Early in 2019, Airbus made waves in the commercial airframe business with the launch of the A220, a midrange, narrowbody jet smaller than a typical Boeing 737 or Airbus A319 but large enough to cover the full range of domestic routes in the United States. Now, the A220 airframe has been adapted by the corporate arm of Airbus for the launch of a new private offering: the ACJ TwoTwenty business jet.
Revealed on Tuesday, the ACJ TwoTwenty is built for the higher end of the corporate jet market. Based off of an A220-100 airframe, the ACJ TwoTwenty has 5,650 nautical miles of range, enough to keep the aircraft in the sky for twelve hours or cross the gap between Los Angeles and London. By contrast, one of the most popular private jets of all time, the 8-seater Cessna Citation XLS, has a range of just under 1,900 nautical miles.
Still, the ACJ TwoTwenty isn’t in a class all by itself. A Gulfstream G500 has a range of 5,000 nautical miles while higher end 650s can fly up to 7,000.
Where the ACJ TwoTwenty does seem to make its mark, however, is in its efficiency. Like many modern commerial aircraft that rely heaviliy on advanced materials to shave weight and increase efficincy, the ACJ TwoTwenty boasts 25 percent lower fuel burn than previous generation aircraft along with a reduced noise output of 50 percent.
On top of those statistics, perhaps the most alluring aspect of the ACJ TwoTwenty is its size. Unlike many narrowbody corporate jets, the A220 airframe boasts enough headroom for most business travelers to stand up straight without crouching throughout the cabin. As initially configured, the corporate jet will have enough capacity for 18 passengers across six so-called living areas — far below the 150 that might typically fly the commerical version of the aircraft but also on par with the higher end Gulfstreams, which seat 19.
Airbus partnered with Comlux, a Swiss-based aviation company, to develop the interiors of the first fifteen aircraft, though other private buyers may request bespoke interiors in the future.
Lest one doubt the demand for private jets in a flagging worldwide economy, Airbus has also been quick to point out that it already has six orders of the ACJ TwoTwenty. And according to survey data relased today by Honeywell, which makes aircraft engines and a wide range of aerospace components, 80% of operators say purchase plans for corporate jets have not been affected by COVID-19. Nothing guarantees social distancing, after all, like flying private.