Writer: Ziad Taha Images: Courtesy of Airbus
When it comes to choosing an ultra-long range private jet, there may be many choices but if space, long distance and availability of parts are your top criteria, there’s really only one way to go. Meet the Airbus Corporate Jet (ACJ).
Let’s begin by getting the inevitable comparisons out of the way. The well-known Gulfstream G650 may be 19 per cent faster and go 75 per cent further than the ACJ318 but it also costs a whopping 20 million USD more than the 45 million USD Airbus. Consider that the ACJ318 - which has the widest and tallest cabin of any private jet - can take you nonstop from Riyadh to Singapore, we doubt you’ll be left wishing you’d forked out more.
In case you are - who knows, maybe you fly to New York a lot and wish you could do so without stopping - the 318’s bigger sister, the 55 million USD ACJ319 is guaranteed to serve your needs.
“Corporate jets are a largely unseen enabler of company success and growth, as well as supporting the business of government and Airbus’ modern aircraft family is a key contributor in both fields,” points out Airbus Chief Operating Officer for Customers, John Leahy. “Like our airliner business, the market for our corporate jets is worldwide and growing as more and more customers recognise the greater capability, benefits and value that we offer.”
In fact, when you look at the value proposition of the ACJ318, you’ll see that despite its much larger cabin, it is similar in length and wingspan to traditional business jets. Plus it can land and take off in similar distances. Consequently, since its arrival in 2007, the incredibly roomy jet has become the reference against which all other jets are measured in terms of comfort, space and freedom of movement. Though highly customisable, the most standard configuration allows for 11 full berths, 4 pull-out-sleepers and 7 pairs of individual facing seats.
Equipped with avionics manufactured by Northrop Grumman, the Thales Group and Rockwell Collins, the cockpit is centred around six 7.25-inch LCD displays. A particular advantage of the aircraft is its fly-by-wire and steer-by-wire capabilities though naturally, pilots have the option of manual control in the rare case of a total electrical failure.
Although the A318’s mechanics and design are impressive, the cabin has always been its trump card. Measuring almost 22 metres in length, 3.7 metres in width and with a height of 2.24 metres, it’s so spacious, it’s easy to forget you’re in an aircraft at all.
The latest iteration, launched at the end of last year and known as the ACJ318 Enhanced capitalises on the jet’s already formidable success and introduces new elements as standard – think more elegant cabin decor, LED mood lighting, new seats and high-definition in-flight entertainment – as well as formalising options such as fuel-saving wing sharklets, wireless on-board internet, a shower and either a cinema lounge or master stateroom at the rear.
“We’ve always had a culture of innovation at Airbus,” Leahy continues, “and the Enhanced’s cabin and efficiency improvements will help us deliver even more value to customers, as well as give the aircraft a fresher feel on the inside and a more lively look on the outside.”
MODEL Airbus ACJ318
ENGINES 2 x CFM International CFM56-5B9
RANGE 4,000 nm
CRUISING SPEED 0.78 Mach
SERVICE CEILING 11,887m (39,000 feet)
PRICE 45 million USD