Andrew Doyle/MUNICH Guy Norris/LOS ANGELES

Airbus Industrie and Boeing are considering offering larger versions of their airliner-based business jets to meet market demand for higher-capacity aircraft with less range than models now available.

A Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) based on the 737-800 could be on sale as early as the fourth quarter of this year, say sources at the US manufacturer. The BBJ now uses the fuselage of the 6m shorter -700, combined with the strengthened wing of the -800.

Airbus, which recently began flight trials of its A319 Corporate Jet (A319CJ), confirms it has launched a "preliminary study into how an A321-200 would perform as a corporate jet". Industry sources say the consortium is also looking at an A320CJ, although Airbus says this option "does not currently figure in our plans".

The studies by both manufacturers follow requests from potential customers who do not require the more than 11,100km (6,000nm) maximum range capability of the BBJ or A319CJ, but want more space than is available in the current models.

The A319CJis being certificated to carry up to six auxiliary fuel tanks. The manufacturer already plans to certificate the passenger version of the latest 93t maximum take-off weight variant of the A321-200 to allow it to carry extra tanks. This variant could become the platform for the A321CJ. The A321 is nearly 11m (36ft) longer than the A319.

Boeing confirms interest in a 737-800-based BBJ, which is loosely referred to as the "BBJ II", but says: "We're not ready to say anything about that yet." The launch timing "depends on interest from the marketplace, but there are a lot of uncertainties such as the state of the market itself, and the willingness of the parent companies", it adds. The BBJ is produced by a joint venture between Boeing and engine manufacturer General Electric. The first aircraft is due to enter service in mid-July.

Airbus is flight testing an International Aero Engines V2500-powered A319CJ and aims to achieve certification by mid-year. It has 12 commitments for the type so far, and aims to sell at least 10 a year. It recently formed a dedicated team to handle sales and marketing of the aircraft, which has suffered relatively poor sales to date because of the lack of delivery slots on the A319 line.

Source: Flight International