Should private planes be considered luxury real estate? I think so. Possibly the most expensive real estate ever built, in fact. Any one who has ever flown on a commercial jet and been treated like cattle must have dreamed of owning a private jet. It is hard to imagine a more luxurious, comfortable, personal, splendiferous and dignified travel experience than flying by private plane, preferably a jet.
The Most Expensive Private Jet
Although airliners are usually reserved for public, commercial flights, if you have more money than you know what to do with, consider a private airliner. Clearly, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, cousin to the Saudi Arabian king has more money than he knows what to do with. He is the first private buyer of the largest luxury jet on the planet – an Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger plane. An Airbus A380 can travel 9,000 miles nonstop, without refueling – from Chicago to Sydney, Australia. Many more after the jump.
Airbus A380 Exterior
Alwaleed bin Talal may be one of the richest men on planet earth, but the final cost of this “Flying Palace” is still pretty staggering, at least as far as I can determine. No one is prepared to talk actual figures. The list price of an A380 is $320 million – for the shell. The interior design is expected to cost at least $200 million and will take up to two years to complete.The options include private bedrooms, a fully-equipped interior office or board room, a curvy cocktail bar which boasts a super-size TV screen and even a gym with a Jacuzzi and a Sauna. The Daily Mail described it as “Lawrence of Arabia meets Star Wars,” which sounds about right. He’ll also need a flight crew of about 15 staff to operate it. Edese Doret Industrial Design are rumored to have got the job, and released a number of mock-up photos.
Airbus A380-800 Interior Design
Designer Jets – Customized Luxury Interiors
A luxury jet calls for luxury interior design. Who wants to spend millions for velour seating? Donald Trump’s 727-23 includes seats with 24-carat-gold seatbelt buckles, Waterford crystal lamps and oil paintings. Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA basketball team, reportedly had custom seats installed on his 767-277 aircraft that are large enough to accommodate the team’s very tall players. Aircraft interior design is a booming business (or at least it was until last year) with several well-known brands started to take an interest in designing expensive interiors.
BMW Group Designworks USA’s Boeing 787
One interesting feature of this design is the glass floor of the bar showing a BMW car underneath. I wonder if you can drive it off the plane after landing? BMW are also doing some pretty radical designs on the new Airbus A350 – with a projector that will project an image on the ceiling showing “whatever is appropriate for the mood required. For example the night sky or clouds etc.” No comment.
Versace (in collaboration with TAG Aircraft Interiors) ‘s Airbus A319
I have never really understood the whole,”If you can design a pair of jeans, you can design an aircraft interior,” approach and judging from this, Versace should stick to what they know best. I guess if you own a white Lamborghini with black and white leather……
The Most Compact Private aircraft – The ICON A5
The ICON A5 is a light-sport aircraft, scheduled for delivery in 2010 that aims to bridge the gap between flying and other motorsports. It is not actually a jet, but I found the whole idea so entertaining I have included it anyway. The A5 can apparently take off from any body of water or landing strip. This two-seater lightweight aircraft includes folding wings, allowing it to be tailored or garaged. It was co-developed by a skateboard designer and an F-16 pilot, which sounds like a far more interesting combination than the previous duo. The interesting thing is the price – less than $140K which sounds pretty darn cheap for a private plane. Wonder if my wife would object? “Oh, by the way, darling, I bought a private plane this afternoon.” Nope. Not going to fly. At least the A5 does though – this is a video of their first flight.
The fastest, quietest Private Jet – The QSST
In a hurry? Time is money sort of person? No sweat – The 12-passenger Quiet Supersonic Transport (QSST) can make it from Los Angeles to New York in a tad over two hours. When the aircraft travels faster than the speed of sound, the inverted-V tail and other design features reduce the noise and it apparently sounds just like a flying kite. Lavish interior design with a deluxe bathroom and a fully-wired A/V system make it seriously-wealthy only. If you have a couple of billion dollars laying around, the QSST has your name on it. Price – $80 million, plus goodness-knows-how-much in running costs. Now this is what I call a private jet.
The Future of Air Travel
With the western world seemingly determined to “reduce dependence on foreign oil,” it is inevitable we will come up with alternatives. One thing is for sure – at some point, we are going to run out of fuel for the current crop of luxury planes, and it will be interesting to see what the designers come up with to replace them with. Here are a few possibilities. Some of these are still on the drawing board, but some of them are further advanced.
The Most Fuel-effective and Eco-friendly private Aircraft – Solar Impulse
When Ford tells you the best they can manage is 45 mpg, just remember the Solar Impulse. No fuel, no pollution, and can fly day or night with solar power only. Although its overlong wings look a little out of proportion, it works. At least virtually – so far. Sponsored, rather oddly by Omega watches.
Will giant airships be the future of luxury air travel? According to the makers, the Aeroscraft ML866 is “a new paradigm in air transport – an aircraft that utilizes a combination of buoyant and dynamic lift creating unique operational capabilities beyond what is available from any other air platform today.”
The “Flying Yacht” is designed and built on the basis of a new concept in flight which provides a more comfortable and safer way to enjoy the luxury flying experience. It is about the length of three football fields and can take off vertically, without taking up runway time at crowded airports. The glass-floor idea is freaking me out a little though……
The manufacture includes a patent-pending new fabric that is weldable on both sides and the ML 866 is custom manufactured to your specification. They do not quote prices on the website, but I would imagine this is up there. As usual if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.
The “Manned Cloud,” was developed by The french National Aerospace Research body and designed by Jean Marie Massaud. It will apparently accommodate up to 40 passengers, includes a restaurant, library, fitness area, spa, and even a sun deck on top. Not exactly green, as it burns helium for fuel, if they ever build it I will be desperately trying to get a freebie. And for those of you old enough to remember Thunderbirds, it looks suspiciously like ThunderBird 2 and could more appropriately be named the “Flying Whale.”
Strato Cruiser Airship
Billed as a “lifestyle zeppelin,” the Strato Cruiser Airship will include a gourmet restaurant, a spa, a swimming pool and a resident DJ. The “Flying Palace” combines the luxury cruise experience with Richard Branson’s futuristic visions of space travel. The cruiser’s Sky Lounge will offer incredible views of the world’s most exciting landscapes and cities during its flight. If it ever gets off the ground (sic). Designed by Tino Schaedler and Michael J. Brown, this one will be aimed at super-wealthy only, although I understand it will have less range than the Cloud.
There definitely seems to be a trend towards airships and even some military interest for some of them. Not sure I would want to be floating around in a helium filled bag with people shooting at me, but there you go.
Links and resources: