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The Value Option

Let us imagine you know that business aircraft fulfill your business and personal travel needs - after all, you have been using air taxis and private charter companies for some time. Maybe it is appropriate now to consider buying your own aircraft. Did you know that choices exist other than the obvious ones offered by the major manufacturers?

AvBuyer   |   1st January 2012
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Refurbished Large Business Jets:

Let us imagine you know that business aircraft fulfill your business and personal travel needs - after all, you have been using air taxis and private charter companies for some time. Maybe it is appropriate now to consider buying your own aircraft. Did you know that choices exist other than the obvious ones offered by the major manufacturers?

The major aircraft makers offer great choices and they make fine aircraft, but it is also worth considering some other options available to you. After all, if you placed an order for a new aircraft today, you might not receive it for several years. You can turn to the pre-owned market while you wait, or perhaps there are other alternatives that would prove more suitable to you.

There are some very good aircraft that are not as expensive as brand-new large business jets but still deliver luxury, rapid international transportation and personal convenience. The good news is that even if you are considering buying a new mid-size aircraft, a similar investment in one of these large refurbished jets will get you more space, customized furnishings and an aircraft that is guaranteed to impress your business colleagues and friends.

The aircraft we are discussing here are regional jets that have been released by airline operators and acquired by specialist companies that fully refurbish them to your personal requirements. There are three leading contenders in this particular class: the Bombardier Challenger 850, the Avro RJ series and the Dornier 328JET - each available from specialist suppliers.

Challenger 850
The Challenger 850 (and the larger Challenger 870) is available new from Bombardier for an average equipped price of $33million and it is increasingly popular with customers in China. Currently there are 10 to 15 Challenger 850s in service here. It is the same aircraft as the CRJ200 airliner, and Bombardier sub-contracts completion of new Challenger 850s to Flying Colours, based at Peterborough near Toronto, Canada.

For a price of just $12-14million, however, Flying Colours can deliver an ex-airline version with a beautiful new cabin trimmed in wood and leather, a cockpit re-equipped with the latest avionics, and fitted with an additional long-range fuel tank giving almost 5,000km of range (to place Jakarta within range non-stop from Beijing). A similar aircraft is also available as the Phoenix CRJ200 from Project Phoenix, based in Dubai.

Inside, the Challenger 850 can be fitted to your requirements. It will typically have seating for 15 passengers in three distinct cabin zones, including a forward “club-four” section, a central dining area and a divan to the rear of the cabin. The aircraft offers a large restroom and a fully-equipped galley to the front of the cabin, and the baggage compartment is accessible in flight from the rear of the cabin. The latest entertainment systems such as Airshow 410 and the Aircell 3500 Iridium satellite communications system can also be installed.

The Challenger 850 is an imposing aircraft with a forward air-stair entry door and a cabin high enough to accommodate a standing person. Twelve windows on each side enable a bright and spacious passenger experience.

Avro ABJ
Next, the Avro ABJ (known to many airline travelers as the Avro RJ or British Aerospace BAe.146) is sold by Falko, and more than 20 are operated by VIP users including the British Royal Family, Formula 1 racing tycoon Bernie Ecclestone and the governments of Indonesia and Bahrain.

This high-wing aircraft has four engines and is built in three versions with different fuselage lengths - thus executive models can be found with different cabin sizes. The cabin itself is one of the widest in Business Aviation - 11ft 2ins (3.42m) - which is similar to that of a Boeing Business Jet. This size allows designers to install spacious lounge areas, dining rooms and private bedrooms.

Falko teamed with design consultancy Design Q to create several state-of-the-art interiors known as the ABJ Eleganté and the ABJ Fusion, which offer exciting modern colors combined with traditional leathers and wood veneers. Prices for these aircraft range from $12-15million.

Ultimately, the ABJ Explorer is a “go-anywhere” aircraft, and it can even incorporate a large rear cargo hatch which opens to allow a sundeck to be extended while the aircraft is stationary. No ABJs have been fitted with this optional feature so far, however. The ABJ offers a range of 3,289km, enabling Bangkok to be reached non-stop from Beijing, for example.

The Dornier 328DBJ
This airliner, built by Fairchild-Dornier between 1998 and 2005 (also known as the Envoy 3) exudes German engineering quality. As a result it has become very popular with executive charter companies. The average price of $12million (depending on equipment) makes it a competitive option. Conversions are carried out by 328 Support Services GmbH at Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.

The Dornier has a comfortably tall cabin and a width measuring 7ft 2ins (2.18m) across (placing its height and width between that of the Embraer Legacy and the Challenger 850). Once again, the interior layout is to the customer’s choice with modern decor and fittings from CTM Design, which also specializes in fitting out luxury yachts.

The aircraft will normally incorporate a forward galley, rear lavatory with accessible baggage compartment, and three groups of four facing seats in the cabin. With a 3,519km range the Dornier could fly non-stop from Beijing to Allahabad if needed.

Weighing the choices
Choosing a business aircraft always depends on your personal requirements for travel, and these large jets offer interesting options. The Challenger has longer range than the other two but its cabin is narrower than that of the Avro. The Avro offers great scope for a personalized interior but, with four engines the operating cost will be more. The Dornier, meanwhile, leaves the German factory with a bright and roomy cabin and is suitable for mid-range journeys.

These are fine aircraft, and each is worth serious consideration.

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