EBACE Convention News

Boeing thinks BIG with 747-8 cabin mod

 - May 11, 2009, 12:57 PM

Boeing Business Jet (Booth No. 7051) expanded its product line of ultra-large business jets with modifications targeted at the smallest and largest of its models–“smallest” being relative only to airliner-size business aircraft.

Announced for the first time here at EBACE is a cabin modification to the Boeing 747-8 VIP widebody airliner that adds an extra 807 sq ft of floor space above the main deck of the aft cabin area from door three to door five. This “overhead space utilization” (OSU) modification, designed by Greenpoint Technologies (Booth No. 1557), is possible because of the 747-8’s unusually high 13-foot (four-meter) cabin height behind its two-story forward section. By moving the wiring, hydraulics and air-conditioning to the sidewalls of the aft cabin, the ceiling space opens up enough to add a second floor here, too, or to create an impressive vaulted ceiling.

The OSU kit will be installed post-production and includes stairs from the main deck to the space above. Suggested OSU configurations include a lounge with variable seating options and up to 16 enclosed berths. The mod is actually three modules and one could decide to not install the forward one to create an impressive high-ceiling entryway.

The mod does not have any windows and will not be certified to be occupied during takeoff and landing. However, by providing additional space and particularly beds, customers can forego selecting fully reclining passenger seats in the cabin, opening up possibilities for other options. Total floor space in a 747-8 VIP aircraft with the full OSU mod comes to 5,620 sq ft, just 730 sq ft less than the Airbus A380’s 6,350 sq ft of floor space.

BBJ president Steven Hill said total bookings for Boeing Business Jets, including VIP Boeing widebody airliners ordered since the formation of the company in July 1996, had increased by four since EBACE’08. Eight new airplanes were ordered, but four were canceled, two 787VIP and two 747VIP aircraft (three of these four were from the Russian market). Boeing’s current backlog is comprised of 33 BBJs worth $1.9 billion and 22 widebody VIP jets worth $5.4 billion, for a total backlog value of $7.1 billion.

Hill also announced his retirement in July, after 35 years with Boeing, most of it in sales. He has been president of Boeing Business Jets since August 2004.

Taking his place is Steve Taylor, currently BBJ chief pilot, who joined Boeing in 1991 as a flight operations engineer. He subsequently was a production flight test pilot for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, a captain for Boeing executive flight operations and a self-employed BBJ pilot for two years. He told EBACE Convention News, “I feel like a dog who’s finally caught up to a car he’s been chasing, but I’m not sure what to do with it.” However, he said one of his first tasks will be to find a new chief pilot, probably from the ranks of Boeing production pilots.

BBJ also said the previously announced BBJ Convertible (BBJ C), is now available to customers. Based on the 737-700C, the BBJ C provides multi-mission capability the company believes will be of interest as a head-of-state aircraft, with the capability to use the airplane for VIP, troop, cargo and medevac roles. Featuring a large cargo door on the port side of the fuselage, the aircraft can be converted from all-passenger to all-cargo in about eight hours.