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Airbus A220 – Corporate Business Jet Competition

A Delta A220-100 landing in Dallas/Fort Worth after a proving flight. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ben Suskind)

In October 2020, Airbus announced they would offer the A220-100 as an Airbus Corporate Jet (ACJ), known as the ACJ TwoTwenty. The Toulouse, France-based manufacturer had limited success marketing the A319 as an ACJ with only around 70 currently operating as a corporate jet. So what makes them think they can be successful with the A220? After all, both aircraft are similar in size.

The A220 was originally manufactured by Bombardier, known as the C Series. It was launched in 2008 with the first flight in 2013. Designed for the 100-135 seat market, the first delivery was not until July 2016 when HB-JBA was delivered to Swiss International Air Lines.

In 2016 Airbus saw the potential for the advanced technological C Series and purchased a majority 50.01% share. They increased this to 75% in 2020 as Bombardier exited the program completely. Ironically it is now with Bombardier that they are competing within the corporate jet market. The C series was rebranded as the A220 in 2018 and Airbus proved to be significantly better at marketing the plane. Sales jumped by 50%. Over 230 have now been delivered with over 550 on order. Airbus also saw the potential for the aircraft to be used as a corporate jet, with the first aircraft nearing completion. C/N 50062, registered as 9H-FIVE is currently at Comlux in Indianapolis, which has the contract for VIP cabin outfitting. 

So what has made the aircraft so popular? Well, Airbus claims the A220 can achieve an overall 25% lower seat-mile cost and 25% lower fuel burn and CO2 emissions advantage over similar aircraft. A significant saving and understandably airlines have jumped at the chance to order them. But why would such a large aircraft be in demand as a corporate jet?

At the Airspace Customer Showroom in Toulouse, Airbus has developed the ACJ TwoTwenty creative studio to demonstrate to potential clients exactly why they should purchase it. They largely compare it to its nearest competitor, Bombardier’s Global 7500. So, let’s look at the facts. Although the A220 appears deceptively larger, at 35 meters, it is only 1.2 meters longer than the Global 7500.

This means it only uses a similar amount of ramp space. But offers an additional 7 meters of cabin length. This is due to the engine placement. The Global 7500 engines are mounted on the rear of the fuselage utilizing a large proportion of the length. With the A220s engines mounted on the wings, all this additional space can be used for the interior.

Also with an additional 0.84 meters in width and 0.25 meters in height, the A220 provides about 50% more cabin space, for only a slightly larger aircraft. The additional height, which stands at 2.13 meters, also means everyone is capable of standing fully upright and there is potential for such features as a shower, and the additional width allows for a full-size bed.

The one feature that the A220 does lose, is the range. Although its additional fuel tanks extend it to 5650 nm it doesn’t compare to the Global 7500s 7700 nm. But Airbus can defend against this as well. They took a survey of corporate flights and came to the conclusion that a range of 5650 nm was good enough for about 97% of them, with most customers preferring a stopover for longer flights.

Aircraft Price

So what about the price, surely it costs significantly more? Well, Airbus is marketing it for around $80 million. With Bombardier’s Global 7500, Gulfstream’s G700, and Dassault’s Falcon 10X all costing approximately $75 Million, it’s not a significant increase. Combined with its similar size, significant cost savings and a significant increase in cabin space, the aircraft could soon be attracting significantly more orders.

Airbus has also gone above and beyond to market the aircraft in the creative studio. Recognizing that clients have very different needs when it comes to cabin interiors they have already created a hundred possible layouts. Ranging from clients like heads of state, who may wish to have their own bedroom and bathroom, to large corporations who may require workstations for several employees.

Clients are able to visually see the cabin size with a small cabin mockup along with floor illuminations to see the actual floor space. Airbus is also quick to demonstrate the significant size increase over the other corporate jets, allowing clients to see exactly how much more space they will get.

Next to this, Airbus offers a wide range of different textiles and colors that can be used to outfit the cabin. Clients are able to choose exactly how they want the cabin to look and what materials they want, on the spot at the time of purchase. They are able to use an interactive TV to interchange materials and colors and see exactly how different materials will look next to each other. They have even developed a virtual reality program allowing the client to design the cabin and then walk through it in 3D.

If the client wants to see an actual A220 up close, Airbus also has the original prototype in the building. C/N 50001 C-FBCS is now used to market the aircraft to airlines and is fitted out in a normal seating configuration that airlines may use.

Mark Evans
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  • Mark Evans

    Mark has been interested in aviation since the age of eight when he first went plane spotting at Manchester Airport, England. Trips around various European airports in the following years and then to the USA as a teenager furthered his desire. This led to Mark wanting to work in the industry and at the age of twenty one was accepted to train as an Air Traffic Controller. After training and working for several years in England, Mark moved to Bahrain in the Middle East where he worked for six years. He then moved to Sydney, Australia where he resides today after twenty years in the profession. Mark's pursuit to see planes has seen him visit over 140 countries and territories, including places, like North Korea, Sudan and Iran. He has flown over 1,100 times, visited over 700 airports and can always be found researching his next trip.

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