Airbus’ VIP Completions Facility Strives To Offer Latest Hi-tech Gadgets
The Airbus Corporate Jet Centre (ACJC) is stepping up efforts to offer the latest in TV, on-board Internet and telecommunications technology, as customers are consistently asking for electronics in their aircraft that have become commonplace on the ground. The Toulouse-based VIP completion facility (Stand 7070) has reached its target production rate of around four new cabins per year. It is working on new Airbus ACJ interiors and is also offering upgrades and refurbishments for all VIP-configured Airbuses.
Trends in customer demand include TV, wireless, high-performance Internet connectivity, in-flight use of GSM cell phones and high-definition multimedia interfaces (HDMI), according to the company. In addition, customers are requesting iPad tablets to be used as remote controls for in-flight entertainment, lighting, cabin air temperature, and so forth. “Customers tend to request the gizmos they use at home but it takes time to have them certified,” Bruno Galzin, head of sales and marketing, told AIN, but there is a log in availability for that technology aboard an aircraft.
This year, ACJC plans to deliver five cabins–all on ACJ319s. The first of them, for 18 passengers, was handed over to operator Comlux in early February. In its forward area, a bedroom features two movable beds–in either two single bed or one double-bed format–that also provide storage. The aft section, an executive zone, has 12 full-flat, electrically actuated cocoon seats, each equipped with 15-inch video screens. ACJC is also touting the “cabin weight-saving plan” it performed to provide this aircraft with extended range.
The telephony system available offers “top-quality sound” with WiFi handsets. It also offers connectivity based on a complete SwiftBroadband satcom service. The video system uses HDMI wiring. Passengers in VIP zones enjoy 1080p-standard images, and the forward lounge has a 52-inch full HD display.
ACJC has, so far, received two firm orders for completions for next year; in 2011 it completed three new cabins. Some of the cabins it is manufacturing are designed in-house by ACJC’s resident designer Sylvain Mariat.
In addition to new cabin outfitting, the ACJC is seeing its upgrade and refurbishment business growing. For example, it is refurbishing an aircraft with new seats, carpets, and so forth, and it will soon be outfitted with an upgraded satellite communications kit with WiFi and SwiftBroadband for higher-speed Internet service.
By year end, the company plans to offer Alna V2, a connectivity system that provides a platform for both airborne mobile telephony and Internet services. According to Galzin, that will help reduce the number of “boxes” on board.
ACJC employs 215 people and is recruiting another 40, so its total workforce should number more than 250 by year-end. The company’s 100,000 sq ft of hangars, on the site of former EADS subsidiary Sogerma, give it capacity for working on six aircraft simultaneously.
The completions house now has a “strong operational link” with Airbus Corporate Jets, a recently formed Airbus business unit. Commercial, program and support activities are regrouped into a single unit, therefore, Airbus can make complete offerings, including completions, just like other business aircraft manufacturers.