- 18 Aug 2021
- René Armas Maes
- Aircraft Ownership
Improving the comfort, health and wellbeing of Business Aviation passengers is vital for owners, operators and OEMs alike. René Armas Maes discusses some core areas for consideration, with a view to developing a scorecard in your purchase analysis…
Passengers’ comfort, well-being, and arrival at the destination rested and refreshed are top priorities for business jet owners and business aircraft manufacturers (OEMs) alike – especially since corporate travelers are more demanding today than ever before.
With the development of Ultra Long-Range business jets that are capable of flying more than 7,900 nautical miles non-stop, and advancements in cabin technology capable of replicating the comforts of the home or office, passengers expect their time spent aboard a private jet to be as restful or productive as it would be on the ground.
For the past several years, the leading OEMs and related products and services providers have been shaping the Business Aviation flight experience.
Not only has it been important to design and develop materially- and technologically-comfortable cabins, but large galleys and lavatories, multiple living spaces and even stand-up showers are increasingly important elements of passenger well-being, depending on the size and range capability of the aircraft.
Humidity, cabin temperature control, cabin altitude and noise cancellation are all key areas of focus by the industry, as are highly sophisticated cabin lighting systems that even adjust to the passengers’ biological rhythms.
Clean air, and optimal cabin air re-circulation are, unsurprisingly, key concerns for today’s passengers in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the leading Business Aviation OEMs have been re-evaluating what options are available to enhance the removal of bacteria from the cabin air.
The majority of the business aircraft use either a 100% fresh-air environment, or recirculated air system. High-Efficiency Particle Assurance (HEPA) filters commonly used on the airlines can be fitted upon request by OEMs or by third party vendors.
Having provided a general overview, when it comes to passenger comfort and well-being, how can a prospective buyer of a new or pre-owned business jet scrutinize the key areas of cabin comfort before making a decision to buy? The following outline should help provide some focus…
1. Cabin Lightning and Aircraft Design
Several of the industry’s leading OEMs have won international design awards. For example, Dassault’s Falcon 6X earned the 2020 international award for interior design. The Falcon 6X features an industry-first overhead skylight in the galley, flooding natural light into the galley area. And therein lies a core value in passenger comfort assessment… Cabin brightness is key.
When considering cabin brightness, the number of windows, and how the light is distributed throughout the cabin is an important factor for passenger wellness. As an example, the Gulfstream G700 cabin features 20 panoramic oval windows, while the Falcon 10X and Bombardier Global 7500 each offer 38 windows.
Many OEMs also offer smart-controlled mood lighting systems aboard their aircraft that varies color patterns in accordance with the type of activity being undertaken, the time of day, or even the season.
Many of today’s business jets come equipped with bright and soft LEDs to set the color of the cabin, while emulating natural light from sunrise to sunset, matching the passengers’ natural circadian rhythm to ensure extra physical and mental comfort.
When assessing a prospective business jet to buy, make sure the cabin lighting – both natural and electrical – are thoroughly assessed and understood in relation to the typical mission you’ll be flying.
2. Pressurization, Humidity and Cabin Temperature
It is widely understood that a low cabin altitude means passengers will feel more relaxed during the flight, arriving at their destination feeling more refreshed. Moreover, to avoid jet lag when crossing multiple time zones, humidity control is key to providing optimal comfort.
Gulfstream’s G700 offers both turbo heat/cool features to control the cabin temperature in each of its cabin zones, helping alleviate jet lag, and minimize post flight fatigue.
And, the new Dassault Falcon 10X offers an extremely impressive 3,000 feet cabin altitude at 41,000 feet, while Bombardier claims its Global 7500 cabin altitude will never exceed 5,680 feet when cruising at its maximum altitude of 51,000 feet.
3. Noise Cancellation and Acoustic Technology
The two main sources of noise aboard aircraft are the aerodynamic turbulent flow, and engine vibrations. The preferred option is for a quiet cabin that is able to dampen noises, irrespective of the phase of flight.
Acoustics play a key role in optimizing passenger comfort, and are increasingly considered a true differentiator between one jet and another by passengers. High noise levels can hamper comfort in different ways, including making conversation within the cabin difficult.
But minimizing the cabin noise level doesn’t come without challenges where a modification is being considered. Installation of soundproofing technology will directly impact the weight of an aircraft, potentially reducing its range and payload capacity.
4. Cabin Air Quality and Filtration
Justifiably, in the light of Covid-19, passengers have expressed concerns about the air quality and recirculation of cabin air aboard business aircraft. A system that is able to eliminate any pollutants and bacteria is important – not only during a time of pandemic, but at any other time for owners and operators who are serious about the health and well-being of passengers.
The leading solutions in the industry include systems able to completely refresh cabin air every two to three minutes, helping ensure virus particles do not endure.
Additionally, air ionization and purification systems that are applicable for all aircraft types are being introduced. Aviation Clean Air (ACA) offers an FAA-certified system that improves air quality, eliminates odors and neutralizes pathogens in the air. And best of all, ACA’s product complements products already installed on aircraft, such as HEPA filtration and cabin air flow solutions offered by the OEMs and third-party vendors.
Build a Scorecard
It is a sound idea for those considering aircraft ownership to build a scorecard system that allows you to review a number of different cabin comfort metrics side-by-side. This will help either identify the aircraft offering the most optimized cabin for passenger wellness, or establish your exact modification and upgrade needs aboard the aircraft you purchase.
Naturally, items like In-Flight Connectivity and Entertainment – which both also play a big role in passenger comfort and well-being – should feature, though they were not the primary focus of this article.
Ultimately, optimizing passenger comfort and well-being is a multi-faceted, but also very specific challenge, depending on an owner/operator’s trip requirements. When buying a private jet, a firm grasp of your mission needs and a comprehensive scorecard will help you get to grips with what exactly will be required of your aircraft’s cabin space.