Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ) has teamed with recently formed Airbus Corporate Helicopters (ACH) to highlight the companies’ VIP airliners and rotorcraft and emphasize Airbus’s value proposition as the only manufacturer to offer both private jets and private helicopters.
“Somebody who might buy a helicopter might also buy a corporate jet and vice versa,” explained Benoit Defforge, ACJ president. “That’s why we’re co-branding.”
ACJ itself is on the verge of beginning deliveries of its next-generation corporate airliners—the re-engined, single-aisle ACJ320neo and ACJ319neo, and the widebody ACJ330neo and ACJ350 XWB.
The first ACJ320neo, purchased by the UK’s Acropolis Aviation, completed its first flight last month and is slated by year end for delivery to AMAC Aerospace in Basel, where the completion of the Albert Pinto-designed cabin will be performed. First delivery of the ACJ319neo is expected in the second quarter of 2019. The type certificate award for the ACJ330neo is expected next year, as well.
These developments could be especially welcome in MEBAA’s backyard.
“The Middle East market is the number one market for the ACJ,” Defforge said, noting that in the mid-1980s, the first ACJ was purchased by a customer from the region. Of some 190 in operation worldwide, 60 are based in the Middle East and North Africa, 40 of them single-aisle and 20 widebodies. Just over half are owned by private entities and the remainder by governments.
While single-aisle ACJs are much bigger and roomier than large-cabin business jets, “Our cost of operation can be up to ten percent lower,” claimed Defforge-thanks to an estimated 34 percent savings in maintenance and a 25 percent lower cost for crew expenses and training, he said.
The widebodies offer “non-stop to the world” range, along with a 6,000-foot cabin altitude, helping ensure travelers arrive refreshed from flights of up to 20 hours.
The ACJ350 XWB is a composite aircraft (like Boeing’s BBJ 787) and this year ACJ introduced the Easyfit program to simplify cabin installation. Easyfit incorporates hundreds of interior attach points to the fuselage as well as interfaces for easy connections to aircraft systems. With the cabin installation solution in place, Defforge said ACJ will commence actively marketing the ACJ350 XWB and hinted that an order announcement may be forthcoming by show’s end.
ACH, launched at EBACE in May, aims to mimic ACJ’s bespoke services for the corporate and high-net-worth individual rotorcraft market, while also providing complementary products for ACJ customers.
“If you’re going from one end of the world to another, the helicopter comes in for that last leg,” said Nitin Sareen, ACH head of marketing.
Currently, the company is developing the medium twin ACH160, the first of its next-generation helicopters, promising “unparalleled versatility and comfort,” Sareen said.
ACH offers three levels of interior outfitting: ACH Line, featuring simple, sporty interiors; ACH Exclusive, high-end luxury cabins; and ACH Edition, interiors developed in partnership with luxury brands including Hermes and Pagani. ACH has on static display a cabin mockup of an ACH145 outfitted with the Mercedes-Benz Style Edition.
Parent Airbus Helicopters currently has more than 50 percent market share of the global helicopter market, according to the company.