TOP 5 MUST-HAVES FOR THOSE SEEKING ELEGANCE IN AEROSPACE
BY JAKE TAYLOR
You’ve got places to be and people to see – and conventional air wares just won’t cut the mustard. For the epitome of elegant aerospace travel, the private jet is the only vehicle that guarantees speed, style and sophistication without the risk of getting stuck in traffic on the way to that unmissable business opportunity.
But in a world of ever-advancing aviation, the question is where to start with the latest airborne releases?
How about the HA-420 HondaJet, Japanese transport titan Honda’s first punt at developing a light-weight business jet? With a wingspan of 39.8 feet and totalling 42.6 feet in length, this relatively pintsize plane certainly isn’t an Airbus, but if you’re looking to get from place to place with limited fuss and hassle, and only need a maximum capacity of six people, then the HondaJet may well be the one.
Whilst the HondaJet falls short in terms of maximum speed (486 mph) and range (1388 miles) when compared to the bigger beasts of the business jet industry, it’ll put a slightly smaller dent in your wallet than your typical midsize vehicle, coming in at an almost bargain price of $5.9 million.
As would be expected from a company as dedicated to technological advancements as Honda, the entire shape of the HondaJet resembles a love-letter to inspired aerodynamics. One such marvel of engineering is the over-the-wing engine mount – the eventual product of more than two decades of extensive research and development. This engine adaptation not only differs from almost every conventional market rival to the HondaJet, thereby giving you an aesthetic edge on the tarmac, but also provides practical advances, such as a more spacious cabin, greater noise reduction and increased fuel efficiency.
Further to this, Honda have adapted the design of both the main wing air-foil and fuselage nose shape to reduce drag and further maximize fuel efficiency and cruising speed, which stands at 423 mph.
The real beauty of the HondaJet, however, hides within the cockpit. Built with both safety and situational awareness in mind at all times, the Garmin G3000 all-glass avionics system houses dual touch-screen controllers and three 14-inch high-resolution landscape displays that offer enhanced navigation, flight planning and overall control. With the opportunity to enable either single- or dual-pilot operation, the HondaJet cockpit removes intrusions and supplements natural skill with technological intuition of its own.
If the pocket-size capabilities of the HondaJet don’t light your fire, then the Dassualt Falcon 8x – scheduled for commercial release in the second half of 2016 – could well fulfil your vehicular needs. At 42.6 feet long, and with a wingspan of 39.8 feet, the Falcon 8x represents a shift up in size from the humble HondaJet – and with a price-tag of $75.9 million, the Falcon 8x signifies a sizable mark-up in price, as well.
Those extra millions however will, of course, allow more of you to fly further. The Falcon 8x can carry up to 19 people for nearly 75,000 miles, making it one of a group of ultra-long-range business jets brought onto the market in appreciation of the truly global nature of commercial business.
The Falcon 8x’s biggest assets lay in its durability. First and foremost, its ability to adapt to steep approach angles and climb-out gradients make it the only ultra-long-range jet able to use London City’s runway, powering of a short runway with enough gusto to continue non-stop to far-flung places such as Dubai or New York. Even high altitudes pose no problem for the Falcon 8x; it can even depart from as high as 6,500 feet above sea level in Colorado and still make it unperturbed to Geneva, Switzerland.
Inside the Falcon 8x, there’s absolutely no question that you’re in complete control. Its state-of-the-art Falcon Cabin HD+ system allows you to use any personal Apple device in order to, among other things, track flight progress and call up a virtual moving map of any landscape around you simply by pointing your iPad in its direction.
The interior can also be personally customised, with over 30 different layouts available to the aspiring airplane owner. With the help of the Dassault design team, you can oversee exactly how you want your cabin to be constructed, and with the Falcon 8x keeping you at a comfortable altitude of around 4,000 feet, as opposed to the traditional 6,000 to 8,000 feet that most commercial airliner and business jets cruise at, you’ll feel better on board and even banish jet-lag, ensuring you’ll arrive at your destination in unique style and comfort.
But if internal comfort is wholly important, then there are very few jets in the business more suited to optimum comfort than the Bombardier Global 7000. With no less than four living spaces on top of a dedicated crew rest area, each available to customise in a seemingly endless variety of shades and textures, the Global 7000 takes full advantage of its hefty 111-foot length to transport up to 17 passengers in almost unrivalled luxury.
Further to this, the Global 7000’s massive size allows for a far greater fuel capacity than fellow ultra-long-range jet the Falcon 8x, with Bombardier’s flagship able to carry 21,500kg of fuel. This in turn boosts the jet’s maximum range to over 8500 miles, making the Global 7000 the longest ranged business jet around, able to connect New York to Dubai, or Beijing to Washington, without complaint.
Whilst the Global 7000 has experienced a series of teething problems that have cast doubt over the possibility of the jet entering the market this year, the recent completion of Bombardier’s CS100 and CS300 have allowed the company to transfer the attentions of the majority of its workforce back to the Global 7000. The bulk of Bombardier’s $325 million program tooling and research budget has also been dedicated to getting the Global 7000 into circulation as quickly as possible.
