N.Z. firm offers a multi-role BBJ cabin

 - October 1, 2010, 9:17 AM

The multi-role business jet cabin has come of age as several companies step in to serve a growing market for such ­in­teriors. Altitude VIP Completions of Auck­land, New Zealand, announced its BBJ-C cabin last fall, and partner Rainsford Mann Design (RMD) is already creating cabin concepts with modules for as many as five distinctively different roles.

Altitude’s BBJ-C uses Boeing Business Jets’ BBJ Convertible as its platform. The Boeing 737-700 derivative comes with a 140- by 96.5-inch cargo door forward, adjacent to the forward passenger door. The aircraft offers a range of slightly more than 5,600 nm and a max cruise speed of Mach 0.82.

Similar cabin multi-role configurations are found more often in smaller business jets and they rarely offer a modular change-out, but rather a way to change a cabin segment quickly from one use to another, such as from medical evacuation to executive transport and back. Or the final design calls for a fixed executive ­forward section and an aft section in a business class configuration.

The Altitude cabin configurations come as independent modules for cargo, economy seating, business-class seating, medevac and executive operations. The galley and lavatory are aft and an executive version with shower is an option. The configuration mixes are numerous and may include some or all of the options, such as two executive modules, with a side-facing divan, dining table and lounge as an option, and a cargo area forward. The only real restriction with regard to placement of modules is that the forward location of the cargo door requires that the cargo module be located forward.

A combination of economy and business class modules might carry as many as 86 passengers. Executive modules with a master suite and executive lounge aft might also include a cargo area with room for a Ferrari “or a few race horses,” said RMD managing director Rupert Mann.

Altitude estimates the time for a standard “quick-change” is less than eight hours; however, most configurations could be switched in well under that time. When the executive module is removed, said Mann, the idea is to place the monuments and other high-end pieces in protective bags for storage.

According to head of commercial and VIP aircraft Matthew Woollaston, other aircraft are appropriate candidates for Altitude’s multi-role makeover, as long as they come in a model with an existing cargo door.

Reasonably Priced?

Altitude asserts that its multi-role refurbishment or config­­uration of a green aircraft does not necessarily cost any more than a standard ­permanent interior, “other than the additional requirements for ­pallets.” Also adding to the costs would be certification requirements since each layout option would require separate certification. However, he noted, “The actual cost of furniture and fixtures does not ­increase just because the aircraft is capable of multiple configurations.”

The modular change-out system, said Woollaston, offers “a solution that enables the same aircraft to deliver a head of state in the morning and fly a humanitarian mission in the afternoon, and flexibility at a level not yet seen by the industry.”

Altitude does not yet have a confirmed launch customer, but a spokesperson said it is in discussions with “a couple of clients–mostly government representatives looking for a BBJ-C solution,” with mission requirements ranging from high-density seating through to executive configurations with staterooms.