Grace and space at 30,000 feet
Multiflight’s new Boeing Business Jet 2 combines range, space and a bespoke interior like no other.
When David Hood set out to create the ultimate private jet, the last thing he wanted was a conventional cabin. So he turned to an unconventional designer. Andrew Winch, better known as a luxury yacht designer, brought fresh ideas to the project: his first private jet commission.
They met when Hood was considering a new yacht but things really clicked when conversation turned to the new plane. Hood, chairman of UK-based Multiflight, had already ordered a Boeing Business Jet 2 to replace his Falcon 900B. Space and range were key factors. Even with fuel for over 5000 miles, there’s room in the cabin for a bedroom and space in the hold for bicycles and windsurfers.
Their meeting began a year-long, $29m completion process that was every bit as original as it was expensive. Winch refused to be limited by preconceived ideas of what was possible on a plane. “Andrew didn’t know the difficulties of doing things differently,” Hood said. “This is a good thing and a bad thing. Lufthansa Technik [the completion company] where initially quite challenged by his ideas but they were excellent once they got started.” An early investment in a full-scale cabin mock-up helped smooth relations.
“I wanted it to have a constructed, architectural feel,” said Winch. “I didn’t want it to be Hollywood. I wanted it to be an English plane.” He has succeeded. It looks like a modern London members club with a nautical theme. With up to nineteen passengers and sleeping berths for fifteen, the biggest challenge was creating a space that could welcome so many and still retain its light and space. An arch divides the main cabin into two areas and also serves as an in-flight library. Each salon has its own personality. There are generous armchairs, clad in Connolly leather, sofas that curve gently to allow face to face conversation and two convivial dining tables. Good sight lines mean that flight attendants can see both sections from the galley without intruding unnecessarily.
The plane is filled with evidence of Winch’s obsessive attention to detail. There are no visible joins, screws or naked structure anywhere in the cabin. You know you’re in a plane – milled aluminium features and rib-like mullions deliberately remind you – but it feels as if it has been hand built by artisans, not Boeing. For example, rather than show an ugly join line in the shower room, he chamfered the top and sides of the limestone veneers. Similar thoroughness went into cutting cabin noise by 50 percent compared to airline 737s.
The in-flight entertainment system is probably the most advanced on any plane. To eliminate interference lines on the giant plasma screens, Lufthansa Technik developed a new digital video system. Portable touchscreen remote controls use wireless networking. Another first. Like virtually everything else on the plane, they were custom-built. Then there’s an Apple iPod for every passenger, each with its own docking station.
For the last year, Hood has kept G-OBBJ to himself, flying from the UK as far as New Zealand, Tonga and Easter Island. However, from this summer, the plane will be available for charter. Execjets, the operator, expect it’ll be just the thing for the next royal visit or Rolling Stones tour. The fact that the plane would suit either potential customer says a lot about its style and comfort. “I think it has understated elegance,” says Winch. “It takes a lot of work to make something this sophisticated that doesn’t look like it is just being clever.”
The plane is so obviously the realisation of a dream for its owner that it is hard to tell whether he enjoys flying in it more than he likes arriving. “When you are doing a flight you get quite comfortable, reading a book, watching a film. Actually, it is quite a nuisance when the flight ends.” For once the journey really is the destination.
– Matthew Stibbe
ExecJet, +44 1242 244088 , www.execjet.co.uk