The bottom line in a business jet purchase, however, remains how it does well on ergonomics
Unless one is trav elling business or first class, seats in some airlines can be quite uncomfortable with very little elbow room or leg space. Comfort in the skies is key and without doubt business aviation promises to provide that. On this count, among other advantages, business aviation scores over airlines.
No wonder the corporate world has realised the plus points of business aviation and are propping up the sectors growth. Corporate houses, entrepreneurs, celebrities and high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) have understood the value of business aircraft, delivering many times over their investment. Teal forecasts deliveries of 10,249 traditional business jets worth about $250 billion ( Rs. 13,75,000 crore) between 2012-21. Teal’s forecast in such a corporate-driven environment hardly comes as a surprise.
The greatest factors driving growth of business aviation have been that corporate are able to ‘manage effectively’, get their executives to accomplish more, etc. A study by the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) revealed that small and mid-size companies that use private jets produce a 219 per cent higher earnings growth rate than those that strictly fly commercial.
Having said that, the question that many corporate houses and also high-net-worth individuals ask themselves, before making a purchase of such costly machines, is ‘what seat configuration’ to go for? As per the individuals and the corporates’ requirements, there are five segments to choose from—very light jets (example Cessna Citation Mustang: 4-5 passengers); light jets (Hawker 400: 7-9 passengers); midsize jets (Embraer Legacy 500 up to 12 passengers); super mid-size jets (Gulfstream IV: 14-19 passengers); and large and heavy jets (Boeing Business Jets: 8 to 50 passengers).
More seats, more space, more luxury
The heavy and large cabin jets are Boeing Business Jets, Airbus Corporate Jets, Embraer’s Lineage 1000 and Dassault Falcon 7X, which can seat from eight to 50 passengers ultra comfortably.
BBJ’s 807 sft of cabin space
Take the Boeing Business Jet (737 family) which has an extra large cabin measuring 807 square feet, well beyond any other private jet. The cabin can be configured almost any way desired by the customer, but most configurations divide the cabin into four compartments comprising a board room, a lounge, a VIP bedroom, a business office, and two lavatories with showers. Alternate suggested configurations include an office and an exercise room, high-density seating for 60 passengers or 24 extra-large seats for sleeping.
ACJ pegs on freedom of movement
The Airbus ACJ319, the newest in the Comlux fleet, is certified to carry 19 passengers, and features lounge areas, club seating and two private rooms that convert to bedrooms, one of which has an en suite bathroom. Over 15 Airbus corporate jets are offered for VVIP charter worldwide by almost 15 companies highlighting their popular appeal. The ACJ family can be outfitted as per the customers configuration needs.
Dassault’s Falcon 7X is classified as a large cabin business jet as the cabin is high, wide and has a handsomely-proportioned executive suite, featuring three spacious areas. It offers a selection of different floor plans, organised in three lounges from 12 to 16 seats. The seats are ergonomically adjustable, while the cabin has a full-length wardrobe, standup lavatory, full-size galley and 28 large windows to give the passenger comfort, relaxation and spectacular views.
Super mid-size that’s super
Super mid-size jets are the quick way to get there in luxury. Capable of high altitude, speed and the ultimate in range, these aircraft also offer wide body comfort. The examples of this segment include Dassault Falcon 900DX, the Cessna Citation X, Embraer’s Legacy 600 and the Hawker 4000.
Seats with full berthing capability
Representing this category is Embraer’s Legacy 600 which has three spacious cabin zones, offering outstanding cabin comfort and productivity. The seats can be fully reclined, so also the divan can be converted into a berth, thanks to its superior cabin volume.
The highpoint of Legacy 600 is that it throws up multiple interior configurations. With a versatile layout, the business jet can accommodate up to 14 passengers in three distinct cabin zones, besides having a conference table area. The third private zone is configurable with two divans.
The Gulfstream G650 offers the longest, widest, tallest, most comfortable cabin in its class, a living environment designed to provide maximum comfort, safety and productivity on those 7,000 nm (12,964 km) trips to distant world capitals.
Gulfstream G650 has increased length of the fuselage by 24 inches (61 cm), the width by 14 inches (36 cm) and the height by three inches (8 cm) over the Gulfstream G550. For enhanced productivity, Gulfstream increased the length of the living area in the cabin to improve the seat incline and provide more legroom. The additional cabin width offers wider seats, more aisle space and a conference grouping with three-across seating for meetings or meals accommodating up to six people. It gives a larger stateroom option that includes a single seat, a divan that berths into a double bed, a large, 26-inch (66 cm) pop-up LCD monitor and two windows on each side, resulting in an airy, well-lit, productive or restful cabin environment.
Adding space: Global 7000 and 8000
Almost in response to the G650, Bombardier has an offering with more range and fuel efficiency. The Global 7000 is stretched by eleven feet three inches, and the 8000 is stretched by two feet three inches. Considering the range, it is assumed that it can take 10 passengers and four crew on the 7000, and eight passengers and four crew on the 8000.
Mid-size, more than a go-between
These aircraft are suitable for longer range travel such as transcontinental flights and for travel with larger passenger capacity requirements. The aircraft include Learjet 60XR, Learjet 85 (Bombardier); Citation Columbus, Citation XLS, Citation Sovereign (Cessna); Falcon50 (Dassault); Legacy 450 and 500 (Embraer); Gulfstream 150 and Gulfstream 250; Hawker 750; 850XP and 900XP.
Representative of this segment, Learjet 85, has a cabin that is larger than the 60XR’s almost by one-third. Bombardier claims the 85 will have 19 per cent more cabin volume than its closest competitor. The cabin is 24 feet, nine inches long; six feet, one inch wide; and six feet tall, yielding 665 cu ft of passenger space and 130 cu ft of luggage stowage, including three large cabin closets with a combined 30 cu ft of storage.
Bombardier offers several different configurations, including eight single executive seats in a double-club layout or six single seats and a three-place divan. The single seats are pitched at 30 inches and recline into full-berthing positions. The divan and the berthing seats reflect the 85’s 3,000-nm transcontinental/transatlantic design range (four passengers). This longer-legged Learjet also features a full galley and an aft cabin lavatory. Like several other contemporary cabin designs, the 85 will feature larger passenger cabin windows, 12 by 16 inches each, and more monolithic, streamlined headliners and sidewalls.
Legacy, designed for comfort
In the mid-size segment, the options are plenty. Embraer Legacy 450 and 500 fit the bill. The 500’s fuselage is around four and half feet longer than the 450, while both will have a six-foot stand-up cabin with a flat floor, a fully equipped galley and an externally serviced aft lavatory. The 500 is being designed to have a range of 2,800 nm as against the 450 with a range of 2,300 nm at long-range cruise.
The 500 can be configured to carry up to 12 passengers in a cabin that is near super mid-size, and there is a generous amount of baggage space: 150 cu ft (110 external). The cabin measures 26 feet, 10 inches long and 6 feet, 10 inches wide. Embraer announced that several different cabin layouts will be available. There is the option between a large forward galley opposite galley annex storage or a single, side-facing seat ideal for a cabin attendant. Or else there is a side-facing, two-place divan opposite a small refreshment centre. Behind that is the two-zone main cabin with seating for eight or nine more passengers.
Possible configurations include two club-four groupings of single seats or a forward club-four followed by a half-club with a three-place, berthing divan on either the right or left side.