Airbus Corporate Jets
Headquarters: Toulouse (France)
Head of company: Fabrice Brégier
Better known for building large aircraft used by commercial airlines, Airbus SAS first established itself as a business jet manufacturer in 1997, with the formation of Airbus Executive and Private Aviation. As the largest subsidiary of EADS, the French company is still first and foremost a manufacturer of commercial aircraft. Aside from the aircraft it produces for military and freights purposes, it deals only with large airliners, but all of these can be converted into corporate or VIP versions – even the double-decker A380, which can hold up to 555 passengers.
Airbus has two main manufacturing sites, one at Toulouse, France and the other in Hamburg, Germany. All Airbus aircraft are built at Toulouse, but some (usually the A321s) are flown to Hamburg for finishing. Airbus is now beginning to build large military turboprop transports (A400M), but this will be a very small part of their overall aircraft manufacturing.
The most popular business jets built by Airbus are corporate ACJ318s, ACJ319s, ACJ320s and ACJ321s. These versions typically seat between 15 and 50 passengers – compared to airline versions which can carry over 200 passengers. Like Boeing Business Jets, Airbus Corporate Jets are often used by heads-of-state, governments and corporate clients, and because over 300 airlines operate Airbus aircraft, it is easy to find maintenance.
Airbus officially launched the next generation of the A320 family of aircraft on December 1st 2010. Dubbed the ‘neo’ family, Airbus had been working on enhancing the family since early 2006. As well as including newer, greener and more powerful engines (the neo stands for new engine option), the neo family of aircraft also includes new curved winglets that Airbus has dubbed ‘sharklets’.
Beechcraft Corporation (formerly Hawker Beechcraft)
Headquarters: Wichita, Kansas (US)
Head of company: Bill Boisture
Although stories of Hawker Beechcraft’s financial troubles dominated the agenda between 2012-2013, the company has been producing much-loved aircraft since it was founded by Walter H. and Olive Ann Beech in 1932. Trading under the name of Beech Aircraft Corporation, the company’s first move was to introduce the world to the Model 17 – otherwise known as the Beechcraft Staggerwing – which captured the imaginations of business travellers and air racers in equal measure.
In 1980, Beech became a subsidiary of aerospace and defence company Raytheon, before acquiring British Aerospace Corporate Jets and its popular line of mid-sized Hawker jets in 1993. The following year, a merger then saw Beech Aircraft join with the renamed Raytheon Corporate Jets to form Raytheon Aircraft.
Business continued to boom for over a decade, before Onex and GS Capital Partners took over Raytheon Aircraft in March 2007 and renamed the company as the Hawker Beechcraft Corporation. As Hawker struggled to pay the interest on the debt that was used to fund the purchase, the company announced it had entered into Chapter 11 protection in May 2012.