A U.S.-based design company is nearing completion of an interior design for a prospective customer for the VIP version of the Airbus A380 "Flying Palace" and has released an image to the public.
Airbus revealed that in February this year an unnamed customer had signed a letter of intent to purchase a VIP A380, although the client is yet to sign a firm order for the aircraft. The interior design, for an office of dining room, was created by Edese Doret Industrial Design.
The Airbus A380 superjumbo is a 555-passenger, double-decker jet set to be introduced into commercial service next year in the United States pending FAA approval. Aviation officials predict it's just a matter of time until it takes to the skies with all the trimmings of a private palace.
Company president Edese Doret says that while the design is nearing completion, it is still subject to adjustment by the client. "They will most likely make changes prior to design freeze," Doret said.
While Doret won't comment on whether the customer is from the Middle East, the images clearly show flat-screen moving map monitors carrying Arabic script with Dubai as the origin of a theoretical flightpath.
For the billionaire aviation enthusiast, ownership of a customized Airbus A380 represents treasure beyond price. And while commercial passengers are likely never to experience the deluxe accommodations of the privately owned Airbus A380s of the future it seems some are willing to spread the wealth.
British billionaire Sir Richard Branson has already declared his intention to install for the general flying public a range of products in the Upper Class cabin on his Virgin Atlantic fleet of Airbus A380s, including double bedrooms, bars, beauty salons and casinos.
Transporting your entourage from country X to country Y in time for the next urgent gathering of the great and the good can be a complex undertaking.
When they fly commercial, billionaires and their fellow travelers must struggle through seething crowds at airport terminals and wait in long lines for airline check-in and security processing. They sit scrunched like human pretzels in too-small seats where flight attendants sometimes cannot even provide a drink of water. Or they do something about it.
Eager to make their trips as hassle-free as possible, many of these individuals have taken to flying on private jets. Typically these small airplanes carry between six and 20 people, and check-in is handled at the general-aviation section of an airport. Passenger boarding and disembarkation take place on especially reserved areas of the tarmac, and helicopter connections can usually be provided if required.
Recently, however, a new trend has emerged at the very top of the market: the conversion for private ownership of much larger--and more expensive--jets that are normally associated with commercial airlines. These are planes like the Airbus A319 and A320; the Boeing 737, called the 737BBJ and 757; and even the twin-aisle wide-bodies such as the 747, 767 and 777.
All have been sold to private customers, including two 767s last year to the founders of Google.
While Edese Doret Industrial Design's interior has been created for a specific client, Lufthansa Technik, the Germany-based provider of technical support and maintenance for over 300 of the world's airlines and operators, has also designed an Airbus A380 for potential private clients that includes rooms with king-sized beds, deep pile carpeting and en-suite bathrooms; an office with Web and e-mail access; a dining room that can be used for entertaining guests or conducting business meetings; and a theater.
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Jennifer Coutts Clay is also the author of "Jetliner Cabins" available at jetlinercabins.com and amazon.com. Brian Davidson is based in Switzerland.