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VVIP Aircraft

As our name suggests, we are all about aircraft. It's where we began 27 years ago, it represents 90% of our project history - and it's absolutely "where we live"! However, we have practiced across other disciplines, including Private Motor Yachts, Land-based Residential projects and even a palace. All such projects were outgrowths of our aircraft projects in cases where our customer asked us to get involved. It's always a high compliment when a customer is so happy with their aircraft, that they request our help on another of their properties - and we're always delighted to accommodate them!

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RRAD has been involved in a number of wide-body programs, including B767-300, B787-9, even a B747-SP for former UAE President Shaik Zyaed Bin, way back in the day. Yet the one aircraft any design studio would salivate over is the beautiful and venerable B747-8. And in 2009, we were lucky enough to get that opportunity. We were contracted by former Associated Air Center (Dallas) on behalf of the Republic of Kuwait to design the interior cabins of a newly ordered 747-8 from Boeing. The new VVIP aircraft was set to replace an existing 747-400, as the new flagship of its fleet - and would be used primarily for the Emir, his wife and other senior members of the royal family. It was a mammoth undertaking both for our studio and AAC, who at the time, had only limited experience with wide-body aircraft. We designed the full aircraft's array of mixed-use VVIP and Entourage cabins - and was supported by AAC's internal design staff on softgoods and technical aspects of the design.

The entire project, from initial design to fly-away, was completed in just under two years, which was an impressive showing by AAC's team. Nonetheless, the project was not without it's hiccups in the beginning. The original design brief given by the customer turned out to be a mischaracterization of the Emir's desires. The debacle cost two months time but was eventually ironed out - and the second presentation was accepted almost immediately setting a fast-track to PDR and CDR. And the rest, as they say, is history. The project carried the anticipated challenges of such complex completion - but all in all was a fairly smooth ride resulting in a very happy customer.  

This commanding VVIP aircraft remains the flagship of the Kuwaiti governmental fleet - and still serves as the primary Head of State aircraft for the Republic, the Emir and his family.   

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Back in 1999, only a year on from the formal launch of our studio, we were contracted to design our first BBJ and in fact one of the first BBJ's built (Hull # 004). Our client was one Thomas T. Bachmann - Chairman of ORBITEX Finance based in Zurich. Eventually dubbed the ORBIT project, it was and remains an amazing first experience with the BBJ. It was an exciting time both for our client and our studio. Bachmann wanted something really special and the collaboration between us was not only stimulating but fun. By the time the conceptual design was solidified, the completion center, former Ozark Aircraft Systems (based in NW Arkansas) was selected and brought under contract. As the images below convey, it was a complex interior and OAS although newly formed and somewhat inexperienced, were committed and eager to produce an amazing interior. The completion took almost 21 months and was marked by overruns and challenges - but at the end of the day, the aircraft was a stunning achievement, by far the most sophisticated BBJ of its day.

Is it dated by today's standards? Yeas of course. But in 2000, when she was completed, the ORBIT BBJ was considered the most sophisticated BBJ flying. Beautifully designed (if we do say so) and carefully detailed, it was widely recognized as a very high standard for what could be achieved in a BBJ. Infused were subtle Art Deco influences, modern overhead architecture, rich dyed Bubinga wood veneers and European softgoods.

24 years later, the project remains a proud achievement and fond memory for our studio - not to mention a moment in our history where only such a complex project could garner such huge early experince for our studio.  

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