The A318 Elite debut here also serves to showcase the airplane’s first interior by Hamburg, Germany-based interiors specialist Lufthansa Technik (LHT).
A Lufthansa Technik design team led by Alexandra Broekelmann worked closely with Comlux to create a cabin that was functional within standardized parameters, but that also retained the distinctive feel of a more highly personalized and costly private jet cabin.
While the galley is forward and opposite the cabin door, it is completely enclosed to allow for a stylish foyer rather than a kitchen. The team worked toward a seamless transition between hard and soft elements within the cabin to provide a more dramatic experience. Light emitting diode (LED) lighting is used throughout the cabin and is complemented by mood-lighting choices to enhance dining, relaxing and entertaining.
Bulkheads in the Comlux airplane contain one 42-inch, one 30-inch and four 20-inch LCD screens.
Low coffee tables convert to dining tables by means of fold-out wings and an elevating mechanism.
At Lufthansa Technik’s suggestion, Comlux chose to go with a film finish on sidewalls, cabinetry and bulks that replicates not only the high-gloss or satin matte finish of wood veneer, but virtually any other finish. It offers the charter operator not only “unlimited design possibilities [but] an immense advantage in terms of durability and maintenance,” said a Lufthansa spokesman.
According to Lufthansa Technik, the “standardization” of the cabin greatly facilitates the cabin completion process. The first airplane was finished in four months. The center is already gearing up to meet growing demand as the Airbus order book expands past 20 airplanes. According to LHT senior v-p of marketing and sales Walter Heerdt, the facility expects to take in its second green A318 this year and a third in early 2008. Plans are to expand the A318 Elite completion process to two interior assembly lines capable of turning out six aircraft a year.
“Now with more than 20 A318 Elites on order [it is obvious] the market was ready for a standardized VIP interior which is available on shorter notice for a very competitive price,” Heerdt said. The A318 Elite is priced at $47 million typically equipped, compared with a $49 million price tag tied to its older and larger sister, the ACJ, to which another $10 million or so can be added for the interior completion.
Among the most recent Elite orders is one for six airplanes from Petters Group Worldwide, a privately held global investment company. Minnetonka. Minnesota-based Petters is the U.S. launch customer for the A318 Elite. “This aircraft...with U.S. [nonstop] transcontinental range, as well as London/New York capability, is well suited to the American market,” said Petters Group CEO and chairman Tom Petters.
Petters Group expects to take delivery of the first A318 Elite in 2008 and the second in the second quarter 2009.