At the ABACE show in Shanghai last month, Airbus Corporate Jets introduced a new model of its ACJ319 aimed at easing the buying process for its customers, and in its press conference yesterday the Toulouse-based manufacturer debuted the design to the European market. The derivative, known as the ACJ319 Elegance, has received strong interest from the Asian market after its launch, according to the company.
The new concept relieves the customer of some of the nearly endless design decisions in a new modular cabin that still allows them to choose from a wide range of lounge, office, dining and conference configurations. While the airframer acknowledges that some of its customers appreciate the challenge of making all the decisions required to completely outfit an aircraft, such as would be required for the fully customizable version of the 319, there are others that don’t want to invest the time and effort. “There are some that want simplicity, speed and savings,” David Velupillai, the company’s marketing director, told AIN. Based on its research, Airbus (Booth 6613) realized that most customers basically want the same things in their aircraft, so its modular system will help them quickly narrow down what they are seeking.
“The ACJ319 Elegance has a fixed front and back, you get a bedroom and a bathroom at the back and at the front you’ve got a galley, two bathrooms and a crew rest,” Velupillai said. “Then you as a customer choose what you put in the middle.” Despite the modular approach, there remains vast scope for personal customization in the three remaining cabin zones, including choices of colors. An additional benefit easing the planning process is that the weight and center of gravity calculations for the modules will have already been done. “It’s simpler, quicker but still giving the customer essentially what they want,” Velupillai noted. Another benefit to the modular interior will be simplifying future upgrades and allowing easy changes by new owners in case the jet is sold. Other design changes on the Elegance include wider, circular window surrounds to allow more natural light and reduce shadows, a cabin-length domed ceiling and transversal lighting strips, which along with the repositioning of air ducts to the ceiling allowed the manufacturer to dispense with side valance panels, thus adding several extra inches to the cabin interior width.
As for pricing of the Elegance, there will be a savings potential for customers, according to Benoit Defforge, who was recently named president of Airbus Corporate Jets. “The fully customized cabin on the 319 is around $85 to $90 million, so what we are targeting at the time is to go in between $75 to $80 [million], depending on the options that you have on the aircraft” he said. The Elegance will slot between the A318 Elite and the fully customizable A319 in Airbus’s product lineup.
All the aircraft will be completed by Airbus Corporate Jet Center (ACJC), the manufacturer’s cabin outfitting and maintenance subsidiary in Toulouse, France, which developed the concept. The company is now prepared to begin taking orders. According to Defforge who continues in his role as head of ACJC, the first aircraft will take 20 months from order to completion, while the company aims towards a target of 16 months for future deliveries.
Airbus has sold 170 of its corporate jets worldwide, including the K5 Aviation ACJ319 on display here at the show, which features seating for 19 passengers. Its cabin contains several lounges including one that transforms into a bedroom complete with ensuite bathroom. o