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Business Aviation & The Boardroom - Ultra-Long Range Jet Value

It stands to reason that the best time-savers are those airplanes with range capabilities so high that they allow users to connect dots on the map separated by upwards of 5-500 nautical miles- non-stop.

Dave Higdon   |   1st January 2011
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Dave Higdon Dave Higdon

Dave Higdon writes about aviation from his base in Wichita Kansas. During three decades in...
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Ultra-Long-Range Jet Value
It stands to reason that the best time-savers are those airplanes with range capabilities so high that they allow users to connect dots on the map separated by upwards of 5-500 nautical miles- non-stop.

Business aircraft are essentially time machines- gaining their efficiency from the time they save their users. They pick up time savings through their effective speed of travel- and from the elements of commercial flying they eschew (airline checkpoints- and inflexible schedules/routes).

Let’s not neglect the other major attraction of the business jet: single-plane service. No plane changes en route saves time; no Transportation Security Administration ritual saves time; using the best-choice airport also saves time.

Using the above as a guideline to Business Aviation value- it is clear that the Ultra-Long-Range (upward of 5-500 nautical miles) private aircraft offers enormous benefits. Further- the entire journey can be equipped with the full extent of business tools available in the best ground-bound executive suites.

That includes fast moving email and internet access- cell phone access- Blackberry use - all the business tools to keep in-cabin productivity high en route to a destination- and all within the highly private and secure environment of a business aircraft cabin not available on an airline.

Originally the Ultra-Long-Range Jets amounted to little more than a niche segment- but as their existence today approaches two decades their number continues to grow. One new launch promises to push the segment’s upper limits to nearly 8-000 nautical miles non-stop.

A company considering a travel solution from the Ultra-Long-Range segment usually understands the financial commitment. They cost big money to maintain and operate- and not all who could benefit can justify- or afford one.

Prices to acquire an Ultra-Long-Range aircraft factory- new start in the $40 million region- and may rise steeply to above $65 million into the future - but that- of course- merely buys and outfits the aircraft. Fuel demands may seem like the next big expenditure; but for airplanes of this capability- flight crews of three- four and even five are often required – specifically because of the demands of operating and managing such a machine for 10- 12 or even 14 hour flights.

A three-person flight-deck crew allows for two on duty while a third rests- rotating during the flight. At least one cabin attendant is usually deployed in the back- serving as both an in-flight steward and a safety contact in the unlikely event of a problem.

That person must train and qualify for the position in the same manner as the cockpit crew- given the complexity and number of systems employed for life support- galley- lavatory- safety and environmental needs. Even when operating with no squawks- the aircraft will require maintenance at each stop after one of those full-distance trips.

Ultimately- though- the paybacks make these demands just a part of the cost of doing business for those that need an Ultra-Long-Range business jet.

The above listed ‘expediency’ can be easily understood by any operator who moves from flying two- or three-stop trips into an airplane capable of over-flying all the old interim stops to connect Point A with Point B non-stop.

‘Security’- on the other hand- is different. Business aircraft users may not consider security a routine benefit of using private aircraft – particularly those whose travels are domestic.

When polled- most Business Aviation users considered the “security benefits” of the company airplane primarily to be their freedom from airline checkpoints. But plenty of employers will also go to some length to shield from public view any- and all information about their workers’ travel habits.

Security considerations become far more complex when international destinations enter the mix. The Ultra-Long-Range jet by its nature helps eliminate much of the potential exposure to those by cutting out the interim stops- or over-flying unfriendly skies.

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