For many prospective Middle East private aviation consumers, this year’s Dubai Airshow will present the first chance to see both the latest ACJ A320neo and the ACJ TwoTwenty from Airbus. The airliner-sized VIP aircraft both offer the sort of space and luxury that high-net-worth travelers in the region have historically craved.
Airbus Corporate Jets (Stand 1050) launched the ACJ TwoTwenty last year and, with six orders on the books, the first fuselage arrived at the company’s final assembly line in Montreal in May. In December, the first of the new ACJ model, based on the airframer’s A220-100 narrowbody airliner (formerly the Bombardier CSeries) will go to Comlux, which is in charge of fitting the cabin interior.
Comlux has bought the first two examples of the new ACJ for its charter fleet and won the contract to complete the first 15 aircraft, which the companies expect to enter service early in 2023. “The world is discovering the TwoTwenty,” Comlux chairman Richard Gaona told AIN at last month’s NBAA show in Las Vegas, with most interest “coming from Gulfstream, Bombardier, and Dassault [customers].”
Airbus also refers to the ACJ TwoTwenty as the “Xtra Large Bizjet” and introduced it for owners of existing large-cabin private jets who want more space at what it says is a similar price (around $72 million).
The ACJ TwoTwenty offers six VIP living areas for up to 19 passengers and a 5,650-nm range, but at a price that Airbus Corporate Jets executives say will be less than that of an ultra-long-range business jet. After a challenging year in 2020, when ACJ delivered six of its aircraft, the company says new orders have since recovered, including for the ACJ320neo.
The ACJ320neo on display in Dubai this week comes from the fleet of European operator Acropolis Aviation. It is equipped to carry 19 passengers on long-haul flights of up to 12 hours, with several distinct zones including an open-plan forward lounge and a private bedroom with an en-suite shower. The aircraft traces its lineage to Airbus's current production A320neo family of single-aisle airliners.
Last month Airbus announced a partnership agreement with Latécoère Interconnection Systems to develop an ACJ Smart LiFi (light fidelity) Monitor for its business jets. Designed as a plug-and-play system, the 4K monitor will incorporate the latest wireless communication technology to offer Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and LiFi connectivity and provide for analog audio output and USB-C ports, as well as HDMI connections.
The system allows for use of on-demand audio-video, casting, mirroring, web browsing, live TV, and videoconferencing. Airbus Corporate Jets will offer the monitor for retrofit and new cabin outfitting by year-end.