Boeing Business Jets (Static Display) is assessing the market for a BBJ Combi variant that would facilitate a split passenger/cargo configuration, the company announced on Monday at ABACE 2015.
David Longridge, who replaced Steve Taylor as president of BBJ in December, said the BBJ Combi “could be the next step and a great addition to the BBJ family.” Such an aircraft would increase flexibility of the aircraft, he said, adding he believes a BBJ Combi would be a good fit with the Chinese market.
The announcement comes a year after Boeing launched the newest edition to its VIP product line, the BBJ Max. Boeing formally launched the BBJ Max program with its first order from an undisclosed customer on April 2, 2014. The first order involved a BBJ Max 8, which is based on the 737 Max 8. Delivery of that aircraft is expected in 2018.
The company has sold four BBJ Max aircraft and a total of 228 VIP aircraft across the product line since 1996, according to its March 2015 report. The BBJ accounts for the majority of the orders–164–with other 737s and the 787 following at 13 apiece. Boeing has also delivered 206 VIP aircraft to date.
Currently, 18 BBJs are operated in the Greater China region. While that number has remained the same over the past year, Boeing had delivered five to the region in the previous year. It also is encouraged that China remains a strong market, particularly as customers in the region are increasing their international travel.
Boeing Business Jets’ customer base in China includes five charter companies. These operators also have looked to increase their business internationally, as China banned government employee travel on private businesses. In addition to new sales, Boeing also has seen increased interest from China in pre-owned aircraft.