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Airbus targets corporate jets neo boost in the region

Posted 24 February 2020 · Add Comment

Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ) is looking for an upsurge in sales, especially the Middle East, as its new engine option (neo) aircraft – particularly the ACJ320neo family – start to enter into service. Dave Calderwood reports.

New aircraft, such as the ACJ319neo and ACJ320neo, feature the new engines and wingtip-mounted sharklets, enabling even longer intercontinental flights, as well as a 15% saving in fuel and reduced operating costs.
The improvements mean that the ACJ319neo can fly eight passengers 6,750nm/12,500km or more than 15 hours, while the ACJ320neo can transport 25 passengers 6,000nm/11,100km or more than 13 hours.
The ACJ320 family also delivers features promised by the latest business jets, such as enhanced fly-by-wire controls with envelope protection, cost-saving centralised maintenance, and weight-saving carbon fibre composite materials.
“Our continued investment in creating the best in-flight experience means that we are now delivering a great cabin that has the even better range and economy of the ACJ319neo and ACJ320neo,” said ACJ president, Benoit Defforge.
The Middle East is a vital market for ACJ – it’s where Airbus sold its first corporate jet in the mid-1980s.
There are around 60 ACJs currently flying in the Middle East, mostly ACJ320 family aircraft – around 40 – and 20 VIP wide-bodies. Many of these aircraft, particularly in Saudi Arabia, are coming up for renewal and, thus, open up opportunities for the latest ACJs, not only the A320neo but also the ACJ330neo and ACJ350 XWB wide-bodies.
The first ACJ320neo was delivered in ‘green’ out-of-the-factory condition to the UK’s Acropolis Aviation in January 2019, and went straight into cabin outfitting with experienced completion centre, AMAC Aerospace, at Basel, Switzerland. It will receive a VIP cabin designed by Alberto Pinto in Acropolis Aviation colours.
The first flying ACJ319neo – likely to be ACJ’s best-selling type – successfully completed its first flight in April and then, two days later, completed a 16hr and 10min test-flight, a new record for the longest A320 family flight by an Airbus crew.
The aircraft flew from Toulouse to northern Greenland and back, in an endurance flight that included a simulated diversion under 180-minute extended range twin operations (ETOPS) rules, for which the A320 airliner family is already certificated.
This aircraft is due to be delivered to K5 Aviation of Germany this year, after ACJ319neo flight-trials are completed.
K5 Aviation’s ACJ319neo is fitted with five additional centre tanks in its cargo hold, and includes improvements, such as a lower cabin-altitude for greater passenger comfort. It will be outfitted with a VVIP cabin by Fokker Technik in the Netherlands.
ACJ is well aware of the issues of outfitting an aircraft with a composite fuselage, so prepared for the introduction of the twin-engine long-range ACJ350 with the introduction of an ‘EasyFit’ package. The carbon fibre fuselage of the ACJ350 comes pre-equipped with hundreds of attachment points, simplifying the work of cabin outfitters at completion centres.
The company has also worked extensively with several cabin outfitters to ensure smooth completions for customers.
The package was developed with the assistance of ACJ’s advisory board, which is headed by Konstantin Essler, chief operating officer of MJet, a busy ACJ operator.
The ACJ350 XWB is enormous with 270sqm/910sqft of cabin space in the -900 version. It can fly 25 passengers up to 10,800nm/20,000km or for 22 hours, making it one of the most capable corporate jets.
The first government customer is Germany, which has ordered three for a mix of government, troop transport and medical evacuation roles. Delivery of the first aircraft is planned for 2020, and the other two in 2022.
ACJ is also in discussion with potential Middle East customers. “We have several discussions ongoing, both on the private side and the government side for the Middle East,” said Defforge earlier this year.
“It’s new technology compared to the [Boeing] 777, which is an old-fashioned aircraft, so the A350 is the most modern twin-aisle aircraft in the market and will be a big success.”
 

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