- 10 Jan 2020
- Aircraft Ownership
How do the Airbus ACJ319neo and the Boeing BBJ MAX 8 compare side-by-side? What are the advantages offered by each model? Mike Chase analyses the performance and productivity parameters.Back to Articles
Over the following paragraphs we’ll consider key productivity parameters for the Airbus ACJ319neo and Boeing BBJ MAX 8, including payload, range, speed, and cabin size, to establish which aircraft provides the better value in the bizliner market.
Will a range difference of 60nm (with each jet carrying eight passengers) prove to be a competitive edge in this arena of Business Aviation? It is hoped that the following jet comparison will help clarify.
The Airbus ACJ319neo has been in production since 2019. There are four wholly-owned Airbus ACJ319neo jets in operation worldwide.
Airbus’ newly launched ACJ319neo family features new, more efficient PW1127G engines, wingtip mounted Sharklets, improved cabin comfort, and upgraded fuel and baggage capacity.
By continent, Europe has the largest fleet percentage. Three units (75% of the fleet) are based in Europe, with a further unit based in Singapore, according to JETNET.
Boeing BBJ MAX 8
The Boeing BBJ MAX 8 has been in production since 2018, and similar to the ACJ319neo, there are four wholly-owned units in operation around the world.
The BBJ Max 8 is a VVIP variant of the Boeing 737 Max 8 with new CFMI Leap-1B28 engines and advanced winglets, providing 13% more efficient fuel burn.
By continent, North America is home to three BBJ MAX 8 units, and Hong Kong is home to one unit, according to JETNET. One of the Boeing BBJ MAX 8 jets is leased.
Payload & Range Comparison
When comparing bizliners, an important area for potential operators to focus on is payload capability, and especially the ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’. Table A shows the Boeing BBJ MAX 8’s ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’ to be 7,147lbs, which is more than double the 3,074lbs offered by the Airbus ACJ319neo.
Table A: Airbus ACJ319neo vs Boeing BBJ MAX 8 Payload Comparison
As shown in Chart A, the Airbus ACJ319neo has greater cabin height (7.4ft vs 7.1ft) and width (12.1ft vs 11.6ft) than the Boeing BBJ MAX 8. Not depicted, however, is cabin length. Here, the BBJ MAX 8 offers an advantage of nearly 20ft (98.5ft vs 79ft), resulting in a larger cabin volume for the Boeing model. Both models are typically designed to seat 19 in executive configuration. The Boeing BBJ MAX 8 provides more external luggage volume (633cu.ft.) than the Airbus ACJ319neo (128cu.ft.).
Chart A: Airbus ACJ319neo vs Boeing BBJ MAX 8 Cabin Comparison
Using Toulouse-Blagnac in France as the start point, Chart B shows the Airbus ACJ319neo has a range of 6,750nm with eight passengers and available fuel. The Boeing BBJ MAX 8 has a range of 6,690nm, which is 60nm less.
Note: For business jets, ‘Eight Pax Range’ represents the maximum IFR range of the aircraft at long range cruise. The NBAA IFR fuel reserve calculation is for a 200nm alternate. This range does not include winds aloft or any other weather-related obstacles.
Chart B: Airbus ACJ319neo vs Boeing BBJ MAX 8 Range Comparison
The Airbus ACJ319neo has two Pratt & Whitney PW1127G engines, providing 26,800lbst each. These burn 626 gallons of fuel per hour. By comparison, the Boeing BBJ MAX 8 has two CFMI LEAP 1B28 engines producing 27,900lbst each, and burning 660 gallons of fuel per hour.
Cost per Mile Comparison
Chart C details ‘Cost per Mile’, per JETNET. It compares the two bizliners factoring direct operating costs and with both aircraft flying a 1,000nm mission with 1,600lbs (eight passengers) payload.
The Boeing BBJ ($14.09/nm) has a highest variable cost compared to the Airbus ACJ319neo ($12.65/nm). That’s a difference of $1.44 (10.2%) in favor of the Airbus ACJ319neo.
Chart C: Airbus ACJ319neo vs Boeing BBJ MAX 8 Cost Per Mile Comparison
Variable Cost Comparison
The ‘Variable Cost’, illustrated in Chart D, is defined as the estimated cost of fuel, maintenance labor, scheduled parts, and miscellaneous trip expenses (e.g., hangar, crew, and catering), per JETNET.
These costs DO NOT represent a direct source into every flight department and their trip support expenses. For comparative purposes, the costs presented are the relative differences, not the actual differences since these may vary from one flight department to another.
The Airbus ACJ319neo ($5,582/hr.) has a lower variable cost compared to the Boeing BBJ MAX 8 ($5,605/hr.) – a difference of $23.
Chart D: Airbus ACJ319neo vs Boeing BBJ MAX 8 Variable Cost Comparison
Market Comparison Table
Table B contains the new 2022 prices (per B&CA) for the Airbus ACJ319neo and the Boeing BBJ MAX 8. Also listed are the long-range cruise speed and range numbers, per B&CA. The number of aircraft in-operation, the percentage for sale, and average sold are from JETNET.
As shown, there is a price difference of $2.3m between the two aircraft, with the ACJ319neo being the less costly.
The average number of used transactions (units sold) over the previous 12 months is one for the Airbus ACJ319neo and none for the Boeing BBJ MAX 8. This is unsurprising, given the low number of units in operation.
