The Airbus ACJ Two Twenty was launched last October by Airbus, and is somewhat a cross between a business jet and business liner. The ACJ Two Twenty is smaller than the A320 family based ACJ or Boeing Business Jets, but still offers a cabin size 2-3 times that of the large intercontinental business jets. Yet the ramp profile of the aircraft is quite similar in terms of overall length and wingspan to a Bombardier Global 7500 or Gulfstream G650/G700.
A New Class?
Airbus believes that the ACJ Two Twenty creates a new class – the extra-large business jet that falls between intercontinental business jets and converted airliners. As with any aircraft decision, there are trade-offs in terms of key performance characteristics, which include range, cabin comfort, speed, runway performance, and ownership costs.
In terms of range, the ACJ Two Twenty offers a 5,600 nm range, which is not as long as its competition. But given that only 1.6% of flights for operators not located in Australia are longer in range, the capability meets 98.4% of typical business jet operations in most of the world’s markets.
Speed is also a tradeoff, as the ACJ Two Twenty cruises at M.78 versus M.85 plus from its competitors, who reach over M.9 in high speed operations. While operating slower, the trade-off is spending that additional time in a narrower tube or in a larger and more comfortable cabin.
The cabin volume of the ACJ Two Twenty is 2-3 times that of the competing aircraft, enabling better comfort for passengers. The cabin has several standardized options to maintain competitive pricing, and the ACJ Two Twenty is priced just below the G700 and Global 7500. The following photo illustrates a full king-sized bed in the ACJ Two Twenty bedroom.
Runway performance is important to reach smaller airports that are closest to business destinations, and surprisingly the ACJ Two Twenty has better runway performance than either of its business jet competitors, including the ability to operate at difficult airports like LCY.
Pricing and operating economics is another trade-off, and Airbus plans to price the ACJ Two Twenty at just below the G700 and Global 7500. The operating economics of the ACJ Two Twenty are projected to be better than the pure business jet competitors, benefitting from the airline reliability built into the product and the latest in maintenance technologies, including on-board diagnostics. The ACJ Two Twenty is also a greener airplane, with lower fuel burn, emissions and noise than competing aircraft, resulting in operating costs projected to be 1/3rd lower than those of competing intercontinental business jets.
The Trade Offs
The major trade-off is between speed and range for comfort, operating costs, and runway performance. Those who prefer the former will likely choose a Global 7500 or G700, while those who like the latter will likely choose the ACJ Two Twenty.
With first deliveries coming in 2023, this new model will bring a different competitive dynamic to the top end of the business jet market. Situated between the ultra-long range business jets from Bombardier and Gulfstream and the traditional business liners from Boeing and Airbus, the unique capabilities of the ACJ Two Twenty will define a new market niche. With only around 400 business liners in service versus 2,200 ultra-long-range jets, it is clear that Airbus hopes to attract some of the customers from the larger market to the aircraft that is in between the two existing segments.
Whether we can declare a new class of aircraft, or a market niche, will depend on which trade-offs are most attractive to potential customers and the results of their decision process. One thing we do know is that the capabilities of the ACJ Two Twenty bring a new competitive dynamic to the top-end of the business jet marketplace.