Dassault Aviation is finally catching up to its competitors.
The French aircraft manufacturer just unveiled the latest in its line of Falcon business jets, including its $75 million flagship, the Falcon 10X.
The largest and widest business aircraft that Dassault has ever produced, the Falcon 10X aims to be a long-range leader after the company fell behind competitors Bombardier and Gulfstream in the ultra-long-range category.
An aircraft intended to fly for more than 15 hours needs to be, at the very least, comfortable. At nine feet and one inch, the Falcon 10X’s cabin is the widest of any of the ultra-long-range business jets from Dassault, Gulfstream, and Bombardier.
Rival aircraft top out at eight feet and two inches, the width of the Gulfstream G700.
The Falcon 10X also boasts the tallest cabin among its competitors with a height of six feet and eight inches.
The cabin can be divided into four areas, each with unique touches. “Comfort and productivity” were guiding principles in designing the living areas, Carlos Brana, Dassault’s executive vice president for civil aviation, told Insider.
A staple on any wide-cabin private jet, the Falcon 10X also features a dining and conference area that can be used for meals or meetings.
Even the galley kitchen is used as a living area, with the crew rest area doubling as a seat. Unlike other private jets, two windows illuminate the kitchen with natural light and open the space that’s traditionally reserved as a work area for cabin attendants.
Aircraft owners can also opt for another seat in the bedroom to act as an office or a private setting for meals. “We created an apartment, a penthouse in the sky,” Agnès Gervais, Dassault’s head of industrial design, said.
Fresh, filtered air will also be flowing through the cabin. “Our goal is to make sure that when [passengers] exit the airplane, they are fresh, rested, relaxed, and they can go to the next stage of their trip,” Brana said.
Four high-definition displays give pilots information and are flanked by flight computers. Honeywell Aerospace also provided a lot of safety features including synthetic vision, airport moving maps, and a runway overrun awareness system.
Dassault was also able to use technology found on its Rafale fighter jet aircraft in the Falcon 10X.
Engine thrust is controlled by a single lever, despite the aircraft having two engines, just like on the Rafale
And pilots have heads-up displays that can help navigate through poor weather.
Side-stick controls have replaced standard control yokes, and the Falcon 10X also features digital fly-by-wire controls to improve safety. A button on each side of the cockpit can steady the plane in the event of unusual turbulence.
Both cockpit seats are also designed to lay fully flat to form a bed and eventually act as a crew rest area for one of the pilots.
That’s not allowed just yet as two pilots have to be flying at all times, but increased automation is leading to fewer pilots being needed in the cockpit in the future.
“Our objective is to drastically reduce workload while still be able to adapt to the challenges of air traffic control,” Philippe Duchateau, Dassault’s chief test pilot, said.
Powering the Falcon 10X are two Rolls-Royce Perl 10X engines producing more than 18,000 pounds of thrust each and offering a top speed of Mach .925.
It’s the first time that Dassault has called upon Rolls-Royce for Falcon jet aircraft engine. “We strongly believe that Rolls-Royce has the right competencies, the right technology in order to design this engine to be fitted for us,” Éric Trappier, Dassault’s chief executive officer, said.
Every city pair in the world is accessible with just one stop and non-stop city pairs include long flights like New York-Johannesburg, South Africa; Paris, France-Santiago, Chile; and Hong Kong-Atlanta, meaning fewer stops for travelers.
Vista Global on Thursday announced a deal to acquire private aviation firm Apollo Jets in the latest bid to grow its US market share.
The acquisition will give Vista around 4,000 Apollo Jets clients and a fleet of aircraft currently operated by Talon Air, an Apollo Jets company. Vista sees the opportunity to convert Apollo’s customers into XO members and subscribers, paying extra for better rates and perks like complimentary aircraft upgrades.
“The Apollo acquisition reinforces Vista Global’s unrivaled commitment to providing every business aviation client with the best value flying solutions around the world,” Thomas Flohr, Vista Global’s founder and chairman, said in a statement.
