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Making the most of an extended business trip

Building a successful business is extremely hard work and can involve weeks of consecutive travel time. This kind of lifestyle takes its toll on family life; so several entrepreneurs choose to create a home from home. For this reason many high net worth individuals prefer to fly converted airliners- predominantly Airbus Corporate Jet (ACJ) and Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) types.

“People are increasingly looking to take their whole families with them when they travel- so will need somewhere for the children or grandchildren to play- and somewhere where they can work-” observed David Velupillai- Airbus’ Product Marketing Director- Executive & Private Aviation. “They also prefer to be away from their entourage and have separate staff quarters.”

Airliners lend themselves to such conversions- and the world’s best designers have created sumptuous layouts for the latest airframes. Companies like AMAC- Comlux and Jet Aviation in Switzerland are constantly devising new ideas.

The Boeing 787-9- for example- is an ultra-long-range aircraft which offers great scope. British designer Andrew Winch has created concepts for these aircraft. “Long flights change the psychology of flying-” he outlined- adding of his own design: “There is therefore a quiet zone forward- and a casual cinema room or games room where you can play cards and just relax and talk. There are also two zones of leisure and business rooms with video conferencing- which are all fully adaptable. It is a totally safe and flexible living space.”

Mr. Winch’s design features two ensuite guest cabins on either side of a central corridor with sliding doors to create a private lobby for each. Both cabins have a single bed- which can convert to a double- with an optional third drop-down bunk-bed. The en suite bathrooms include showers and there is a further VIP suite- with a queen-size bed and 42' plasma screen. This suite also includes a dedicated dressing area and bathroom with shower.

In the middle of the aircraft an integrated cinema room offers sumptuous seating- and full surround-sound- while the central high/low sofa maximises viewing- encouraging the viewer to lie back. In front of the sofa are three fully reclining cinema chairs- flanked by two pivoting chaise longues.

For ultimate privacy or for older or disabled family members Seattle’s Greenpoint Technologies - a Boeing completions specialist - last year showed off new designs for owners who wish to have separate family and staff zones in their aircraft.

The company built the Aerolift- which takes passengers from the tarmac to the entrance of a 747-8- and also aids security- according to Mike Weisner- chief customer engineer at Greenpoint.

“The enclosed carriage descends directly to the tarmac- reducing the occupant’s exposure to public view- and it permits close-quarters boarding of awaiting ground transportation.”

The cubicle has been specifically sized to permit the transport of a wheelchair and attendant- creating a dignified- secure boarding experience. The company has also created a design it calls the “Aeroloft-” for the Boeing 747-8 - a multi-deck sleeping and lounge module. The Aeroloft consists of sleeping berth and lounge modules located above the main deck- and includes custom designed interior furnishings with a staircase.

Creating a splash

Today’s business travelers expect to see a shower on board ACJ and BBJ types. After six to eight hours- passengers like to freshen up. Typically on an Airbus A340 there will be three or four showers (three bedrooms with showers and one that is an extension of a communal lavatory). Passengers need to give crew two hours’ notice should they wish to take a shower during the flight- however.

Mr. Velupillai elaborated; “Our customers want to take a shower after a long flight- which means they arrive and are ready for business straightaway- and are not obliged to go to the hotel before a meeting.

“Customer expectations are always increasing in private aviation. People used to be satisfied with a traditional cabin - now they require something more comfortable- and a shower is part of that requirement.”

According to Boeing- 80 to 90 percent of BBJ owners install at least one shower and some owners install more than one.

French Designer Jacques Pierrejean’s first shower was for an Airbus A340 presidential aircraft. His latest project is an onboard spa to enhance passengers’ comfort during long flights.

However- having consulted with medical experts- Pierrejean warns that it is not advisable to bring gym equipment on board the aircraft as exercising heavily at altitude can be dangerous- whereas the ambience of a spa and a small stretching area can be soothing.

“I’m looking for the sort of wellbeing that you’d find in a five star hotel-” Pierrejean outlined. With attitudes like that at the design phase- entrepreneurs can certainly rest assured their aircraft will truly reflect the quality of living enjoyed in their homes on the ground - for themselves and their family.

Grand designs

So where can you go to turn your state-of-the-art new airliner into a flying masterpiece of cabin comfort?

• Airbus Corporate Jet Center - Toulouse- France: Airbus Corporate Jet Center began in 2007 at a cost of nearly $4 million and has subsequently proved to be a huge success.

• Associated Air Center – Dallas- Texas Associated Air Center specializes in widebody completions and has even outfitted a galley worthy of a 3-star chef.

• Comlux Completion – Zurich and Indianapolis Comlux Aviation has been a success story from the start. Parent company ‘the Aviation Group’ of Zurich is constantly expanding hangar space.

• Gore Design Completions – San Antonio- Texas Gore Design Completions has been steadily gaining market share in the large cabin completions sector thanks to innovative new design concepts. More information from www.goredesign.com

• Jet Aviation - Basel- Switzerland Jet Aviation’s renowned centre is one of the world’s largest. The facility even offers completions for the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350 aircraft.

• Lufthansa Technik – Hamburg- Germany With over 40 years of design and 30 full completions to date- Lufthansa Technik is among the most experienced completions centres in the world.

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