Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ) is wrapping up a strong year, delivering four aircraft and bringing in orders and commitments for 13 aircraft year-to-date for its suite of VIP aircraft, including six for its newly introduced ACJ TwoTwenty.
Speaking at a virtual press conference on Wednesday during NBAA-VBACE, ACJ president Benoit Defforge said the company has been able to confirm its order book and keep its deliveries on track despite the pandemic. This “made us confident to launch the ACJ TwoTwenty,” Defforge said.
Unveiled in October with completions partner/launch customer Comlux Group, the ACJ TwoTwenty is a VIP version of the A220-100 narrowbody airliner. It is intended to create a new “extra large” aircraft category in business aviation, providing size and range at a more affordable cost than what has been traditionally offered, said Airbus Corporate Jets commercial v-p Stan Shparberg.
The TwoTwenty will offer a 5,650-nm range and 800-sq-ft cabin with price anticipated to be just under that of the largest ultra-long-range business jets—the Bombardier Global 7500 retails for $72.8 million—and operating costs that Shparberg said are 30 percent less than some smaller business jets.
Comlux’s facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, is under contract to complete the first 15 TwoTwentys, with the first to enter service in 2023.
Airbus Corporate Jets believes the newest member will expand its reach beyond the traditional bizliner base as the OEM vies to broaden the potential market from about 400 VVIP airliners to 2,200 in traditional large-cabin business jets. “We are really opening a new market segment,” Defforge added.
As for results this year, Defforge said “13 is not nothing…It's consistent with the fact that corporate aviation is very important for Airbus.”
Deliveries this year included the first A350 to the German Air Force with a second handover now anticipated in the coming weeks, he said. That aircraft already has performed the longest endurance flights for the model, flying 19 hours and 20 minutes on November 20.
In addition to the TwoTwenty, the OEM has captured orders for three VIP A330s and four ACJ320neos so far this year. Defforge called the ACJ320neo the “heart” of the lineup, with 17 sold thus far and eight delivered.
Defforge and Shparberg both expressed optimism going into next year. While conceding that the environment remains uncertain, Defforge noted that business aviation has proven resilient during the pandemic, with new (first-time) customers opting for private flying. He is hopeful that once the pandemic ends, those customers will remain in the fold.
Shparberg added he was “cautiously ambitious” that the broadening portfolio will help reach new market niches. While North America has traditionally been a tougher sell for bizliners, he said the TwoTwenty provides new options. He also mentioned that it has been well received since the model’s introduction to the business jet market.