Growth by acquisition has been Dubai-based Vista Global’s primary means of expansion in the US, starting with the purchase of XOJET in 2018 and continuing with JetSmarter in 2019. The two companies were merged under the Vista umbrella to create XO, solidifying Vista Global as one of the largest private aviation firms in the country.
XO offers five types of membership that range from no charge to $1,000 per month. A free membership still allows customers to book on-demand private charters but charges a $395 per flight booking service while a paid membership waives that fee and includes dynamic pricing.
Apollo Jets, alternatively, does not operate on a membership-based model and the firm’s charter brokers often receive a commission on the flight they book for customers.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw new travel trends better suited to larger operators like XO. Current Apollo clients will benefit, for example, from XO’s fleet of “floating” aircraft, or planes that have no fixed base and can perform one-way flights for a fraction of the cost that traditional operators can offer.
Vista will now be able to offer aircraft management services through Talon Air. The Farmingdale, New York-based Part 135 carrier boasts heavy jets like the Gulfstream G550 and Challenger 604, as well as the largest fleet of super-midsize Beechcraft Hawker 4000 aircraft in the US, that XO clients will be able to book.
Vista expects the acquisition to be completed in the first quarter of 2021 and projects flight activity will grow by 20% following the deal. The completed deal will continue Vista’s track record of at least one acquisition per year since 2018, which shows no signs of slowing.
“I believe this is just the beginning of consolidation in our industry and Vista Global is leading this market transformation,” Flohr said.
Kelvin Mensah left his life in New York, where he’d worked retail and service jobs growing up, to move to Los Angeles in 2015. By 2019, Mensah had cofounded his own company, PJKev Approved LLC, and chartered more than 300 jets.
“My first time in LA, I remember going up to the hills and looking at all these mansions,” he told Insider. “That opened up my vision and mentality to how it’s possible to acquire these assets and build wealth for your family. I said, ‘If I could find a niche of close associates with a high-net-worth business, I could make a lot of money from a small percentage.'”
Mensah, 29, is now a luxury lifestyle specialist who arranges private flights for high-profile clients, like the Kardashians and soccer superstar Neymar Jr. By focusing on excellent customer service and fair prices, he’s established a client list of more than 300 people across industries like entertainment and sports.
It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for the aviation industry, but private aviation has become one of the 2020’s greatest success stories.
A promising start to 2020 quickly turned sour as fears of the novel coronavirus inflicted commercial flight cancellations across Asia, with the industry as a whole going off a cliff in March. Private aviation’s continued growth since the 2008 economic recession was halted overnight as there was simply no place to go during the pandemic’s peak.
A rush of wealthy flyers chartering emergency evacuation flights quickly turned into stagnation for many operators, with some firms temporarily closing up shop and furloughing workers. But its recovery began in earnest come May with more wealthy flyers taking to the skies as lockdowns ended across the US.
Florida, Georgia, Texas, and Colorado were among the most popular destinations early on as the wealthy wanted to social distance in peace and luxury. And aircraft manufacturers continued producing the latest and greatest private aircraft in preparation for when the world’s borders will once again be open for travel.
Here are some of private aviation’s highlights from 2020.
Vista Jet took delivery of its first Bombardier Global 7500
VistaJet became the first charter operator to acquire the Bombardier Global 7500 in 2020, offering travelers a new option for ultra-long-range travel. With a range of 7,700 nautical miles, the Global 7500 is the longest-ranged aircraft in its class, beating out any competitor from Gulfstream or Dassault Aviation.
Cities pairs like New York-Hong Kong, Moscow-Buenos Aires, and Los Angeles-Dubai are easily achievable under the right conditions. The jet even features a private bedroom complete with a full-size bed and owners can opt for a shower.
The Global 7500 is still one of the rarest private jets currently flying having debuted in December 2018. A sales firm was tasked with selling a brand-new model for $70 million from an owner who had purchased but no longer wanted the aircraft.
Airbus turns its controversial A220 into a private jet
Airbus unveiled the VIP version of its new A220 airliner, known as the Airbus Corporate Jet “TwoTwenty,” in October. European private aviation specialist Comlux was given the task of designing the interior.
