The first order for the new BBJ Max 8 model in March was a major breakthrough for Boeing Business Jets in its efforts to convince buyers of the value that the new generation of 737, with its more efficient CFM International Leap-1B engines, will deliver to VIP operators. The airframer believes the additional range and cabin space provided by the new Max 8 will give the BBJ family a significant extra edge at the top end of the business aviation market.
At the EBACE show on Monday, Boeing Business Jets president Steve Taylor announced that the BBJ Max models are now set to deliver even more range than when they were first launched last year. The BBJ Max 8 will now have a range of 6,435 nm (up from 6,330 nm in 2013) and the BBJ Max 9 will be able to fly up to 6,350 nm (up from 6,255 nm).
Compared with the existing BBJ model with additional fuel tanks the new version will deliver an additional 540 nm of range. The BBJ Max 8 will have 890 nm more range than the BBJ 2 (up 16 percent) and the BBJ Max 9 will have 915 nm more range than the BBJ 3 (up 16.8 percent). Flying out of Geneva, the new BBJs will all be able to comfortably fly nonstop to cities as far-flung as Los Angeles, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Johannesburg.
With the Max 8 fuselage being six meters longer, the fuselage auxiliary fuel tanks can be more easily accommodated, and this allows for a 26-percent increase in available cabin space. Taylor said that equates to an extra zone for another lounge or bedroom. It also can carry around three times the amount of cargo as the standard BBJ, with both aircraft equipped with the same number of auxiliary fuel tanks.
Boeing plans to achieve the first BBJ Max 8 green delivery in 2018, with more to follow in 2019. For the first customer aircraft, the OEM will install the auxiliary fuel tanks prior to the completion stage.
Since the 2013 EBACE show, Boeing has achieved six net sales with orders for the first BBJ Max 8, three BBJs, one BBJ 2 and two 787-8s. One order for a BBJ 3 was cancelled. At its press conference here in Geneva on Monday, the manufacturer also reported that over the same 12-month period it has made seven green deliveries (three BBJs, one BBJ 2 and three 787-8s) and that a total of 11 aircraft have entered service (including the first 787-8 from Boeing’s new Dreamliner family).
This summer, the first VIP version of the new 747-8 widebody is due to enter service. Two more 787-8s are now undergoing completion.
Including all the various VIP versions of its widebody airliners, Boeing has achieved a total of 216 orders for its BBJ products, and has delivered 195 of these (with 176 currently in service). Since December 31, 2010–a period that is acknowledged to have been generally lean in terms of new demand–Boeing has logged 16 orders.
“The market [globally] is pretty good at our end,” Taylor told AIN. “The top end has fared much better than the bottom end and the top end of our business [the widebody aircraft, such as the 787] is where most of the activity has been.”
That said, Taylor acknowledged that the situation in Europe is far from ideal. “The European market continues to be a challenging one and what’s going on in Eastern Europe [Ukraine] is making it more dynamic,” he added. “Uncertainty is a big deterrent for people to buy aircraft and obviously there is a lot of uncertainty. But that doesn’t mean the market has gone away.”
This week’s EBACE show will also bring news of new initiatives for BBJ completions, such as Lufthansa Technik relaunching its platform-based interiors packages that promise greater value and reduced downtimes for the aircraft. Meanwhile, Fokker Services is developing a new 54.5-inch panoramic window that will bring much more light into the cabin and offer magnificent views for passengers.
Boeing has an array of 17 licensed completion partners. “This gives our customers flexibility, whether their preference of supplier is based on geographic, technical, price, or business relationship considerations,” Taylor said.