23 Oct New v Old Aircraft
When you decide to charter a private jet, it’s important that you have all the right information about the aircraft before you book a flight. Would you feel comfortable flying on an aircraft from the 70s or 80s?
When it comes to chartering a private jet, it’s very similar to buying a car. You check the aircraft can do the flight with no stops and is suitable for your journey; whether it’s a business meeting or a family trip. There is simple reasoning behind this misinterpretation: many would think an aircraft is just the same as a car. Is a car at it’s best when it’s just come straight from the factory?
You will check the age of the car, take a look around it yourself, check whether it’s been involved in an accident, has an up to date MOT, basically checking that everything is in working order before you purchase it.
The difference when you book a private jet, you don’t get to view the aircraft prior to booking it, so you really need a charter broker who knows and deals with the best operators that maintain their aircraft to the highest aviation safety standards.
Falcona are fortunate to be based at a private jet terminal where we are able to meet the crew of the aircraft and personally view the aircraft. Most charter brokers do not have access to aircraft, they will just view the aircraft from pictures online, which doesn’t always tell the whole story.
When chartering an older aircraft a thorough pre-charter check is essential. You have to be much more careful analysing the maintenance records with charter aircraft.
Whilst an aircraft’s cosmetics such as interior can be changed its pedigree and airframe cannot. Inspection and maintenance criteria are very strict in aviation. After all, engines and mechanics can be replaced. So can avionics. In the cabin, operators often replace carpet, seats, lighting, and other cosmetic features.
Older aircraft are far less efficient than newer models, and, at some point, replacing parts no longer makes financial sense for some operators. Newer aircraft are often quieter than older models, which many customers prefer.
So if you’re deciding whether to charter a newer or older aircraft, it’s really a matter preference. Some prefer new aircraft, others are not so fussy.
Is newer better than older? It’s not always the case, when it comes to private jet charter. We have clients who specify that they only want aircraft that are 5 years or younger, whereas some of our other clients do not mind a private jet manufactured from 2000 onwards.
Older aircraft generally have avionics that utilize older technology. These systems may not limit the aircraft’s operating ability, however, newer avionics provide pilots with enhanced situational awareness and allow them to make more informed flying decisions.
Aircraft such as the Falcon 7X Delivering 6,400 pounds of thrust each, three Pratt & Whitney Canada PW307A turbofans power the 7X to new levels of performance and efficiency. Quiet and so clean, they exceed stringent noise regulations and emission standards.
By incorporating this state-of-the-art technology and efficient engine design, they reduce CO2 emissions and lower aircraft operating costs by minimising fuel consumption.
Newer jets come complete with the latest in-flight connectivity available, allowing you to fly and work or play at the same time. If you’re travelling for business then an aircraft with high speed connectivity is essential, to conduct work en-route to meetings or events.
Business jet travellers need cabin management systems that allow them to stay productive and entertained while they are in the sky. Even during short flights, these travellers require fully digital cabin management solutions that maximizes in-flight comfort, entertainment and productivity.
Passengers can bring any device onboard and experience complete audio and video support. Older aircraft have no great technology onboard, so would be suited for Newer jets have the latest in-flight connectivity available, allowing you to fly and work or play at the same time. With an older jet you do not have that.
Some clients do not need the latest technology onboard, they just want to fly from A-B in the quickest and safest manner, with no frills. Qualified clients can see beyond the appeal of new paint and interior offering wi-fi.
Aircraft can claim to have had a paint job and refurbishment, the sales photos will reveal to you the colours and patterns used but they don’t reveal the quality of the materials used and any possible wear and tear.
Moreover the cabin may be configured in different ways. In terms of cabin “wow factor” and comfort, a brand new aircraft gives you a feeling that you are flying private. New developments in cabin systems and interior design mean private jets are getting more and more comfortable.
The aircraft interior is what sells, along with the cost. Prior to booking it’s essential that you check and know the date of manufacture of the aircraft and when it’s had a refurbishment, if it’s had one.
It’s not just smaller aircraft that can get refurbished, for instance a lot of older Bombardier Globals have a makeover as they were manufactured in the late 90s to 2004. They have cabin refurbishment that can cost up to 3 million.
A simple new upholstery, carpet, sidewall coverings-represents the lower end of the spectrum while all the latest and greatest satcom and in-flight entertainment options will push you toward the 3 million mark. Other popular add-ons include the latest in cabin-management system and LED lighting.
A older aircraft that has been refurbished to a high standard, for instance we regularly charter a Nextant 400XTi manufactured in 2004 but has had a full refurbishment in 2014; it looks great inside and enhances the aircraft. You wouldn’t know the difference if we told you.
With a new or refurbished cabin you will experience a more comfortable flight. Depending on your preference a brand new aircraft interior may be your choice rather than a older and slightly less expensive price.
The newest models come with advanced ergonomic seating, lower cabin altitude and enhanced on-board technology options.
Newer aircraft perform more efficiently than older ones. But performance is not all about safety, but more about range, speed and fuel-efficiency. So a newer version of most aircraft, will be able to fly a bit further and faster than the original.
The only significant difference between older and newer business aircraft has to do with advanced, quieter and more fuel-efficient engines.
Fuel-efficiency is another area where newer aircraft outperform their older counterparts, thanks to improved engine and wing design. And less fuel burn can mean lower costs. The Falcon 7X is the first business jet in the world equipped with a Digital Flight Control System.
