The Airbus ACJ318 in the ABACE static display represents the first time Airbus has shown one of its business jets in Shanghai. The ACJ318, which is owned by Al Jaber Aviation, flew from its base in Abu Dhabi to Shanghai on Saturday, and it is available for demo flights to prospective customers during and after the ABACE show, said Airbus.
There are eight ACJs already based in China and Airbus has sold more than 20 ACJs here in total. “What does make a difference is that all our aircraft were certified in China early on,” said Francois Chazelle, Airbus vice president of executive and private aviation. This makes it easier for Airbus owners and operators to obtain Chinese registration and thus have access to more direct air routes and destinations, and also lower taxes.
The eight Airbuses include a combination of ACJ318s, ACJ319s and ACJ320s. Both Deer Jet and TAG Asia operate ACJ319s that are available for private charters: Deer Jet has two ACJ319s, based in Beijing, while TAG bases its ACJ319 in Hong Kong. One of Deer Jet’s ACJ319s is capable of operating to Tibet’s Lhasa Gonggar Airport which, at an altitude of 11,710 feet (3,569 meters), is one of the highest in the world. Deer Jet’s first ACJ, an ACJ319, was introduced in May last year and seats up to 28 passengers in lie-flat seats.
Airbus expects to continue selling ACJs into China at a rate of around five jets per year. An interior outfitting option that is expected to be popular for Chinese customers is the Phoenix interior, which includes a round dining table with seating for six. This is possible only because of the ACJ’s wide cabin, said Chazelle. The table features a rotating center platform and also folds into a square for airborne Mahjong tournaments. The private office in the aircraft can also double as a Karaoke bar. “The first ACJ cabin for a Chinese customer had a Karaoke bar,” Chazelle said. “I know because I had to sing there,” he quipped.
“From the outside, an ACJ takes up the same space on the ramp as a traditional business jet,” said Chazelle. “The big difference is inside, with three times more volume than traditional business jets.”
For Chinese buyers ready to order an ACJ, Airbus has already carved out positions in Airbus’s narrowbody production line, according to Chazelle, and a delivery could be arranged by mid-2013, with an additional six months being required to outfit the interior. For buyers who want their new ACJ finished by a local company, Xiamen-based Taeco was approved as an Airbus completion center last year.