Six orders have already been placed for the aircraft including two from Comlux, with operators looking to take advantage of the jet’s economics. Airbus says the plane can fly up to 5,650 nautical miles, enough to fly between Europe and the US West Coast. Comlux’s design includes an 18-seat cabin and a private bedroom with a king-size bed
XO embarks on a massive fleet refurbishment and expansion program
VistaGlobal-owned XO is upgrading its fleet of Cessna Citation X and Bombardier Challenger 300 aircraft with interior updates and new paint jobs. The larger Challenger 300s were painted in Vista’s red and silver, better aligning the look of the two companies’ aircraft.
Bringing on more planes also means hiring more pilots. Kevin Thomas, president and chief operating officer of XOJET Aviation, told Business Insider that 4,000 pilots have applied for his company as furloughs have crushed the airline industry.
Jet Linx purchased Teterboro, New Jersey’s Meridian Air Charter in a deal that solidified the former as the second-largest aircraft management firm in the Northeastern US. CEO Jamie Walker told Business Insider in an exclusive interview that he decided to move forward with the deal during the pandemic, even when the industry’s recovery wasn’t assured, based on his experience during the 2008 economic recession.
“We had made the determination that if there’s ever a better time to start a new location, it would be coming out of a recessionary period,” Walker told Business Insider about his firm’s 2009 expansion to Dallas, which shaped his thinking on expansion when the economy took another turn for the worse 11 years later. “So having done it once already, it was an easier decision to make this time around.”
The move gives the Omaha, Nebraska-based company a larger foothold in the New York area as Teterboro Airport is one of the busiest executive airports in the country thanks to its proximity to Manhattan. We also toured Jet Linx’s private terminal at Teterboro to see just how different the airport experience is for the wealthy.
Private aviation firms focus more on health and safety
One firm, Silver Air, created a “COVID cleared” program where every step of the journey from door to door would be verified clean to eliminate fears of contracting the virus. Flexjet also now flies its flight crews around on private aircraft to prevent them from flying on the airlines.
Dassault Aviation unveils its Falcon 6X
Dassault Aviation virtually unveiled its Falcon 6X private jet, the latest in a family of aircraft that dates back to the early days of the jet age, in December. The twin-engine jet is billed as an “ultra widebody” since it’s wider than most of the competitors in its class.
Its other cool features include oversized windows, a skylight, and a heads-up display in the cockpit that can see through the clouds. The $47 million jet can fly up to 5,500 nautical miles, enabling city pairs like Los Angeles-Moscow, New York-Tel Aviv, and London-Hong Kong. Deliveries are slated to being in 2022.
Flexjet takes delivery of its first Embraer Praetor 600
Flexjet took delivery of one of Embraer’s latest aircraft, the Praetor 600, in November to be used for its European division as part of a $1.4 billion order. Its nine-passenger cabin comes with a mix of club seats and a divan, as well as an enclosed lavatory.
The jet’s impressive performance makes it a veritable jack of all trades, able to access Europe’s notoriously challenging airports like London’s City Airport and Switzerland’s Engadin Airport, as well as fly non-stop between Paris and New York.
Aerion breaks ground on its Melbourne, Florida campus
Supersonic jets will soon be built in Melbourne, Florida as Aerion is one of the frontrunners in the race to build a modern-age supersonic jet, opting first to create a business jet that can fly at speeds of Mach 1.4. The startup recently chose Melbourne International Airport in Florida to be the home of its new $300 million headquarters and production campus.
Melbourne is located on Florida’s Space Coast – soon to be the Supersonic Coast – just a few miles from NASA’s Cape Canaveral. Aerion CEO Tom Vice told Business Insider that the campus will be eco-friendly by reusing collected rainwater and providing electric vehicle charging stations for employees.
The first aircraft will fly in five years, Vice said, and will sell for $120 million.
