Airbus has given the strongest hint yet that it could launch a re-engined version of its airliner-derived ACJ320 family as early as next year.

Speaking at a press conference on 7 December, Airbus Corporate Jets president Benoit Defforge said: “We are actively working on it and talking about it with our customers.” When pressed on a launch date for the aircraft, Defforge offered: “We need something to announce in 2015.”

Rival Boeing launched in April the BBJ Max, a re-engined version of its 737-based Boeing Business Jet and has since notched up four orders for the CFM International Leap-1B-powered narrowbody. The first BBJ Max 8 is scheduled to be delivered “green” to a private owner in 2018.

Airbus Corporate Jets marketing director David Velupillai says there has been no urgency to launch the ACJ320neo as corporate customers typically want to receive their aircraft within a year of placing an order. Airbus’s priority, he says, is gaining certification for the commercial variant next year.

“Our focus has to be on what we can deliver in the short-term,” he says.

Velupillai also believes that main selling point of the A320neo - chiefly the fuel burn improvement provided by the aircraft’s new CFM Leap-1A or Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engines - “is not a priority for corporate owners".

The airframer has also launched at the show an increase maximum take-off weight (MTOW) option for its sharklet-equipped ACJ319. Engineers discovered the opportunity when analysing the wing structure as part of work to incorporate the wing-tip modifications. Customers now have the option of a 77.3t MTOW or the baseline 76.5t. Range also increases by 350nm (650km).

Simultaneously, Airbus has unveiled a new version of its Summit interior concept for the ACJ330 - designed specifically for the Middle East market. Summit had it first outing at the NBAA convention in October and Airbus says it has since received "a lot of interest" in the configuration – which boasts a mix of economy- and business-class airliner style seating and a VIP interior in the front section.

“The ACJ330 Summit is priced at under $200 million,” says Defforge “and can be delivered within 30 months from placing the order.” The Summit interior is also available for retrofit on in-service A330s.

Airbus is exhibiting an ACJ319 at the show operated by Austrian business aviation services company MJet.

 

flightglobal.com