Boeing's business aviation chief says a re-engined 737 would open a significant number of new city pairs for the Boeing Business Jet, although he acknowledges the airlines, not corporate or private operators, will determine what happens next on the venerable narrowbody.
"When we've been doing re-engine studies," says Steve Taylor, president of Boeing Business Jets, "when I look at our airplane and we're already at 6,200nm [11,470km], I think, if we could add 10% range to that, that really opens up some city pairs."
With nine additional fuel tanks, the maximum a BBJ can carry, Taylor says "you end up with a pretty limited cargo space and you end up with a fairly restricted interior, in terms of what the configuration is going to be and the weight and whatnot".
Taylor says the range of today's BBJ, which on average are fitted with seven fuel tanks, may add additional momentum to the new set of ultra-long-range aircraft being developed.
"I think that's why there exists an opportunity for the Gulfstream G650 and for the Global 7000 and 8000 because those open some city pairs that are quite a bit farther out."
A glance at the great circle opportunities for the BBJ, growing 10% from 6,200nm to 6,820nm, may open routes such as New York to Shanghai, Dubai to São Paulo or London to Buenos Aires.
Taylor concedes his desire for more range on the BBJ family is eclipsed by the demands of commercial operators.
"The decision on that is made by the airline economics, we just get to ride along with whatever decision is made."
The airfamer has moved away from re-engining the 737 in recent months because of a lack of customer demand, but says it is still examining the possibility of adjusting the existing airframe to accommodate engines with double-digit improvements in fuel burn.
Boeing windtunnel-tested modifications to the 737 earlier this year. The modifications included a nose blister fairing and higher nacelles to make way for additional clearance because of a larger fan.
Boeing says a decision on the future of the narrowbody, which may include the possibility of an all-new jetliner, is expected in 2011.