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Airbus A319


Airbus began as a commercial airliner manufacturer, but, after years of experience and success, branched into the corporate ultra-long-range private jet sector with the Airbus A319 Corporate Jetliner (A319CJ).  It is a part of the A320 jet family, whose four members collectively have been used by more than twenty airlines, including Frontier Airlines and Air France.  The A319CJ is smaller and lighter than the commercial airliner version, giving owners global range capabilities.

The A319CJ is a slightly modified version of the A319, an airliner that had more than 130 seats.  The corporate version is usually configured to hold eighteen passengers, but exact interior configurations can vary greatly according to an individual’s preference.  The cabin is 78 feet long, 12.2 feet wide and 7.4 feet high, and has a total cabin volume of 5,900 cubic feet.  No other private jets have wider or higher cabins, although the Boeing Business Jet does outstrip the A319CJ in length.

The A319CJ was designed for heads of state and top corporate executives, so nothing in the cabin falls short in terms of luxury.  The cabin is generally divided into VIP quarters, complete with an office, bathroom and shower and bed; and a high-density passenger seating area.  The three zones of the private jet (cockpit, VIP area, and main seating area) have separate temperature controls to ensure that all individuals remain comfortable.

Since the A319 was originally used by the airlines, much of the interior design in the high-density section of the cabin is reminiscent of commercial airline travel – overhead storage bins, wall partitions, and entertainment screens mounted on the backs of seats.  The crossover in design saves a lot of weight and reduces acquisition cost.  In addition to the baggage storage inside the jet, such as the overhead bins, there is an external baggage compartment of 160 cubic feet.

When bought new, the A319CJ can be configured with either the International Aero Engines (IAE) V2527M-A5 turbofans or the CFM International CFM56-5B7/P turbofans.  The IAEs provide 27,000 pounds of thrust, but are 100 pounds heavier than the CFMI engines.  They burn fuel more economically and produce less noise.  The CFMI engines produce 26,500 pounds of thrust on takeoff and reportedly need repairs slightly more often than the IAEs, but are still well within the margins of airline engine quality and reliability.

Regardless of which engine is used, the capabilities of the A319CJ are impressive.  When configured with the CFMI engines and loaded to its maximum takeoff weight of 166,450 pounds, the A319CJ can take off in 6,170 feet from a sea level runway, or in 8,360 feet from a runway at an altitude of 5,000 feet.  It can climb to 37,000 feet in 23 minutes, and obtain optimum cruise performance between 39,000 and 41,000 feet.  Its long range cruise speed is 462 knots, and its high speed cruise is 469 knots.

One feature of the A319CJ has initiated a lot of discussion in the private jet industry: its fly by wire (FBW) flight controls.  In jets that are not FBW, all controls – from wing flaps to the landing gear – are controlled by a mechanical series of pulleys and cables.  This system is very reliable, but also very heavy.  The system has to be serviced frequently and all performance optimization is left to the pilot, which generally requires too many calculations for each maneuver than is practical in-flight.  The fly-by-wire system, in contrast, has actuators next to each control that is activated by an electronic signal from the cockpit.  The pilot still pulls levers and knobs in the cockpit, but instead of physically controlling the plane, his motions are translated into electronic signals which are then relayed to the actuators next to each flight control.

The major concern of using the fly-by-wire system is reliability.  Concerns are raised about an electronic failure which would render the plane uncontrollable.  Fortunately, reliability is the A319CJ’s strong point.  Each actuator can be controlled by several different switches, each of which is powered by several different power supplies.  Therefore, if one of the six power supplies fails, five more are available for use.  Only one power supply is needed to fly.  The chances of all six power supplies failing are so low that the fly-by-wire system used in the A319CJ is just as reliable as any mechanical flight control system.

The best part of the fly-by-wire flight control system is that it automatically adjusts every maneuver for optimal performance and fuel burn.  It also automatically limits maneuvers that would damage the private jet or cause a crash, such as overstressing the airframe or getting in a stall.  The FBW system reduces the A319CJ’s weight by hundreds of pounds.

Multiple backup systems are in place for practically every emergency.  There are six emergency exits as well as emergency oxygen systems.  The carbon/carbon brakes are designed to last for between 1,500 and 2,500 landings.  Total fuel capacity is 61,010 pounds, allowing for a maximum range of 4,800 miles (4,170 nautical miles).  Even when loaded to its maximum weights, it can complete nonstop flights of more than 3,600 miles – New York to Tokyo, for instance.

Another of the A319CJ’s strengths is its avionics system.  Six LCDs display flight information.  Operators have a choice of avionics configurations, and can choose a Flight Management System (FMS) from either Honeywell or Sextant.  They can also choose radio systems from Sextant Avionique, AlliedSignal, or Rockwell Collins.  The avionics suite is more than extensive enough to meet commercial airline standards and includes virtually every system’s awareness and communications equipment needed.

To summarize, the Airbus 319CJ is a private jet that offers absolutely everything a commercial jet can – reliability, range, speed, cabin space - and more.  For those that can manage an A319CJ, luxurious travel to any destination in the world is possible.