of the A319) and A320 Prestige.

The corporate jetliner center features a fully equipped cabin-section mockup that demonstrates the greater width and volume that Airbus’ aircraft offer over the Gulfstream G550 and the Bombardier Global Express, not to mention Boeing’s rival bizliner, the Boeing Business Jet.

In addition to the cabin mockup, the new center houses offices for customer use. Airbus’ 100,000-sq-ft Miami training center also features five full-motion flight simulators–four for the narrowbodies and one for the A330/A340–a fixed-base simulator and five maintenance/flight-training devices.

Access to the Airbus corporate jetliner center is by appointment only; potential customers are invited to contact Airbus via e-mail at Those wishing to view the mockup will need to provide Airbus with brief details of their current operation, including aircraft and routes flown.

The Cabin Counts
According to Airbus, the ACJ series features a cabin that is about twice as wide as those of traditional corporate jets, giving customers almost three times the cabin volume. The A318 Elite retails for about $45 million (complete), while the ACJ is roughly $55 million and the A320 Prestige is in the neighborhood of $65 million.

Besides offering customers more cabin floor space, Airbus ACJ-series aircraft are wide enough to allow private rooms with a corridor beside them. Airbus said the more than seven-foot-tall cabin offers unrestricted headroom, in addition to giving customers the option of a domed ceiling.

Other key features of the Airbus ACJ series are the ability to divide the cabin into several separate zones. This is true of even the A318 Elite, which features four separate zones in the cabin–one for entourage, two in the main cabin and a private office.

Airbus said it sold 12 ACJ-series aircraft in the first half of this year, consisting of eight ACJs and four A318 Elites. Airbus also sold a VIP A330-200 Prestige, its second to date, taking total executive jet sales so far this year to 14–almost as many as the 15 booked in all of last year. Total ACJ-series sales now stand at around 70 aircraft, though orders from U.S. customers are lacking.

The airliner manufacturer says it delivered a total of five executive jets in the first half of the year, including the first for a U.S.-based customer, Pharmair of Florida, and the first for an Indian customer, the UB Group (parent company of Kingfisher Airlines). Both aircraft are currently being outfitted by Associated Air Center in Dallas. 

A318 Going Down a Steep Path

Airbus’ A318 (and the executive A318 Elite) is undergoing approval to make 5.5-degree steep approaches, such as that used into London City Airport. The steep approach approval, which included flight trials by the A318 into London City in mid-May, will enable the type to fly into airports that are constrained by surrounding obstacles or restrictive noise limits.

London City is just a few miles from the traditional financial center of the UK’s capital and even closer to the Canary Wharf business district, requiring the steep approach to mitigate aircraft noise footprints around the airport. The available landing distance at London City is 4,330 feet, which further complicates certification for the approach.

According to Airbus, A318 steep approach certification is planned for the “coming months,” following extensive flight trials with a testbed. The approval will cover the Airbus A318 powered by both Pratt & Whitney PW6000s and CFM International CFM56-5s.

Changes to the aircraft include fitting the A318 with a “steep approach” button in the cockpit and using some spoilers as airbrakes to generate the steeper glidepath angle. Additionally, the airliner’s Vref approach speed is increased by eight knots and its enhanced ground proximity warning system and traffic collision avoidance system are modified to eliminate “nuisance calls” during the steep approach procedure.