<b>Gizmo Geek:</b> House in the clouds
US-based Kestrel Aviation is customising a Boeing Dreamliner into a luxury apartment that can also fly and is available for the discerning and paying ultra-high-fliers
When you hear the term ‘second home’, you don’t necessarily think of a place up in the clouds. Though that’s exactly what Kestrel Aviation had in mind—and not in the metaphorical sense—when they decided to convert a Boeing Dreamliner into a luxury apartment that just happens to be able to fly, available for customisation for the discerning
and paying ultra-high-end customers.
First, some perspective. The Boeing 787-8 is 18 feet wide and 138 feet long, and can ordinarily carry between 240 and 330 passengers if operated as a commercial flight. Under Boeing’s Business Jet Programme (BBJ), a variety of their aircraft have been available to private buyers or governments, including the Dreamliner jumbo jet in question. On the instructions of a private buyer, an unnamed business executive, Kestrel Aviation, a US-based aviation services company, in 2014 set about the task of converting its 2,400 square feet interior into a luxury apartment with the help of the Paris-based Pierrejean Design studio.
Stephen Vella, CEO of Kestrel Aviation, says of the aircraft, “You can live on it while you travel.” Nohl Martin, vice-president of communications and business development, is less restrained when he calls it a “flying masterpiece”.
The main lounge of the customised aircraft features a raised ceiling for increased headroom, specially-framed 18x10-inch windows and the absence of any partitions to give it a roomy feel. Facing the front are twin sofas that can slide out into a bed, positioned before a 55-inch screen. On other side are four individual seats with pop-out tables that double up as workstations. The rear section of the lounge has two couches and two coffee tables that work as a dining or meeting area, or as sleeping spaces. A VIP bathroom is built just off the lounge, featuring a large marble vanity and a wardrobe just outside. The blackout window shades, lighting and entertainment controls, and flight attendant calls can be controlled via tablets located around the cabin.
The pièce de résistance of the interior is the master bedroom designed to be an ‘oasis of silence’, with soundproofing to isolate it from engine noises and ambient sounds from the lounge area. The 13-foot bedroom, with an extra dressing area, features a California king-sized bed, with headboard shelves equipped with electric candles, a 42-inch TV, refrigerator and freezer. The dressing area comprises walk-in closets, a separate shoe cupboard, a hidden safe and drawers ‘that will hold two weeks’ worth of clothing’. The master bathroom has dual sinks, a heated marble floor and a double-sized shower.
Eighteen first-class sleeper seats, plus six premium economy seats for staff, three more bathrooms, a foyer designed to look like a series of waves, with wood-veneer flooring, leather-accented bulkheads and accent lighting round up the rest.
Capable of flying more than 14,000 km and up to 17 hours non-stop, this luxury Dreamliner-apartment is equipped to accommodate about 40 people. It is expected to ferry ultra-high-end charter customers, though you are free to order a custom-made one for personal use, should you have about $300 million and some spare change lying about.
Payal Dhar