This luxurious Boeing 777 private jet normally costs $50,000 per hour but is flying medical cargo in the COVID-19 airlift. Take a look inside Crystal Cruises' flying palace.
- Luxury cruising company Crystal Cruises is offering its VIP Boeing 777-200LR private jet for COVID-19-related cargo charters.
- The 88-seat wide-body private jet typically flies wealthy passengers around the world on private charters and air cruise itineraries with some journeys reported to cost over $150,000.
- The converted airliner can fly up to 17 hours flying cargo-only flights with Crystal Cruises joining the scores of aerospace companies offering aircraft for medical supply cargo missions.
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New aircraft are joining the airlift to transport medical supplies with each passing day as air cargo remains the quickest method of delivery for necessary cargo. Aircraft from Boeing, Airbus, Dassault, Antonov, as well as passenger jets solely flying cargo and even the New England Patriots' team jet, have supplemented existing freight and transportation networks around the world.
Luxury cruise company Crystal Cruises became the latest to join in the effort, offering its flagship Boeing 777-200LR VIP jet for cargo charters and flying its first mission on Monday. Departing from its initial mission of offering air cruises and private charters once the demand for travel vanished in early March, the focus of the wide-body jet will now be on its belly cargo hold instead of the ultra-luxurious cabin above.
Crystal Skye, as the twin-engine luxury liner is called, can carry nearly 50 tonnes of cargo with a range of over 16 hours depending on the load, Vice President & Managing Director Richard Ziskind told Business Insider in an email. The low-density interior of the aircraft allows for additional cargo to be stored in the holds below.
The company's first mission saw its flagship fly over 8,000 miles from Fort Myers, Florida to Shanghai, China into nearly the heart of the epidemic.
Take a look at how the 88-seat private jet aimed at catering to the world's elite is now helping fight a pandemic.
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While Crystal Cruises is known primarily for its seafaring vessels...
The company also has an air cruise division, transporting customers from destination to destination in a luxurious private jet above the clouds and quicker than a cruise ship can.
Crystal AirCruises, as the division was branded, started in 2016 with a 12-seat Bombardier Global Express XRS, a leader in the large-cabin private jet market.
The next year, Crystal unveiled the next member of the fleet, a Boeing 777-200LR.
The 777 is Boeing's best-selling wide-body jet, primarily utilized by airlines and cargo carriers thanks to its spacious interior and long-range capabilities.
Crystal fitted the 16-row passenger cabin with 88 business class-style seats for its VIP guests.
Each seat offers personal amenities including in-seat power and 24-inch high-definition in-flight entertainment screens at each seat.
The premium cabin seats also offer 180 degrees of recline for a fully lie-flat bed, ideal for the long-haul flights that the VIP Triple-Seven is capable of.
Ahead of the passenger cabin is the social lounge complete with tables, counters, and couches.
The communal space acts as a retreat from the main seating section the passengers call home during their airborne journey, aided with a fully-stocked bar and staffed with a fleet of butlers.
Passengers can also choose to take their meals in the social lounge that can be converted into a luxurious dining area...
Or at their seats.
WiFi is also available for those looking to stay connected on their air cruise.
A jet of this size complete with a full staff would typically cost around $50,000 per hour to charter and air cruises typically went for $159,000 per person.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and leisure travel came to a screeching halt, however, Crystal found that the demand for its jet was not in the luxurious cabin above but in the cargo hold below.
It's the section of the aircraft largely hidden from passenger view but is the amenity proving to be of greater use and value as the pandemic rages on, Ziskind told Business Insider in an email.
When fully loaded with 48 tonnes or 105,000 pounds of cargo, the aircraft can fly for 12.5 hours. To achieve the maximum flight time of 16.5 hours, only eight tons or 17,600 pounds can be loaded, Crystal Cruises told Business Insider.
The company boasts that Crystal Skye has of the longest ranges of any passenger jet flying cargo in its belly, largely due to the VIP configuration of the aircraft...
And its two General Electric GE90 engines.
The 12.5 hour flight time fully loaded means the 777 can fly from Asia to any city in the US with a single stop, typically Anchorage, Alaska, as well as nonstop between the East Coast to most European cities.
Unlike some airlines, Crystal will not be flying any cargo in the passenger cabin, solely in its belly hold, according to Ziskind.
Freight can either be loaded in the aircraft's onboard containers or via built-up pallets.
The aircraft has already begun flying cargo missions, starting with a charter to bring supplies back from Shanghai, China after flying nearly 16 hours from Fort Myers, Florida.
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