Farnborough Air Show

Airbus opens U.S. center for exec jets

 - November 27, 2006, 6:14 AM

Last Monday, Airbus showed to the press its recently opened corporate jetliner center in the U.S. Located within the Airbus training center in Miami, Florida– which trains flight crew, maintenance staff and other personnel for the Americas–the business aviation facility allows potential customers to see first hand the extra space and comfort of its Airbus Corporate Jetliner family, 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 its 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 Airbus center also features offices for customer use. Airbus’ 100,000 square foot Miami training center features five full-motion flight simulators–four for the A320/ACJ family and one for the A330/A340 family–as well as a fixed-base simulator and five maintenance/ flight-training devices.

The Cabin Counts

According to Airbus, the ACJ family members feature a cabin that is about twice as wide as traditional corporate jets, giving customers almost three times the cabin volume and making them the best value option at the top end of the market. The A318 Elite retails for about $45 million (complete), while the ACJ is roughly $55 million and the A320 Prestige is in the $65 million neighborhood.

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

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

ACJ orders are approaching 70, the European manufacturer having booked 12 in the first six months of 2006, compared with 15 orders received in the whole of last year. The family comprises, in increasing size, the A318 Elite, A319-based ACJ and A320 Prestige.

During January to June, Airbus logged orders for eight ACJs, including two for the government of the Czech Republic and single aircraft for Austrian operators Jet Alliance and the Stumpf Group, and for four A318 Elites, including two for Saudi Arabia’s National Aviation Services and one for Jet Alliance. Customers for the remaining four ACJs and single A318 Elite have not been identified. Airbus also received its second order for an A330-200 Prestige.

In this year’s first half, Airbus also delivered five corporate jets, including single examples for first U.S.-based customer Pharmair of Florida and first Indian customer UB Group, owner of Kingfisher Airlines. Texan completion firm Associated Air Center–one of four such facilities approved by Airbus–is outfitting both machines.