by Kerry Lynch
The corporate version of Airbus’s “new engine option” Neo series has notched another sale in the Gulf.
Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ) has secured another commitment for its new, more fuel efficient ACJneo (new engine option) family, bringing the total orders and commitments for the next generation line to eight. Introduced during the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) in May 2015—and following the introduction of new engines on their airliner equivalents—the neo family has become one of the ACJ family’s strongest sellers, remaining on a pace of one sale every two months. This is a rate that ACJ president Benoit Defforge said he hopes to continue in 2017.
The newest commitment is for an ACJ320neo, boosting the order and commitment tally for that model to six. The ACJ319 version accounts for the remaining two.
Chadi Saade, Airbus vice-president commercial, credited the increased range of the neo family for attracting a wider base of customers, including those who would traditionally look at large, ultra-long-range business jets such as the Gulfstream G650 or Bombardier Global family.
The next generation ACJ319/320 neos are powered by either the CFM International’s LEAP-1A or Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower PW1100G-JM and are equipped with sharklet wingtips. The efficiency improvements provide a 6,000-nautical-mile (11,112-kilometer) range for the ACJ320neo or a 6,750-nm (12,501-km) range for the ACJ319neo.
Deliveries of green ACJ320neos are expected to begin at the end of 2018, while the ACJ319 neo will begin shipment in second quarter of 2019. Airbus is not disclosing its customer base for most of the neo family, but Alpha Star, based in Riyadh, is the launch customer of the ACJ319neo.
ACJ (Chalet A15) is continuing to grow its fleet in the Middle East and North African region with more than 60 in service with companies, individuals and governments. That represents about one-third of the total 180 ACJs in service.
At MEBAA, ACJ is touting its recently unveiled cabin concept, called Melody, for the ACJ320neo family. The concept, first unveiled last month at the NBAA convention in Orlando, Florida, was “inspired by curves of nature” with white and light tones and elements that are devoid of edges.
ACJ is exhibiting an ACJ318 here in Dubai. The aircraft, operated by Nasjet, features multiple bathrooms; several lounge areas; an office that converts to a bedroom; and ample stowage space.
While highlighting the single-aisle models, Defforge also unveiled a new corporate-jet version of its A350 XWB airliner that is designed with “Easyfit” provisions to smooth the cabin outfitting process. The XWB (Xtra Widebody) has 2,910 square feet of cabin space in the -900 version, and can fly up to 10,800 nm (20,000 km), or 22 hours. With Easyfit, the carbon-fiber fuselage is pre-fitted with hundreds of attachment points, which will simplify the completions process.
Airbus Corporate Jets is closing in on an order for a ACJ350 and believes a second might be on its heels, Defforge said.
While focusing on ease of completions for its widebody, ACJ is planning to exit the outfitting business. Airbus is refocusing its Airbus Corporate Jet Center (ACJC) in Toulouse from ACJ completions to upgrades for its commercial airliners. The company decided it was a better use of internal capabilities to focus on commercial upgrades rather than compete against its six approved outfitters, he said. The company, which has sold 70 “turnkey” solutions with ACJ involvement through the completions process. But Defforge noted than less than 10 of those were completed through ACJC.
The transition is expected to occur in 2017.