CJI Global 2020: New luxury A220 modular cabin concept ‘meets today’s needs’


A new modular cabin design for the Airbus A220 delivers luxurious cabins, flexible re-configurable options and an attractive price point, according to the three companies behind the venture.

Camber Aviation Management, Kestrel Aviation Management and Pierrejean Vision have joined forces to offer the corporate jet cabin solution for the new-generation Airbus A220.

The partners believe the A220 is an ideal platform for cabin design innovation. Offering cabin floorspace and volume equivalent to Airbus’ ACJ319neo and Boeing’s BBJ Max7, the Airbus A220 integrates leading-edge technologies and safety features equal or superior to the latest generation business jets, said Tom Chatfield, CEO of Camber Aviation Management.

“We detected an opportunity in the market for a niche aircraft that could fulfil up to 90% of the missions operated by current large-cabin corporate jets and deliver a luxurious cabin at an attractive price point,” Chatfield told Corporate Jet Investor.

“The concept is built on the premise that rather than being a bespoke one-off cabin design, such as on a BBJ or an Airbus ACJ, we would build a modular cabin concept. This involves using three fixed zones in the aircraft and four modular ones to enable clients to choose the design that fitted their changing circumstances.”

The fixed zones include a common entry and galley, mid-cabin VIP lavatory and a master suite with ensuite washroom featuring a unique steam shower. The four flexible cabin zones can be designed to accommodate clients’ changing needs. So, owners may choose initially to install a children’s bedroom in the rear of the cabin, which could later be changed to a private office or another suite, as family and business needs change. Alternatively, a head of state may require space to accommodate an entourage.

Latest technologies

Latest technologies have allowed the team to create a cabin design that combines functionality and aesthetics with reliability and ease of maintenance. That’s a combination that cannot be easily realised for one-off prototype designs in legacy large-cabin aircraft, said Chatfield.

The modular design also significantly reduces manufacturing and certification costs, which helps to achieve an attractive price point in the market while providing a bespoke and highly capable aircraft, said Chatfield. “In addition, we amortise the cost of the modular cabin installation over several aircraft, which brings the price down but, more importantly, enables us to invest in aspects of reliability,” he added. “So, the price point is somewhere between a Global 7500 and an outfitted BBJ aircraft while not being a prototype.”

Stephen Vella, CEO of Kestrel Aviation Management, takes up the theme. “With an ACJ or BBJ, the non-recurring costs of a single aeroplane can be anywhere between a third to a half of the total cost of the cabin conversion,” said Vella. “So, a lot of fixed cost goes into a cabin. But with our modular design, cost amortises over several aeroplanes, rather than going a single design.”

So, why launch the new cabin design now – amid the worse global pandemic in a century or more. Vella sees a more fundamental problem and opportunity beyond the current health emergency – critical though that is.

“We saw a continued divergence between the products offered by Gulfstream and Bombardier, in much smaller fuselages and the cabins offered compared to Airbus and Boeing platforms, not so much by the OEMs because they supply green aircraft but by designers,” he said. “There was a divergence because the inflexibility of many cabin designs and the resulting costs growing out of control.”

Vella added that the wait times for one-off designs are growing longer, due to the increasing complexities of cabin technologies. “That was our motivation to come up with a modular concept that would shorten the delivery time, lower the cost and reduce the risk to the customer.”

The selection of a modular cabin design was based on 20 years’ experience in VVIP cabin design that identified three key priorities: Customised luxury, in a spacious cabin capable of seating of 10-32 passengers, Range capability, at maximum payload that covers most of the missions operated by current large cabin aircraft, and exceptional global communications. (Read more in the box below).

‘Advantages of business aviation’

Turning to the implications of the Covid-19 health crisis, the team believes health concerns will prompt a new wave of private aviation customers who have the means to pay for exclusive and luxurious travel. Chatfield explains: “People with the means will seriously consider travelling privately. The advantages of business aviation in terms of convenience are now going to be massively supplemented by the fact that you are going to be more secure than in a commercial aircraft.”

Vella believes that cost may be a more important factor promoting interest in the modular design cabin concept. “People will be much more cost and cash conscious. Every penny spent will be influenced by the economic strain and emotional pressure of Covid-19.”

When the time comes to replace aging aircraft, it will be a good time to choose aircraft that are much more cost-effective for the same cabin volume. “That’s going to be one of the main drivers – choosing the same cabin volume but with significantly cheaper cabins – without sacrificing the customer’s design expectations and product quality,” said Vella.

To deliver the design, the three partners agreed a deal to collaborate with aircraft and yacht interiors company F/List and international maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) firm Flying Colours Corporation to refine the detail design and perform engineering studies. F/List was chosen for their unique skills in building exceptional VIP jet cabin interiors while Flying Colours was selected for their extensive engineering and cabin integration skills.

Personalisation is important, said Jacques Pierrejean, CEO of Pierrejean Vision. “Even greater personalisation is achieved by applying the client’s preferred colour pallet, materials and finishes to create a truly one-of-a-kind cabin design within the innovative modular concept.”

Pooling their respective expertise, the three partners plan to open a new chapter in luxurious, flexible cabin design for the post Covid-19 world – at an attractive price point.


Three key features required in VIP aircraft

  • -Customised luxury in a spacious cabin capable of seating of 10 – 32 passengers. An elegant modular, configurable layout to suit the different requirements of private and corporate owners, heads of state and charter operators
  • -Range capability at maximum payload that covers 90% of the missions operated by current large cabin aircraft, including key transatlantic, Middle East to Europe and intra-Asia missions
  • -Exceptional global communications with a wide range of entertainment options that rival or exceed amenities enjoyed by customers in their homes, while being at least 20% less expensive to own and operate compared to direct competitors.

Source: Research by Camber Aviation Management, Kestrel Aviation Management and Pierrejean Vision.

Above: the luxurious guest cabin design; part of the modular cabin concept.