Boeing Business Jets president Steve Taylor chose a unique venue for yesterday’s BBJ press briefing: Comlux’s head-of-state-outfitted BBJ 767-200, which is here at the MEBA show static display on a break from its normally busy charter schedule. The Comlux BBJ 767, which is based in Bahrain, can fly up to 6,400 nm with a full load of 60 passengers and 10 tons of freight. “This is our flagship,” said Fly Comlux CEO Andrea Zanetto. The BBJ 767 is Comlux’s largest airplane and flies 500 to 600 hours a year, mostly for head-of-state missions. “We were lucky to have the opportunity to bring this to the show,” he said, “it’s been very busy.”
For Boeing Business Jets, the goal this year was to deliver 12 and have 12 airplanes enter service in 2012, said Taylor, who added that this goal is nearly accomplished. Through November, 10 BBJs were delivered, with two BBJ 747-8s scheduled for delivery by the end of the year to head-of-state customers in the Middle East. Three BBJ3s are due to enter service by the end of the year and nine BBJs did so through October. One of those was the longest-range BBJ in the world, a BBJ 777-200LR that can fly 10,000 nm, basically anywhere in the world from the Middle East, where it is based. The 777 completion was done by AMAC Aerospace in Basel, Switzerland.
Thirty percent of BBJ sales are in the Middle East, and eight of nine BBJ 747-8s ordered thus far have been for Middle East customers. A popular modification for the 747-8 is the Aeroloft cabin space extender built by Greenpoint Technologies. Taylor likes to point out that the Aeroloft adds more area to the 747-8’s upper cabin than the cabin space of a Gulfstream G650, for a total of 5,200 sq ft. So far, five Aerolofts have been ordered, with two delivered and the third to be delivered next week.
The BBJ 747-8, while longer than the 747-400, is more efficient, Taylor noted, and can fly 1,000 nm further, “effectively non-stop anywhere in the world from the Middle East. That’s the kind of capability that world leaders look for.”
While it might seem like there would be a limited market for large airplanes like the BBJs, Taylor sees plenty of opportunity for additional sales. There are about 25 VIP 747s flying today, he explained, and many are getting old. “There’s a significant market opportunity to replace them,” he said, “and the 747-8 is very much the choice.”
Boeing has sold 12 BBJ 787s, and the first delivery will take place in a year, followed by several more through 2014. Boeing Business Jets is currently working with completions centers that are preparing for 787 work. Jet Aviation is likely to get the first BBJ 787 completion, but Taylor noted that a contract for that has not yet been signed.