BBT editor Paul Revel experiences a private jet flight to Jersey on London Executive Aviation's new Embraer Phenom 300
OK, so I had to turn right – but there were only seven cream leather seats to choose from, and anyway turning left would’ve put me in the pilot’s seat.
This was one hard day at the office I wasn’t going to complain about: the proofing flight for London Executive Aviation’s (LEA) latest aircraft, the Embraer Phenom 300. Before going into commercial service with LEA, it needed a test flight with an official from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to check and approve all operating procedures.
Fortunately, this also meant that LEA invited myself and three private jet brokers to a rather nice lunch in Jersey. Short notice, but in the line of duty I was able to clear my diary….
We meet at Luton’s private jet terminal, operated by Signature flight support. A world way from those long security and check-in queues, it’s a quick coffee in the comfortable little lounge, a meet and greet with the pilots, and minutes later we’re taking off.
Our host is LEA chief executive Patrick Margetson-Rushmore. He’s pleased with the latest addition to his fleet. "This Embraer Phenom 300 is rightly considered among the best in its class,” he says. “It can certainly compete with some of the jets in the mid-size category. It has excellent runway performance, and cruising speed and altitude is higher and faster than a scheduled airline." The plane has a 520mph cruising speed and 45,000ft cruising altitude. It’s maximum range is over 2,000 miles, so Moscow is in reach from London, a 3hr 30min journey.
The narrow but airy cabin is designed by BMW. It seats seven passengers in comfortable leather swivel seats, with a ‘club four’ arrangement in the centre – facing each other with large fold-out tables. A shutter behind the pilots reveals a small galley for serving snacks and hot and cold drinks. The plane has a satellite phone, and LEA plans to install wifi onboard.
The fog burns off, and by the time we reach the Channel Islands, we’re in the sunshine and enjoy glorious views of Alderney, Sark, Guernsey, and the approach into Jersey airport. A quick drive along beautiful St Aubin's bay, then it's time for a delicious lunch at La Capaninna in St Helier: fresh crab and Dover Sole washed down with Pouilly-Fuissé. By now my tweets are annoying my desk-bound colleagues back at BBT Towers, who use the social medium to tell me to shut up.
After a stroll around the pretty old town, and taking in views of the sweeping beach and 17th-century Elizabeth Castle on its tidal island, we head back to Beauport Aviation's private terminal – again not a queue in sight: we're onboard in a couple of minutes, with barely time to visit the terminal's black and chrome Art Deco-style lounge.
A feather-light touchdown in Luton 40 minutes later and I'm thinking: Eh, it'll be tough going back to business class after this....