Boeing explores business jet variant of 787

 - October 23, 2006, 7:02 AM

As Boeing Business Jets closes in on the sale of its 100th BBJ, the company is also deep into computer concepts of an executive/VIP variant of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Boeing Business Jets is a joint venture between Boeing and General Electric and, as suggested by the name, is responsible for all business jet configurations of Boeing airliners, from the 737 through the new 787.

In the middle of last month, Boeing Business Jets recorded the first sale of a BBJ to an operator in the People’s Republic of China. “This…brings us closer to our 100th sales order, which we hope to achieve before the end of the year,” said Boeing Business Jets president Steven Hill.

In an interview with AIN, Hill said Boeing Business Jets is accomplishing its goals for this year. “The market momentum looks good as we approach the sale of our 100th BBJ.”

Asked if the growth in sales of the BBJ and stretched BBJ2 portends additional sales of other Boeing aircraft as executive/VIP platforms–in particular the new 787–Hill said Boeing Business Jets has had “a half-dozen inquiries from people who have said they want one, and all of them said they want to be the first.”

Making the Dreamlineran Executive Airplane

As a result, Boeing has already begun creating interior ideas and issuing proposals for an executive 787. “We think it’s going to make a terrific executive airplane,” said Hill, explaining that in that configuration, with 75 passengers on board, it will have the “legs” to fly nonstop to any destination in the world. The baseline 787-8 and stretched 787-9 airliner versions are expected to have a maximum nonstop range of greater than 8,500 nm.

“We see it as a replacement for a lot of aging executive and government 767s and 757s,” said Hill. Boeing estimates there are approximately 25 aircraft in that category. There are also a number of Airbus A330s and A340s in a government or executive/VIP configuration that might also figure into that market.

Of the older 767s, at least half are government aircraft, and Hill sees “a definite market” for the 787 among smaller countries seeking a new or upgraded government transport with good speed, cabin size, range and operating efficiency.

Hill said the inquiries to date have come from the Middle East and two other regions as well as from private individuals.

As with the Boeing Business Jet variant of the 737, an executive/VIP version of the 787 would also come off the airliner assembly line. Slots for executive/VIP 787s would be arranged only after the company receives a firm order from a customer. This hasn’t happened yet, but it is high on Boeing Business Jets’ wish list for the near future.

Meanwhile, the list of firm orders for the 787 as an airliner is nearing the 200 mark. And while it doesn’t mean that slots could not be made available for executive/VIP 787s, the fact is that the new large twinjet is sold out well into 2011.