Of course that 54 feet 7 inches of plush cabin space is the Global 7000’s biggest draw, but, at around $96 million, the Bombardier business jet also provides top-of-the-range cockpit contraptions – including four liquid crystal display screens and the Bombardier Vision flight deck that reduces pilot fatigue and increases speed control and situational awareness, allowing you to get on with your job in the cabin’s spacious interior, whilst the pilot can get on with his.
Even the Global 7000’s quadruple living quarters in all of their seemingly infinite furnishing combinations can’t quite compare to Embraer’s masterpiece collaboration with former Disney Imagineer Eddie Sutto. Taking the vast Embraer Lineage 1000E as its base, the Skyacht One is a business jet with a difference; namely, that the interior resembles the nautical elegance of classic wooden motor-yachts that cruised the French Riviera in the midst of the 1900s.
Sotto, who is a former vice president of concept design at Disney and was once named by TED founder Richard Saul Wurman as one of America’s top 1000 most creative people, has leant his considerable imagination to the completion of the Skyacht, which features a hand-painted mahogany ‘hull’ and an interior that owes much to the sailing vessels of the Old World, with navigational charts adorning the jet’s insides and nautical portholes lined with brass, nickel and mahogany replacing the traditional, uninspiring plane windows.
“The romance of those classic yachts with their planks and joinery – the way they’re built, with all the engineering exposed – is timeless,” Sutto told the BBC in February this year. “The craftsmanship is literally right before your eyes. Every line is an elegant sculptural element. Every plank of wood serves an aerodynamic purpose – they’re put together like a watch in a very precise way.”
Seating 19 people in maritime magnificence, the Lineage 1000E’s 118-foot length and 34-foot height means that the Skyacht’s capacity for personalisation is almost unlimited. The original model has come onto the market at around $110 million, but Sutto has said that this price is just a jumping-off point for those who wish to “make changes in a bespoke way.”
Of course, the Skyacht’s antiquated aesthetics may not be for those who revel in the monochrome elegance of modern travel, but the unique nature of this jet is certain to turn heads everywhere you go. As captain of this immense craft, the most sumptuous space is reserved solely for you, with personal quarters that are coated from the plush, carpeted floor to the panelled ceiling in padded suede and gold inlay. The on-plane bath features a dazzling faucet inspired by the throttles of superyachts, with green Malachite countertops and shower juxtaposing the mahogany and teak woodgrain and lending further elegance to the incredible Skyacht.
There are few jets that can rival the Skyacht for sheer audacity, but Aerion’s planned $158 million supersonic tri-jet the AS2 may well be one – providing you’re prepared to put aside the aero-nautical elegance in favour of sheer, unadulterated speed. Though still some years away, the Aerion AS2 has benefitted from some technological input from Airbus, and the two companies are hoping to announce the formal launch of the Mach-1.4 capable business jet by the end of 2016.
With the purported ability to travel roughly 6000 miles at supersonic speed, the AS2 is being touted as the jet that will revolutionise intercontinental travel, with Aerion claiming that it will have the ability to shave three hours off a typical trans-Atlantic flight, and over six hours off a trans-Pacific route.
And if the combined efforts of aviation giants Aerion and Airbus weren’t enough to pique your interest in this supersonic spectacle, the internal engineering under the hood of the AS2 makes use of Supersonic Natural Laminar Flow – a technology developed first by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and then further tested by none other than NASA. Aerion hope that the inclusion of SNLF will make the AS2 more environmentally responsible than traditional supersonic jet designs and give it added flexibility in terms of its operational utility, although the jet’s sleek 170-foot body may make it unsuited to some runways.
Aerion also hopes that the AS2 will go further than any market rival before it by reducing airflow enough to sidestep the tough regulations imposed on supersonic travel over land, which prohibit aircraft from creating sonic booms over most nations. The SNLF is reported to reduce surface drag by up to 90%, allowing the AS2 to break the sound barrier with ease whilst still using traditional jet engines.
The challenges facing the AS2 are undeniably vast, but despite the physical and financial difficulties facing Aerion and Airbus in their attempts to change the face of intercontinental business travel forever, there’s still hope. FlexJet, who offer fractional ownership of upmarket aircraft, have recently ordered 20 AS2’s at a cost of around $3 billion, and Rolls Royce are apparently interested in helping Aerion out with their engine issues, proving that the expectations behind AS2’s astronomically ambitious targets are not unfounded.
“We will proceed with an engine that allows us to meet our performance goals with the minimum changes required,” Aerion CEO Doug Nichols told AIN earlier this year. “Aerion is focused on an engine that meets Stage 4 noise standards while preserving long-range supersonic performance. This is a significant challenge with a low-bypass supersonic engine, but solutions are in sight with today’s engine technology. The engine is the key to the AS2.”
If realised, the AS2 may well succeed where Concorde and many others have failed, and change the entire landscape of private air travel to boot – after all, there’s little more impressive than arriving for a meeting several hours before you even left the tarmac.