Boeing Business Jets (BBJ, Booth 7010) is displaying its first production BBJ3 this week at EBACE 2013 and says the aircraft is for a Middle Eastern customer. Seven BBJ3s have been ordered so far, with three in completion, four in service and another scheduled to enter into service in June, according to Boeing.
The aircraft on the EBACE static display is not yet painted but the interior, which seats 38, is complete with a dedicated bedroom suite, bathroom and shower, as well as a large meeting/living area, dining area and separate staff compartment. The polished wood, sculpted carpeting and handcrafted entrance paneling set off the distinctive interior, which was installed by Jet Aviation in Basel, Switzerland. (Jet Aviation has completed the interiors of some 24 Boeing aircraft since 1978). The installation of a long-range auxiliary fuel system in the BBJ3 was completed at the DeCrane Aircraft Systems Integration Group facility in the U.S.
The BBJ3 is a derivative of the 737-900ER airliner and has a range of 4,900 nm, meaning that it can fly nonstop, with NBAA IFR reserves, from Geneva to Hong Kong, Beijing, Miami, or even the Boeing factory in Seattle, Washington. “This range advantage is why the BBJ3 has out sold its direct competitor by seven to one,” said BBJ president Steve Taylor. A 6,500-foot cabin altitude (typical comparable aircraft cabin altitude is 8,000 feet), which makes long flights more comfortable for passengers and crew, is another big selling point for the BBJ3.
Taylor pointed out that Boeing Business Jets had made good on its promise at EBACE last year to deliver 12 green VIP aircraft to completion centers in 2012. “We also had 12 BBJs enter into service in 2012, which is great, considering this is not an easy marketplace in which to sell,” he said. “I continue to see opportunity, but every sale is a hard fought battle for us.”
Taylor showed that, since its founding in 1996, Boeing Business Jets has logged 208 orders for BBJs (not airline conversions or tankers), with 186 deliveries and a total of 148 aircraft in service. Of those, 25 are VIP 747s serving heads of state. “The BBJ 784-8 market outlook is good,” said Taylor. “We have sold nine, and we are in active negotiations for two more sales right now.” In the past year there has been one BBJ sale, one BBJ 787 sale and one BBJ 777 sale, he said.
Taylor insisted that the current commercial aircraft backlog at Boeing does not slow down BBJ deliveries. “Boeing recognizes that the VIP market is special, so we have some production capacity set aside for VIP aircraft. I’m not going to say there isn’t pressure, but we can get VIP aircraft. We have a green position for an aircraft available in 2014 right now,” he said.
On the horizon for Boeing Business Jets is the BBJ Max 8 and 9, which should push the aircraft’s range toward the 6,000-nm mark. The BBJ Max 8 should feature CFM International’s new Leap-1B engines and Boeing’s advanced technology winglet to increase fuel efficiency by 13 percent.
When asked what we can expect from the BBJ Max, Taylor smiled. “The aircraft will have modern cockpit instrumentation and extended range and will be available for green delivery in or around 2018. I’m expecting that there will be pretty good traction in the next 12 months among those existing BBJ owners who are interested in modernizing.”