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Best of the Best 2002: Aircraft: Best Business Jets

Fluto Shinzawa

Public Servants’ Servant

The Italian government owns two Airbus Corporate Jetliners, and Venezuelan lawmakers recently ordered an ACJ. In February, France joined the government-owned ACJ club, taking delivery of the business jet so that it could conveniently transport government officials to international meetings.

The French-made twin-engine ACJ, modeled after the Airbus A319 commercial jet, cruises at 41,000 feet and has a range of 6,200 miles. The 78-foot cabin is almost the same length as the one in a Boeing Business Jet, and the ACJ’s interior has height and width measurements similar to its American competitor.

The French Air Force ACJ seats 50 passengers, but the interior can be rearranged to fly as few as eight passengers, increasing the comfort level for each traveler.

Airbus offers six different interior layouts, which can include a private suite with a full-sized shower, a business center, and a lounge, complete with office equipment and entertainment systems.

The French Air Force will take delivery of another ACJ later this year. It’s a patriotic purchase—Airbus is based in Toulouse, France—but considering the plane’s performance, it’s a smart one as well.  

Airbus, www.corporate-jetliner.com

Record Pace

When Bryan Moss stepped onto his Gulfstream V in March, he didn’t realize that he would be making history. Moss, vice chairman of Gulfstream, left Tokyo’s Narita Airport at noon, destined for a National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) meeting in Washington, D.C.

Eleven hours and 54 minutes later—or two hours and six minutes before the plane left Tokyo, counting the 14-hour time difference—the G-V touched down at Dulles International Airport, breaking a 44-year-old speed record. The G-V, piloted by Robert McKenney, cruised at 49,000 feet and traveled 6,739 miles at an average speed of 566 mph.

In 1958, U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. William Eubank Jr. flew a Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker on a similar route, averaging 492.26 mph on the 13-hour, 46-minute flight.

“The most significant factor for me on this flight was that I was able to arrive refreshed and on time for a meeting at the NBAA,” says Moss, “which I would have been unable to attend had I taken a commercial flight. I completed my business in Asia, flew back to the United States, and attended the meeting in Washington without any delays or setbacks.”  

Moss isn’t the only Gulfstream flier who appreciates the G-V’s speed. In 2000, the Apple Computer board awarded a G-V to Steve Jobs, the company’s CEO. We presume Jobs wants his planes—like his Internet connection—to be as fast as possible.

Gulfstream, 912.965.3000, www.gulfstream.com

Atlantic Dream

It was planned as a fast and pleasant ride, but the weather wasn’t cooperating. Late last spring, a Bombardier Global Express waited on the runway at Westchester County Airport in White Plains, N.Y., grounded by a thick fog that threatened to delay its arrival in Le Bourget, France.  

But at 8:53 am, 53 minutes after the scheduled departure, the Global Express took off—fast. Six hours, two minutes, and 50 seconds later, the jet touched down in France, claiming a new speed record. Cruising at 43,000 feet, the plane had traveled 3,600 miles at an average speed of 595 mph.  

As the Global Express raced toward France, its passengers enjoyed the music of Cole Porter, sipped a California chardonnay, and dined on mozzarella and asparagus omelets, smoked salmon, and berries, before enjoying the ultimate luxury: arriving on schedule.

Bombardier, 514.861.9481, www.bombardier.com

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