Otto Aviation unveils a new private aircraft concept set to revolutionize the industry
A startup shocked the industry when it unveiled the Celera 500L, a plane that can fly 4,500 nautical miles at speeds of 450 miles per hour with costs lower than even the smallest private jet. Otto Aviation is seeking to make private aviation more affordable and environmentally friendly, and its oval-shaped aircraft is set to do just that.
An hour of flight time only costs $328, a fraction of what it costs to fly the Cirrus Vision Jet, and it can easily cross oceans with its intercontinental range while only burning 18 to 25 gallons of fuel for every mile it flies. At least 31 flights have been successfully flown with the Celera 500L and it’s scheduled for certification in 2023.
Bombardier delivers the first Global 5500 and Learjet 75 Liberty to a customer
While also building new models like the Global 7500, Bombardier also looked back at its existing models to see where improvements could be made. One such result was the Global 5500, the updated version of the Global 5000, which Bombardier first delivered in June.
Bombardier also delivered its first Learjet 75 Liberty, an improved version of the Learjet 75 that includes an executive office and near-cross country range, in October. The Learjet name has been a staple in private aviation for decades, flying the likes of Frank Sinatra and James Brown.
An aircraft sales firm began accepting bitcoin for its planes
Sometimes cash isn’t always king. Sales firm Aviatrade began accepting cryptocurrency like bitcoin for its multi-million aircraft in 2020 to give buyers more options when making a purchase. Accepting cryptocurrency allows international buyers to make major purchases without being subject to restrictions.
A flying cruise ship joined the COVID-19 airlift by transporting personal protective equipment from China
The early days of the pandemic revealed a shortage of personal protective equipment in the US as healthcare workers struggled to keep up with the influx of new coronavirus patients in hospitals. A perfect storm of high demand and fewer passenger flights meant that getting more from China was more expensive and private aircraft operators saw an opportunity to get their planes back in the air.
One of the aircraft that participated was a Boeing 777-200 named CrystalSkye that acted as a flying cruise ship before the pandemic under the Crystal Cruises brand and later became a VIP aircraft available for charter. The massive cabin is ideal for heads of states and the wealthiest of travelers as it includes butler service, a bar, a full dining area, and 88 lie-flat seats.
Aircraft manufacturers teamed up with the auto industry for some expensive collaborations
Embraer and Porsche teamed up in 2020 and unveiled their private jet and supercar pairing in November. Dubbed “Duet,” the pair includes a matching Embraer Phenom 300E and Porsche 911 Turbo S with a sticker price of $11 million that also includes a Porsche Design 1919 Globetimer UTC watch and luggage set.
Comlux unveiled its Boeing 767 private jet with air that it says kills coronavirus
Comlux specializes in airliners-turned-private jets and one of its flagship aircraft is a VIP Boeing 767-200 named SkyLady. The aircraft recently underwent a cabin upgrade during the pandemic to include a private apartment within the plane, a first class cabin, and a premium economy cabin.
Just like CrystalSkye, which Comlux also operates for Crystal Cruises, this plane is meant for the upper echelons of society. One of the hidden upgrades that may be the aircraft’s new best selling point, however, is an ionization system that Comlux says kills the novel coronavirus.
Passengers onboard don’t need to wear a mask while on board as a result.
Leisure customers dominated in the industry and became the backbone for its recovery
Business travelers have been largely grounded since March as companies are shifting to virtual meetings to avoid sending their employees out on the road where they could possibly be exposed to COVID-19. The loss of the segment hindered private aviation’s recovery until another stepped up and took the skies in massive numbers, leisure travelers.
A surge of travelers over the summer continued into fall and has been propping up the industry while business travelers stay home. Firms began shifting their efforts towards leisure flying even more after a McKinsey and Company study found that only 90% of ultra-high-net-worth individuals don’t fly private, revealing an untapped market.
Expansion was widespread in the industry with XO looking to bring on more planes and pilots, Directional Aviation speeding up the launch of FXAIR, Jet Linx acquiring Meridian Air Charter, and Jet Edge International growing its point-to-point fleet of Bombardier Challengers.