Table B: Airbus ACJ319neo vs Boeing BBJ MAX 8 Market Comparison
Aircraft that are owned and operated by businesses are often depreciable for income tax purposes under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS). Under MACRS, taxpayers can use accelerated depreciation of assets by taking a greater percentage of the deductions during the first few years of the applicable recovery period.
In certain cases, aircraft may not qualify under the MACRS system and must be depreciated under the less favorable Alternative Depreciation System (ADS), based on a straight-line method meaning that equal deductions are taken during each year of the applicable recovery period. In most cases, recovery periods under ADS are longer than recovery periods available under MACRS.
There is a variety of factors that taxpayers must consider in determining if an aircraft may be depreciated, and, if so, the correct depreciation method and recovery period that should be utilized. For example, aircraft used in charter service (Part 135) are normally depreciated under MACRS over a seven-year recovery period, or under ADS using a twelve-year recovery period.
Aircraft used for qualified business purposes, such as Part 91 business use flights, are generally depreciated under MACRS over a period of five years or by using ADS with a seven-year recovery period. There are certain uses of the aircraft, such as non-business flights, that may have an impact on the allowable depreciation deduction available in any given year.
The US enacted the 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act into law on December 22, 2017. Under the Act, taxpayers may be able to deduct up to 100% of the cost of a new or pre-owned aircraft purchased and placed in service before January 1, 2023.
This 100% expensing provision is a huge bonus for aircraft owners and operators. After December 31, 2022, the Act decreases the percentage available each year by 20% to depreciate qualified bizliners until December 31, 2026.
Table C depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2022 edition Airbus ACJ319neo in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods.
Meanwhile, Table D depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2022 model Boeing BBJ MAX 8 in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods. The price published in Tables C and D are as published by B&CA.
Table C and D Boeing MAX 8 and Airbus ACJ319 neo Sample MACRS Tax Depreciation schedules
Used Aircraft Retail Sale Transaction Trends
As of October 10, 2022, there was one 2019-model Airbus ACJ319neo for sale with 59 hours of usage. No asking price was provided. There were two Boeing BBJ MAX 8s for sale – one 2019 and one 2020 model – both of which were inviting offers, according to JETNET.
While each aircraft serial number is unique, the Airframe Total Time (AFTT) and age/condition will cause great variation in the price of a specific aircraft – even between two aircraft from the same year of manufacture. The final negotiated price remains to be decided between the seller and buyer before the sale of an aircraft is completed.
The points in Chart E are centered on the same aircraft. Pricing used in the horizontal axis is as published in B&CA. The productivity index requires further discussion since factors used can be somewhat arbitrary. Productivity can be defined (and it is here) as the multiple of three factors:
1. Eight Passenger Range (nm) with available fuel
2. The long-range cruise speed flown to achieve that range
3. The cabin volume available for passengers and amenities
Chart E: Airbus ACJ319neo vs Boeing BBJ MAX 8 Productivity Comparison
Others may choose different parameters, but serious business aircraft buyers are usually impressed with price, range, speed, and cabin size.
The Airbus ACJ319neo has a lower price for a 2022 model ($105m vs $107.3m), offers slightly more range, and has lower operating costs compared to the Boeing BBJ MAX 8. However, the Boeing BBJ MAX 8 provides a greater cabin volume and more than twice as much available payload with full fuel.
Prospective buyers of one of these bizliners would have to weigh the capabilities of each very carefully against their specific mission need to determine which one is the best fit for their flight operations.
The evidence appears to point towards those needing to carry more people or payload requiring the Boeing BBJ MAX 8, whereas those with a lighter payload requirement may be swayed by a slightly lower cost option in the Airbus ACJ319neo which also provides slightly greater range.
However, buying decisions are rarely so clear-cut – it’s advisable to consult with an experienced broker to discuss your specific travel needs against the options available on the market.
Within these paragraphs we have touched upon several of the attributes that bizliner operators value, although there are other qualities, such as airport performance, terminal area performance and time-to-climb that might factor in a buying decision.
Ultimately there is plenty for a prospective buyer to consider when deciding which performance criteria is better suited to them. Both models featured here offer great value in today’s market.
Brief Bizliner History
Commercial aircraft have been specifically built for corporate or business use since the late 1990s, though former airliners had been repurposed as ‘business jets’ for decades prior to that.
Boeing was the first company to react to perceived demand for purpose-built bizliners, introducing the Boeing Business Jet (BBJ), based on the airframe of the Boeing 737, in 1998. An ultra-long-range twin-turbofan jet, Boeing used the fuselage of the 737-700 with the strengthened wings and the landing gear of the larger 737-800.
Airbus followed Boeing into this new top-level Business Aviation segment with the Airbus Corporate Jet (ACJ) in 1999, which was based on the A320 airframe. Both companies subsequently expanded and upgraded their bizliner portfolios to offer models with a wide range of cabin sizes and ranges, all based on their existing commercial airliner products.
Moving into the present day, Airbus and Boeing have been fully justified in their forays into the Business Aviation market. Bizliners number 292 units in operation, with 170 (58%) of the total fleet being Boeing-built jets, according to JETNET. These spacious jets are commonly used by sports teams, governments, and various global corporations worldwide.
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