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Business Aviation & The Boardroom - BusinessLiner Value

For any company with the means and the needs- an airliner as a business jet is the no-compromise solution for highest-function air transport for its longest-distance or heavy staff-access needs.

AvBuyer   |   1st February 2011
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For any company with the means and the needs- an airliner as a business jet is the no-compromise solution for highest-function air transport for its longest-distance or heavy staff-access needs.

The description of the prospective new aircraft sounded more like office real estate than transportation hardware as the broker detailed the aircraft to its potential owner’s Board Members recently. Spread within more than 3-000 square feet of floor space were three bedrooms; a master suite; two office areas; a fully-functioning conference room; three baths; two galleys; guest-passenger seating; and all the accoutrements of a modern executive suite.

The variety of airliner airframes deployed as corporate aircraft knows no limits. Examples of everything from 30-seat commuter turboprops to jumbo jets serve as business aircraft around the globe.

At the top of the scale Airbus Corporate Jets and Boeing Business Jets offer factory-direct purpose-built adaptations of their single-aisle medium-range airliners- including all the variations of Boeing’s bestselling 737s as well as Airbus’ A320 aircraft family.

But the demand extends beyond the single-aisle jets- to the top of the jumbo lines: the two companies logged private aircraft sales of the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8 well before each new design first flew. Examples can be ordered of any jet that either company makes.

Long before the OEMs offered factory-tailored versions of their airliners- however- visionary corporate operators recognized the value and utility of commercial airframes converted into corporate jets as far back as the 1960s. While it’s certainly a factor- the appeal goes beyond floor space available in these aircraft.

Among the top benefits of purpose-built business jet variants of airliners are clean-sheet interior designs with the airplane’s critical systems already installed and certified to the high standards of airline equipment.

That includes fuel systems for ultra-long-range flying- wiring and electrical power systems designed and installed to support office-standard equipment- specially configured accommodations rather than hundreds of passenger seats- and human-comfort options (lavatories- galleys- showers and refreshment centers) that can include fresh- potable water and cooking stations.

Completion centers can build in any conceivable office configuration and business equipment needed – from desks and work stations to computer networks- wireless phone and internet - all with global access.

But for all these flexibilities- the ‘BusinessLiner’ does come with some constraints. Bigger- heavier airplanes designed to fly once unimaginable distances require considerable runway length- thereby restricting airport options. Generally 6-000 feet stands as only nominally long enough for many- with 7-000 feet more attractive for most. The runway must also be rated for the weight and wheel combinations of the BusinessLiner - as must the ramps and taxiways in relation to the load and wing span of the aircraft.

So basing and destination planning starts with limitations that smaller business aircraft don’t face. Crew requirements are- like everything- dictated by Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs); two-pilot crew requirements begin in aircraft far smaller than the BusinessLiner- but where range is a factor- crew requirements increase when using the ultra-long-range capabilities of some of these category of jets.

With capabilities for flying anywhere between 4-500-8-000+ miles- a crew for flight times of 10-18 hours is definitely a factor. Three- and sometimes more qualified pilots might be required- depending on the scheduling. And the same goes for the crew in the main cabin. With pieces of cabin equipment as large- complex and expansive as this type of jet can accommodate- a trained- qualified flight attendant or two should be considered at a minimum.

Clearly there is a need for the BusinessLiner. Catering to the market’s demand for both speed and space- OEMs have sold a combined total of 341 BusinessLiners in the past 15 years. BusinessLiners simply deliver private air transportation on a bigger scale than anything else flying- including commanding a substantial price for purchase- operation- and support.

Yet the capabilities these BusinessLiners deliver are unparalleled in aviation- offering operators all the space- equipment and comfort of an entire executive office – a suite capable of connecting- non-stop- points separated by half a planet at airliner speeds- but without airline hassles or common-carrier inconvenience. That combination will keep the BusinessLiner selling for decades into the future.

For the purpose of our BusinessLiner Value Guide- five companies compete in this field- each with in-production aircraft ranging in cabin volume from the largest Boeing Business Jet (BBJ3) at 7-290 cubic feet to the smallest Dornier Envoy3 at 1-409 cubic feet.

According to JETNET- the installed BusinessLiner fleet today totals 341 aircraft. Boeing leads the field with 140 aircraft (or 41%) and the BBJ at 116 leads all the BusinessLiner aircraft models. The table below shows the prices for each of these BusinessLiner aircraft models factored. Prices as reported by B&CA Magazine (May 2010 issue) range from USD $87.7 million for the BBJ3 in 2010- to USD $49.3 million for the Embraer Lineage 1000.

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