Turning an A330 into a luxury yacht

Editor’s note. The Monthly Pass is CNN’s travel series that highlights some of the most interesting topics in the travel world. In June, we’ll take to the skies to see the latest developments in aircraft interiors, including the people working to change the way we fly.

(CNN) – The fact that the mega-rich go to great lengths to tailor their private jets to their lifestyle is not new.

And we’re not just talking about your usual business jet. For decades, world leaders, royalty, and billionaires have outfitted the types of aircraft that most of us fly commercially, such as Airbus and Boeing.

But the options on the table are getting wilder.

One of the leaders in customization is the German company Lufthansa Technik, which recently developed a cabin concept inspired by another must-have item for the rich: a superyacht.

According to the company, the concept of EXPLORER’s wide-body VIP cabin fulfills two desires of aircraft owners: to fly their aircraft almost anywhere at any time, and to serve as a base camp while traveling – a place to sleep and rest. activities and excursions.

Just like a superyacht.

The Lufthansa Technik team selected the Airbus A330 as a concept showcase and released a series of renderings showing the capabilities.

These include the usual must-haves such as bedrooms, bathrooms, bars and dining areas. But the highlight, perhaps, is the retractable porch – a floor in the forward fuselage that can be pulled out when the plane is parked, at a height of about four meters above the apron.

In second place is a large-scale integrated projection system for virtual content. It extends from the window sash to the ceiling. Customers can choose their own lighting and images, using a high-tech projection system to create scenes such as green forests and starry skies.

BRABUS Adventure Hall

BRABUS Adventure Lounge: storage space for toys.

Coatsy Lufthansa Technik AG

The EXPLORER concept was first launched in November 2021 and the company recently unveiled a new addition at the Geneva Aviation Conference in May, the BRABUS Adventure Lounge.

The concept places the saloon at the rear of the A330’s lower deck, which can be seen from the main deck through a glass floor.

Once again, a superyacht with a garage for tenders and toys provided inspiration. A selection of vehicles can be stored in the Adventure Hall for use after landing.

The concept is a limited edition BRABUS 1300 R created in collaboration with Austrian motorcycle manufacturer KTM.

Wieland Timm, head of VIP and special-purpose aircraft sales at Lufthansa Technik, told CNN Travel in an email that the cabin shows just “one prime example of what this exploratory aspect” can look like in flight.

“Luxury motorcycles are placed exclusively on the accessible lower deck,” he explains. “After landing, they can be unloaded and give passengers the opportunity to explore their current destination in more detail.”

As to why Lufthansa Technik chose the A330 for the EXPLORER concept, Timm says this classic wide-body aircraft “offers enough space for a lot of new cabin ideas, as well as enough range to satisfy the special wishes of the EXPLORER target group.”

However, he notes that the EXPLORER-type interior could be fitted to other wide-body aircraft such as the Boeing 777.

Who is showing interest?

Timm says that the target group for the EXPLORER concept consists of “rather ‘classic'” super-rich people traveling and exploring the world in the utmost luxury and, above all, privacy, as well as charter operators of such high-end luxury travel (offering, for example, 14-day round-the-world travel in the price range of $100,000 to $200,000 a week).”

He says they also expect some owners to take a hybrid approach.

“For example, a wealthy person who owns an EXPLORER aircraft but only uses it one month a year. During the rest of the year, this person will also rent it out to other operators/users.”

Artistic visualization of the terrace.

Artistic visualization of the terrace.

Coatsy Lufthansa Technik AG

So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, he says, noting that they have already had requests from customers looking to incorporate one or more EXPLORER tech gadgets into their current or future cab customization projects.

He notes that it is unlikely that the owner of the aircraft will accept the entire concept as a whole, but given the technical feasibility, the cockpit can be made as shown in the picture. Instead, clients are more likely to tailor certain design elements to suit their needs.

“The simple reason is that the VIP kit business, especially for wide-body aircraft, is very customized to fit the personal needs of the owner… So the vast majority of the aircraft we kit for our customers are truly one-of-a-kind.”

How close is this to a superyacht experience?

Given that superyachts have much more freedom in terms of anchoring and mobility, we asked Timm how often owners stay overnight in their aircraft while it is on the ground at the airport.

He says various airports will allow them to park their planes and actually “live” there for a certain amount of time.

“Some of our clients are already using it,” he adds. “The reasons are different, and they are due to the fact that these clients often also use the aircraft as their office space and thus receive their clients on the spot.

“Others prefer to stay on the plane overnight for security reasons. However, in the EXPLORER use case described, the airport acts as a home base and starting point for further adventures/explorations.”

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