Boeing Business Jets (BBJ, Booth 1101) is celebrating its 25th anniversary this week at NBAA-BACE and highlighting “our accomplishments over the last quarter-century,” said company president James “J.D.” Detwiler. The airframer is also marking the return of the BBJ Max, capped this year by service entry of the first BBJ Max 8, and the first BBJ Max 8 order since its now-resolved grounding.
The company launched Boeing’s business jet line in 1996, using the 737 airframe for its first family of single-aisle corporate jets before adding VIP variants of Boeing’s widebodies to its portfolio.
The Max makeover of the 737 features aerodynamic improvements, including advanced winglets and new CFM LEAP-1B engines, which together deliver a 13 percent reduction in fuel consumption, cutting operating costs and environmental impact while increasing the Max 8’s range to 6,325 nm, a boost of some 600 nm.
The first redelivered Max was announced in May by Jet Aviation, which performed the completion—designed by the MRO’s in-house studio in collaboration with the undisclosed owner’s designer—at its Basel, Switzerland completion center. The interior creates “a cozy residential space in which one could relax and enjoy the ride,” Jet Aviation said, and includes details such as woven wooden paneling, full-flat cocoon seats finished in 3D wood veneer, and an integrated wine fridge in the living area.
Since its return to service, as of mid-September the Max platform had flown more than 150,000 revenue flights, accumulating some 369,000 total flight hours and achieving service reliability exceeding 99.4 percent, said Detwiler. Meanwhile, “Regulators have confirmed that the airspace is opened to the 737 Max in 178 jurisdictions worldwide,” he noted. “In this day and age, when we want to reduce carbon emissions and carbon footprints, this aircraft is delivering and exceeding our performance guarantees.”
With its return, “we’re seeing customers’ confidence increase,” said Detwiler, citing “ongoing conversations” with new customers for the BBJ Max and “a tremendous increase in interest in BBJs across the board.” Boeing Business Jets expects that such interest “will only increase as we complete this year” and will lead to even more robust order activity in 2022, he said.
Some prospects may be visiting the BBJ demonstrator (by appointment only) on static display this week at Henderson Executive Airport. Though installed on a 737-800 airframe, the 13-passenger interior—created by Germany’s Unique Design and completed by Switzerland’s AMAC Aerospace—is intended to showcase the Max’s interior possibilities. It features a separate dining room and lounge area, a master bedroom with ensuite bathroom and shower, and a private office with a berthable divan.
Attendees can also find Boeing Business Jets’ chief pilot Rene “Gonzo” Gonzales at the static line, eager to talk about the company’s history and fleet, represented today by the BBJ Max family (currently the Max 8 and forthcoming Max 7 and 9), the BBJ 787 Dreamliner, and the flagship-in-waiting BBJ 777X (-8 and -9) that is now in flight testing and production.
“There really is no competition for the BBJ 777X’s unparalleled range,” said Detwiler of the jet’s “ability to fly anywhere on the planet and connect any two city pairs nonstop,” including the long-elusive London–Sydney route in either direction (9,188 nm) “with adequate fuel reserves and no issues whatsoever.”
The 777X's purpose-built General Electric GE9X engines offer 5 percent lower specific fuel consumption than competing engines, emissions 29 percent below CAEP/8 requirements, and noise levels 15 dB below Stage 4 standards.
The main deck of the BBJ 777X-9—the first variant to come to market—will offer 3,689 sq ft of cabin space, enough to accommodate many options for bedrooms, recreational areas, and a large dining room for individual and corporate customers, while heads of state will have ample space for a large staff and communications and security teams. Supplemental humidification, an advanced three-stage air filtration system, and a quieter and lower-altitude cabin are additional enhancements, while the dual-axis stability system, developed for the B787, delivers a smoother ride.
The hallmark of the 777X’s airframe advances its fourth-generation composite wing with folding wingtips. In lieu of winglets, Boeing increased the wingspan to 235 feet—22 feet longer than the current wing—improving takeoff performance, reducing thrust requirements, and increasing initial cruise altitudes. The folding wingtips will ensure that the jets can access any airport that 777s currently use without any need to alter airport parking, gate, or other ground facilities.
Detwiler reported having “preliminary conversations” with potential BBJ 777X customers but added, “We probably won't see the orders come in until the flight test matures and it gets a little further along in the certification process.”
Certification and entry into airline service are targeted for the 2023 timeframe, with the first BBJ 777X-9 slated for availability in 2024.
At its convention center display, Boeing Business Jets is also highlighting renderings of new interior concepts for the Max and, said Detwiler, its “proven track record of providing the most reliable aircraft and the very highest benchmarks for service in the business aviation industry.”
As he considered the Las Vegas gathering on its eve, Detwiler said, “We're looking to reconnect with our owners and operators, some of them making the trip from overseas. It’s very reassuring to a lot of our customers as well as our own team that there will be health and safety protocols in place.”
Now, with the Max back in the sky and 25 years of history to celebrate, “We are focused on future sales for the first time in a long time, and really excited about that,” Detwiler said. “With the tremendous resurgence of interest in both the Max and the 777X, we're getting into a situation where we have a limited amount of delivery positions, and a lot more customer interest. We're trying to align that and make sure everyone can be served.”