Transferred directly from jet fighters, this technology gives more precise handling and reduces workload, thus improving safety. DFCS also mitigates the effects of turbulence for a quieter, smoother ride.
When it comes to landing, slower is safer. At typical landing weight, the approach speed of the 7X is only 104 knots (193 km/h). It can land and stop in just 2,070 feet (630 m). As a result, it can access hundreds of airports other jets cannot, including those with hot and high conditions, steep approaches and stringent noise restrictions.
We had a client who chartered a 2013 CJ2 for a family trip to Italy, then they decided to use another charter broker who for the return home who put them on a Citation I (1978 year of manufacture), which on arrival the client said “Oh we didn’t realise it would take so long, we may have just got Easyjet!”
The revolutionary Bombardier Vision flight deck makes flying the Global 6000 aircraft an exceptional experience. It has business aviation’s most advanced avionics suite, with ergonomics and aesthetics that provide pilots with outstanding comfort and control.
The unique combination of features such as the synthetic vision system on the head-up display and the MultiScan weather radar contribute to enhancing situational awareness at any time and in any weather. The industry leading flight deck reduces pilot workload for a safer, more efficient experience.
Double stitched leather, brushed metallic controls, and carbon fibre accents all contribute to a cockpit design that seamlessly blends with the rest of the cabin.
The Global 6000 aircraft is the largest business jet that can fly from Aspen to London City Airport non-stop thanks to its steep approach certification and formidable performance.
However operators with older aircraft can address this issue, with add-ons such as winglets, such as the Nextant 400XTi, which was derived from the Beechjet 400 & Hawker 400XP – that will improve the performance of older aircraft.
The Nextant 400XTi is essentially a Beechjet 400/Hawker 400A/XP with new Fadec-controlled 3,050-pound-thrust Williams International FJ44-3AP engines replacing the original Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D-5Rs, and new Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 flight deck, along with a fresh new interior and other enhancements.
Advanced technology such as wide sweep winglets make the greatest improvement in performance and range of an older aircraft. So upgrading an older business jet is often a very viable option for many operators on the charter market.
Maintenance & Safety
This an extremely important factor when chartering a private jet, the status of the aircraft and the quality of the records kept. Many people that travel assume that the older the aircraft, the less safe it is., but that’s not really the case. Remember, not all charter operators are equal.
Every aircraft available for charter flights is required by aviation law, to maintain an airworthiness certificate. To do this operators must inspect and maintain their aircraft periodically to standards set by the Civil Aviation Authority.
So long as the aircraft is within its remaining service life, you can assume your charter jet is as safe as one that just rolled off of the production line
The Wingman Standard Audit
Considered one of the most challenging industry standards to adhere to and one of the most reputable and recognised in the aviation industry.
Going above and beyond regulations, The Wingman Standard is a commercial best practice standard is defined and continuously refined by Aviation Subject Matter Experts and thought leaders knowledgeable in evolving safety and quality practices.
- Create trip due-diligence reports for every flight to meet your company’s
- Verification that an air charter operator holds a current Air Operating Certificate (AOC)
- Verification that the aircraft being chartered is listed on the air carrier’s Operations Specifications
- Confirmation of current insurance for the aircraft
- Confirmation that each crew member’s experience meets The Wingman Standard
- Confirmation that each crew member’s medical and license information is current
- Verification that an operator has passed an onsite Wingman audit and is Wingman Certified
There’s little difference in the reliability and cost of maintenance of older aircraft compared to newer models. The airframes of used business jets are built so well that if they’re maintained properly, they’ll pretty much last a lifetime.
In terms of safety there’s no difference between an older and a newer business jet. The key in any flight operation is that operators of aircraft maintain their aircraft to a high standard and the pilots highly skilled on their aircraft, whilst avoiding any complacency.
Older aircraft are generally available for charter at a lower cost than a newer aircraft. However this depends on several factors such as the type of aircraft, how old it is, how well it’s been maintained, the engine type and the avionics package.
Some charter clients base their whole booking an aircraft on cost, so it’s imperative that these clients know what they’re getting in return for a lower price. For instance a flight from Manchester to Faro, one way on a brand new Bombardier Learjet will cost approximately £15,000 where as if the flight was performed on an older Cessna Citation Bravo it would cost approximately £13,000.
So for a couple of thousands pounds extra you would get a new faster aircraft, with the latest in-flight technologies onboard, comfortable interior seats, more space, more luggage space and wi-fi just to name a few extras. It’s worth weighing up these factors when it comes to booking an aircraft.
Many of our clients tend to opt for the newer model of aircraft, whether it’s a business or leisure flight. For business flights it’s important that you can work en-route to meetings and have the ability to access amenities such as wi-fi. Travelling for leisure we tend to find that a lot of clients are more flexible on the age of the aircraft.
Price is more important to new clients who may be just testing the waters before they commit to more flights. We have also noticed that once they have upgraded to a newer aircraft, they tend to stay with them for any future flights.
There are no clear-cut answers. Planes are built to last. There is no concept of an ‘old aircraft’ in terms of aviation: it either flies or it doesn’t. An older aircraft is just as safe and reliable as a newer plane and need no more maintenance than newer jets. Brand new aircraft have teething problems and can go ‘tech’ at any time just like an older plane.
However we prefer to work with newer aircraft for our clients. The majority of our clients are based in Europe and the Middle East, who typically like to book the best and newest aircraft as a matter of personal preference. When we charter in the US for instance, the clients there are more willing to fly on older aircraft.
The choice is yours….