Airbus’ first copies of its next-generation Airbus Corporate Jet (ACJ) will enter the market later this year. The ACJneo is a derivative of commercial jet models that have been coming to market since January 2016, reflecting the airlines’ devotion to finding new frontiers of efficiency.
Per-passenger-seat-mile cost is the premier measurement for this doctrine and the aircraft with the lowest number wins. Besides delighting passengers with daily recreations of the Walmart Black Friday experience at 37,000 feet, airlines are constantly in search of ways to burn less fuel.
In 2010, when Airbus announced the “new engine option” (“neo”) program for its narrow-body jets (the A321, A320, and the A319), concurrent with the promise of 15 to 20 percent fuel-efficiency improvement, lower emissions, and less noise, the airlines and their leasing companies ordered more than 5,200 of these airplanes through October 2017.
To compare, since 1988 Airbus has delivered around 7,500 legacy narrow-body aircraft, and since 1974 it has sold around 2,070 wide bodies. “Neo” became the future of the company. Airbus and Boeing attract much attention with prestige programs like the former’s A380 jumbo jet and the latter’s 787 “Dreamliner,” but it is the sale of the lowly, ubiquitous narrow-bodies that largely pays the bills.
Airbus opted to offer customers two engine choices. The first is the Leap-1A from CFM International that builds on the CFM56’s technology making important improvements. They include a redesigned combustor, more advanced materials such as ceramics and carbon fibre, a bigger intake fan, a more complex turbine setup, and the ability to operate at higher temperatures and higher compression ratios that increase the engine’s thermal efficiency, ensuring that there is more thrust with less fuel.
Earlier this year, Airbus had orders for six ACJ320neos and three of the shorter ACJ319neos. While Airbus does not reveal exact prices, a company spokesman said the tab will be around $95 million for the ACJ320neo and $85 million for the ACJ319neo - with an average interior.
Both models offer fly-by-wire controls, advanced avionics, and significant range improvements over their legacy predecessors. The ACJ320neo can transport 25 passengers more than 6,000 nautical miles, a big jump from the 4,300-nautical-mile, eight-passenger range of the ACJ320. It can fly nonstop from London to Johannesburg or Los Angeles to Tokyo and typically accommodates 19 to 25 passengers. An improved environmental-control system lowers the cabin altitude to 6,400 feet at cruise flight on both aircraft.
Better efficiency means both airplanes can carry less fuel and that leaves a lot more room for baggage: 650 cubic feet on the ACJ320neo and 222 cubic feet on the ACJ319neo. Whichever neo narrow body you choose, you can be assured of lower fuel burns, the latest technology, plenty of room to stretch out, and an overall level of comfort that only airplanes this size can provide.