How does one define the best in luxury private jets and yachts? They're all associated with luxury after all. However, there are many aspects which determine the level of extravagance of the aforementioned means of transport.
The designer plays a commanding role in the quality of the vehicle. Attention to detail and customization are important, adding a unique quality that makes the aircraft or yacht stand out. Cost, performance, and of course sheer mass (or, indeed, lack thereof) are also key aspects to consider.
Here, we take a look at three of the finest private jets and yachts available today.
After making its name in the commercial airline industry, Airbus branched out into the private jet market as well. The A318 Corporate Jet is a tried and tested model that typically holds eight passengers but can hold up to 19.
Airbus was the first provider to introduce fly-by-wire controls to a business jet, helping set a new industry standard, whilst side stick controllers offer increased flexibility. A range of 5,700km makes non-stop travel to long-range destinations a reality.
It’s not just the technical aspects of the aircraft that makes the A318 standout, though. Extra cabin space is always a plus and this model boasts around twice the width of a traditional business jet, leaving plenty of room for passengers to stretch out and relax.
Boeing Business Jets, also known simply as BBJ, have become absolutely integral to the private jet market. As with the Airbus A318, there is an argument that BBJs are closer to reinvented airliners than purpose-built business jets, yet the performance and experience is undeniable.
Based on the 737-800 series, Boeing’s classy jets take all the finest aspects of their traditional aircraft and customize them for a private market. Among the models specified to date are the original BBJ, the BBJ2, BBJ 3 (extending 1,120 sq. ft.), BBJ C and finally the BBJ Max which we explored in detail in January.
The exceptional success of the BBJ series, of which there are 176 currently in service, not only comes down to the established quality of the Boeing brand but also the flexibility of the jets.
1 - Gulfstream G650
It is no small claim when a company boasts that their jet is setting the “World Standard” and anyone claiming as much had better have a damn good product to back it up. Fortunately, Gulfstream is not all talk.
The Gulfstream G650 has become a benchmark in the world of private jets. Building on its formidable predecessors in the G500 and later Gulfstream G550, the G650 is the most complete business jet to date. Debuting a revamped wing design which changes how the vehicle combats resistance led to an increased speed of up to 0.925 Mach and the general technical aspects are simply unmatched. Writing in his article for flyingmag.com, Robert Goyer commented that when compared to its rivals “the G650 is just better. It’s faster, better equipped, more comfortable and longer-legged.”
We said that customization plays a significant role and the G650 certainly ticks that box; potential customers can select any of a dozen different floor designs to suit their taste. There is currently a 3-year waiting list for this elite private jet, giving us no reason to believe it will be knocked off being the world's number one luxury private jet any time soon.
3 – Al Said
As you may suspect with a superyacht owned by the Sultan Qaboos of Oman, access to the Al Said is somewhat more guarded, meaning information on the world’s most powerful superyacht is a little limited. What we do know is that it is the world’s highest displacement superyacht at 15,850 tonnes, the most powerful at 16,500 kW and that even at its full capacity of 70 guests there is scope for staff to outnumber passengers by more than 2:1.
No expense was spared in the design process. Strathclyde University graduate and revered designer Espen Oeino fashioned the yacht’s exterior whilst Redman Whiteley Dixon, responsible for some of the most beautiful yachts on the market, created the bespoke interiors.
2 – Eclipse
Billionaire oil tycoon Roman Abramovich may be best known for running the highly successful English football team Chelsea Football Club, yet his impressive portfolio certainly doesn’t end there. With a net worth estimated to be in excess of $10 billion, it is only right that the Russian billionaire enjoys the finer things in life, and the magnificent Eclipse yacht is surely one of the finest possessions money can buy.
Whereas private jets have appeal at both ends of the size spectrum, the size of a yacht is important when ranking them. The Eclipse is the second largest in the world, measuring a staggering 536ft. The cost of the yacht has been estimated at about $385 million. Unlike Sultan Qaboos, Abramovich is happy to show off his well-earned vessel; among the most incredible features are two helicopter pads, two swimming pools, multiple hot tubs, a movie theatre and even a mini-submarine.
1 – Azzam
Quite possibly the finest yacht in existence, the Azzam is a magnificent piece of yachting history. Engineer Mubarak Saad al Ahbabi was commissioned by UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan to recruit a team of industry leaders to assemble the largest private yacht in the world. Incredibly, the entire process was completed from concept to launch in four years.
Simply looking at the Azzam indicates just how unique the vessel is. With an abnormally shallow draft of just over 14ft, the shape and dimensions of the superyacht are unlike anything else on the market. Despite its record-breaking size, it is capable of traveling at over 32 knots, with the elegant interiors spearheaded by esteemed designer Christophe Leoni.
The Azzam is a truly magnificent spectacle in appearance, design, and execution.