The latest mod con in luxury private jets? An open-air viewing platform, perfect for watching wildlife, engaging in full-contact Parcheesi, or simply lounging with a postprandial sherry while the aircraft is parked overnight. (You didn’t really think you could stand on it while the plane was in flight, did you?!)
Here’s how it works: While the aircraft is on the ground, a massive side door opens up and serves as an awning. The platform, hidden in the fuselage, extends out to create a balcony for the deluxe living space within the plane.
Two versions of the deck and interior are in the planning stage. The Explorer One concept (shown in the accompanying renderings) is designed for “high-net-worth individuals.” It accommodates a living area with white marble floors, fully equipped office workstation, dining vestibule, wet bar, and entertainment lounge with a curved sofa adjacent to the air deck. The Explorer Four is designed for luxury charter flights to remote locations for up to eight guests. Besides the air deck, this version has four VIP cabins with individual entertainment systems, sofa and chair combinations that convert to full-size double beds, and sleeping quarters for the crew, who will also act as tour guides.
The air deck and interiors were designed specifically for U.K.-based BAE Systems’ Avro Business Jet (ABJ) by Design Q, a London consultancy specializing in the luxury transportation sector. The innovation, which the companies say is an industry first, was unveiled this month at an aviation convention in Switzerland.
Don’t be concerned that you’ll be using your air deck on some noisy runway in, say, Leeds or Hannover. Far from it—literally. The ABJ is able to land on short, unpaved, distant airfields away from civilization. Think Amazon. Think Rajasthan. Several of Design Q’s renderings imply that the air deck will be of particular use on the African savanna, where in utter comfort you can watch at sunset as the zebras nibble on the grass beneath the spreading acacia trees. Ah, time for another sherry.
Mark Orwoll is the international editor at Travel + Leisure.