EBACE: Boeing close to signing deals on BBJ version of 737 Max

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Boeing expects to close deals imminently for business jet versions of the re-engined 737 Max aircraft now in development for entry into service with airlines in 2017.

Boeing Business Jets president Steve Taylor explains that the company is in discussions with potential VIP customers for the 737 Max, which will add CFM Leap-1B turbofans, dual-feather winglets and aerodynamic improvements.

"We're getting pretty close to having some deals on those," Taylor told reporters during a news conference.

Boeing is still working to finalise the design requirements for payload and range on the 737 Max, which was launched last year in response to the early orders success of the Airbus A320neo.

Any VIP orders for the 737 Max would introduce the latest of several new business jet derivatives of Boeing airliners since the first 737-based BBJ was unveiled 15 years ago.

Boeing earlier this year delivered the first two 747-8 VIPs. They will enter service after finishing completions in the third quarter of 2014, says Taylor.

Meanwhile, the first 787 VIP will be delivered in the third quarter of 2014, while production slots for new aircraft are not available again until 2019, Taylor adds.

In the meantime, potential buyers are offered three 787 flight test aircraft that can be modified into business jet configuration, explains Taylor. Those aircraft will be available for delivery in 2014.

Boeing delivered eight business jets last year, including one 777 VIP model and seven 737-based jets, while at the same time increasing net orders by two aircraft.

Boeing expects to deliver 12 business jets this year, including eight 747-8s, two BBJ2s and two BBJs. Both BBJ2s and two 747-8s are already delivered, with a third 747-8 expected to be delivered later this month.