Most private jets are compact little things, with the Cessnas, Gulfstreams and Bombardiers providing the lion’s share of the flying capacity for the world’s super-rich. But for some families, private flying requires a little more space and a lot more luxury. Such is the case of the owners of G-KELT, the world’s first A320neo to be built as a corporate jet.
Simple Flying had the opportunity to tour the aircraft during the recent Dubai Air Show. Here’s a tour of what you can find onboard.
The first ACJ320neo
The ACJ320neo is operated by Acropolis Aviation, based at Farnborough Airport in the UK. G-KELT is a privately owned aircraft, but is available for charter when they are not making use of it. Acropolis became the launch customer for the ACJ320neo back in May 2015. Last month, the aircraft made its first public appearance at the Dubai Air Show.
As a private jet, the ACJ320neo has some pretty impressive statistics. It can accommodate up to 19 passengers alongside a support crew of up to six. There is space for more than 100 items of luggage onboard, and the aircraft can fly for up to 12 hours. Acropolis is certified to operate to the US and Canada under the US FAA Part 129 certificate, and the aircraft has CATIII ILS, allowing it to take off and land in poor visibility conditions.
The aircraft arrived in the UK in February 2020, having undergone 13 months of cabin fitting at Basel in Switzerland. The creator was the iconic Alberto Pinto firm, under the supervision of designer Yves Pickardt, and the fitting was carried out by AMAC Aerospace. Let’s see what they came up with.
A penthouse in the sky
As soon as you enter the Pinto-designed ACJ, you know you’re stepping into something special. For the purposes of giving tours, the luxury carpets were covered with plastic protection, but that didn’t prevent visitors from experiencing the spongy luxury under their feet – highly unusual for stepping on a plane!
From the main door, a large galley and staff area is to the left, while on the right, a flush wall panel opens to reveal the first of the bathrooms onboard the plane. A marbled plinth supports a golden sink, with a large gold mixer tap above. The walls are paneled in dark wood veneer, beautifully offsetting the gold and brass finishings for a very luxurious appearance.
Through to the first of two lounge areas, and the thing that really strikes you is the height and space available in this Airbus jet. With no overhead bins or passenger service units, there’s a cathedral-like appeal to the social space here. Seating is very homely, with leather chairs and a fabric upholstery on the sofa that just makes you want to dive in.
The armchairs are all able to be converted into lie flat beds, providing loads of flexibility in terms of accommodating the guests. Light streams in from the uninterrupted windows, with electric blinds on hand to shut it out when required. Rather than overhead bins, the ceiling of the neo is uplit by LED mood lighting, helping to create the right ambiance whatever the occasion.
Throughout the lounge areas, what’s really interesting is Pickardt’s use of textures and materials to create a really residential feeling. The variety of finishes really makes you forget you’re onboard an aircraft, rather that you’re standing in a luxury apartment or high-end hotel room.
Also interesting is the way there is so much technology packed into the aircraft, yet it can all be hidden away at a moment’s notice. Monitors rise up out of furniture, seatbelts are present but slotted away from view… it’s a very clever way of keeping the ugly necessities out of sight for a refined, stylish appearance.
Further back, a second lounge area appears. This one is similarly well-appointed, but with folding tables for dining and meeting. Despite being a more formal area, the use of designer lamps and similarly textural materials retains that at-home feeling that is characteristic of this plane.
At the back is the master suite, hosting a full-sized double bed and acres of storage space. The built-in vanity can double as a work desk, and the little stool accompanying it has thoughtfully had a lap belt added, to avoid the occupant having to move if the aircraft encounters turbulence.
At the very rear of the master suite, a curved wood veneer door with a cute porthole window leads through to the master bathroom. This opulent space is built for luxury, with a large sink, a lavatory that doubles as a seating area and a full-sized shower that would put the A380 to shame.
Overall, it’s a beautiful aircraft and yet another showcase of the inimitable talent of Pickardt and the team at Pinto. For those lucky enough to get to fly this beauty, they are certainly in for a unique treat.