Transforming the A330 into a luxurious yacht-like experience

Editor’s Note – The Monthly Pass is a CNN tour series that highlights some of the most fascinating topics in the world of travel. In June, we take to the skies to take a look at the latest developments in aircraft interiors, including the people working to change the way we fly.

(CNN) – The fact that the wealthy go to great lengths to customize their private jets to fit their lifestyles is nothing new.

And we’re not just talking about the average business jet. For decades, world leaders, kings and billionaires have been equipping the types of aircraft most of us use commercially, made by companies like Airbus and Boeing.

But the options on the table are becoming increasingly unruly.

Among the leaders in the personalization game is German company Lufthansa Technik, which recently developed a cabin concept inspired by another must-have item for the super-rich – the luxury yacht.

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

Just like a luxury yacht.

The Lufthansa Technik team selected the Airbus A330 to demonstrate the concept and released a series of demos demonstrating the possibilities.

These include the usual necessities such as bedrooms, bathrooms, bars and dining areas. But arguably the most remarkable thing is the retractable veranda – a floor in the forward fuselage area that can extend outward when the aircraft is parked, about four meters above the apron.

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

Brabus Adventure Lounge

Brabus Adventure Lounge: a place to store toys.

Cutesy Lufthansa Technik AG

The EXPLORER concept was first launched in November 2021, and the company recently presented a new addition at an aviation conference in Geneva in May – the BRABUS Adventure Lounge.

The concept places the lounge at the aft of the A330’s lower deck, which is visible from the main deck through a glass floor.

Once again, the luxury yacht, with its bidding and gaming garage, was the inspiration. A selection of vehicles can be stored in the Adventure Lounge for use after landing.

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

Welland Tim, head of sales for Lufthansa Technik’s VIP and special mission jets, told CNN Travel by email that the lounge displays only “one glaring example of what this aspect of exploration can look like” during a flight.

“The luxury motorbikes are organized exclusively in the accessible basement,” he explains. “Once it lands, it can be unloaded and give passengers the freedom to explore the current destination in more detail.”

As for why Lufthansa Technik chose the A330 for the EXPLORER concept, Timm says this classic wide-body aircraft “provides enough space for a large number of new cabin ideas and also enough range to satisfy the particular desires of the EXPLORER’s target group.”

However, he notes that an Explorer-type cabin can also be fitted to other wide-body aircraft such as the Boeing 777.

Who is interested?

Tim says that the target group for the EXPLORER concept consists of “classic” affluent individuals who travel and explore the world in the utmost luxury and – most of all – privacy, but also charter aircraft operators of this high class luxury travel (offering, for example, flights around world for 14 days at $100,000 to $200,000 per week). ”

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

“For example, a wealthy person owns an Explorer, but only uses it for one month a year. For the rest of the year, that individual will also lease it to other operators/users.”

Artist rendering of the balcony.

Artist rendering of the balcony.

Cutesy Lufthansa Technik AG

So far, the response has been very positive, he says, noting that they already have inquiries from customers who are looking to implement one or more of EXPLORER’s technical tools on existing or future cabin completion projects.

He noted that the entire concept is unlikely to be taken up by the aircraft owner, but because it is technically feasible, the cabin can be produced as shown. Instead, customers are more likely to adapt certain design elements to their own needs.

“The simple reason is that VIP Completeions’ business, particularly for wide-body aircraft, is highly individualized to suit the owner’s personal needs…so the vast majority of aircraft we complete for our clients are truly unique.”

How close is it to that luxury yachting experience?

Since luxury yachts have more freedom in terms of anchoring and moving around, we asked Tim how common it is for owners to stay overnight on their plane while on the ground at the airport.

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

“Some of our customers are already using this,” he adds. “The reasons are different and have to do with the fact that these clients often use aircraft as their office and therefore receive their clients on site.

“Others prefer to stay on board overnight for security reasons. However, if using the described EXPLORER, the airport serves as a home base and a springboard for further adventures/explorations.”

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