BAE Systems has partnered with luxury transport design consultancy firm Design Q to develop an "Air Deck" viewing platform concept for BAE’s Avro Business Jet (ABJ). Aimed at jet setters that like heading off the beaten flight path, the Air Deck transforms the rear of the aircraft into an extended living space by way of an elevated outdoor viewing deck.

Adapted from the cargo side-door modification, an electrohydraulically powered side door opens to reveal a concealed platform that extends out from the rear of the aircraft and allows passengers to take in the evening air in secure surroundings. And since the ABJ aircraft are designed to access short and unpaved runways in remote locations, those surroundings won’t be limited to less than picturesque airport runways and hangars.

BAE Systems has contracted with Design Q to develop five concepts for the ABJ, with the Air Deck inclusive Explorer One and Explorer Four the first to be revealed.

Explorer One

The Explorer One includes a high-spec interior and is aimed at “high net worth individuals who want the freedom to travel and explore remote locations in a stylish and comfortable way.” It includes a fully equipped office workstation in the forward bulkhead and a large display cabinet on the opposite side of the aircraft. White marble stone is used on the floor of the entrance vestibule as well as the central table situated aft of the lounge in a crescent shaped alcove.

Explorer Four

If you're looking to take some friends along to split the bill then the Explorer Four might be a better bet. Aimed at the luxury charter market it can accommodate four couples or singles in their own private VIP cabins. Each cabin includes a sofa and chair combo that converts into a full-sized double bed, an entertainment system with a 17-inch HD monitor and a full-length wardrobe. There is also a crew rest area for the on-board service team located in the converted lower hold area.

At the unveiling of the concepts at the EBACE business aviation show in Geneva Gary Doy, Owner/Director of Design Q said: “These concepts challenge conventional thinking and blend the proven attributes of the ABJ with customer focused design solutions providing a unique lifestyle product. I believe these products will have enormous appeal to owners and operators who are looking for the ultimate luxury travel experience.”

There’s no indication of how much such luxury will cost if and when it becomes available. But if you have to ask, you probably can't afford it anyway.


In response to some of the user comments posted we were contacted by David Dorman of BAE Systems who emailed the following statement to clarify a few things.

"There is no way (as one suggested) that the large door and air deck would be deployed in flight.

Also your readers probably are unaware that the Large door is a fully approved major modification of the aircraft. We built 29 freighters off the production line in the mid -late 1980s with this door. All aircraft are still in service, most with TNT. We recently introduced a conversion programme for used aircraft to be converted to freighters as one of our five strategies to place used aircraft into different markets. Two aircraft are currently being converted for this freight role.

The large door is fully tested/certificated to operate on the ground in wind speeds of up to 40 knots.

Some of the aircraft that were built off the production line as freighters were designated as Quick Change this role they carried freight by night and by changing the palletised floor to take rows of palletised seating, they could be converted into passenger carrying aircraft by day. We therefore have full certification of the fitment of the large door and it being used in flight with passengers on board in a normal airline layout.

All we have done with the Explorer and Air Deck concept in reality is to blend the idea of an exiting freighter door design with an executive interior to come up with a unique product that is targeted at a specific niche for people or companies who might find the concept to their liking.

In terms of cost, this will depend of course on the level of interior specification chosen, but as a ballpark we reckon on around $16-18 million fully equipped. The actual cost of the basis aircraft is remarkably low because these are pre-owned aircraft, therefore with a lower price."

Thanks to David for clearing things up.

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