It would of course be indelicate to mention this in an election campaign predicated on economic rectitude, but Airbus has come out with a nonstop from Canberra-to-anywhere-in-the-world super corporate jet for the next PM.
The Airbus Corporate Jet version of the A350-900 will have a still air range of 20,000 kms for up to 25 VIPs.
That makes Canberra to Washington DC (Dulles airport) at 15,903 kms, or to London Heathrow 17,005 kms, more than do-able, even with the headwinds and less than optimal routings that reflect the reality of flight in air that is never as still as Airbus or its competitor Boeing might wish to suggest in their sales pitches.
The Airbus ACJ350 appears to be the first real offering of an airliner able to fly the long fixated about non-stop route from Canberra or any Australian capital city to London on a reliable basis at short notice.
However not with as many as the 180 or so passenger count rumored for Singapore Airlines when it takes delivery in 2018 of the A350-900 ULR or ultra long range model of the new technology Airbus twin engined body design, and uses it to re-enter the non-stop Singapore-Newark (for NYC) route that it originally flew with the Airbus A340-500.
The initial -900 version the A350 has been in service for almost 18 months, carrying multi class cabins with close to 300 seats for a number of airlines and with the capability of doing non-stop services as long as any currently operated from Australia.
Qatar Airways in already flying an A350-900 non-stop between Doha and Adelaide, and Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific expect to operate their first flights in this initial standard model of the jet in the very near future.
The ULR version of the -900, the basis for the corporate version, is set to be ready for service close to the delivery of the first stretched A350-1000s, and that larger model will also be offered in a customised VIP format.
Think of A350 as being like 787s without the claustrophobia, at least until someone decides that like the originally spaciously configured Dreamliner, it too should be rendered insufferable with tiny, tiny seats set so close together yours knees generate bone pain.
Not that the next Prime Minister of Australia would dream of jamming an ACJ A350 that tight when the contract for the somewhat aged and rather meanly outfitted Boeing BBJs entered into by the Howard administration comes up for renewal. Although, maybe for the press gallery …..
The flexible cabin options for the A350, and indeed all large corporate jets, could see it able to operate very long range flights with easily 100 passengers in VIP arrangements with a few prime ministerial bedrooms, plus offices, showers, and who knows, even a mini gym.
The parliamentary press gallery could all actually get business class sized seats to rival the current leaders of the pack when it comes to such amenity, which are those to be found in today’s Etihad A380 services or the newly reconfigured Virgin Australia 777-300ERs.
However, mark this up, as most readers may have already done, as something a future government might aspire to, in the interests of having an appropriate, flexible, efficient and indeed low key working jet for the Prime Minister and his or her entourage.