The Airbus new ACJ319 Elegance concept is set to make European debut.
is unveiling its new modular-concept Elegance interior for the ACJ319 to the European market here as it strives to simplify the choices and reduce lead times. First announced during the Asian Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition in Shanghai last month, the ACJ319 Elegance will provide set configurations that ultimately will shorten completions time by six to eight months and reduce costs.
The concept was developed in part by Benoit Defforge while he led the Airbus Corporate Jet Center. Defforge, who was later appointed managing director of ACJ sales, found some customers wanting fewer choices and a simpler approach. These customers also want to be able to fly in their aircraft sooner. While some customers still prefer the detailed customization, “they don’t all want flying palaces,” Defforge says.
A recent study of billionaires found that most had created their own wealth, rather than inherited it, says ACJ spokesman David Velupillai, adding that many of these customers are buying aircraft for the first time and are not as interested in the high level of customization and myriad choices that can accompany the purchase of a large VIP aircraft.
The Elegance is designed with a standard bathroom and galley at the front and a bedroom with en suite bathroom at the rear. The cabin can be customized from a range of lounge, office, dining and conference modules defined by Airbus.
Airbus detailed some of the new features of the Elegance, including light-diffusing windows, shaped to bring more light into the cabin, transversal lighting that minimizes shadowing from traditional light tracks and minimal side-ledges. Airbus was able to minimize space taken up by the side ledges by reducing the wiring in the cabin necessary for individual electronics. The advent of remote control of entertainment and environmental systems through portable electronic devices such as iPads and iPods enables Airbus to reduce its cabin wiring.
Airbus plans to price the Elegance at under $80 million, where a typically customized ACJ could run $87 million or more. Completion times for a typical customized ACJ could be about 24 months. But with the modular approach, Airbus is hoping to shorten that time to 16 months, although the initial couple may take between 18 and 20 months, Defforge estimates.
The modular concept has been drawing an increasing level of interest with major completions centers looking to bring more standardization – a move that helps assure completion time and lower their overall costs.
The more standardized approach comes as Airbus steps up its focus on its Airbus Corporate Jet sales. Shortly before the Airbus transitioned Defforge to the sales side, Airbus COO of customers John Leahy had vowed to revitalize the unit to focus more on selling airplanes. Leahy had noted in a presentation earlier this year that Airbus had captured for sales, but at the same time incurred three cancelations – believed to be a fleet order.
Airbus has made one sale so far this year, and delivered one ACJ319 in the first quarter. Velupillai notes the market has been “challenging for a few years for everybody. It’s still a challenging environment.” He notes there is still uncertainty among buyers.
At the same time, he notes that the feedback from ABACE is that there were more visits from potential customers, and those visits were of “good quality.”