Alan Peaford  

The Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) successfully completed its first flight on the eve of the Farnborough show. 

BBJ president Borge Boeskov was hosting a press dinner in London when a call on his cell phone from pilot Mike Hewett confirmed mission success.

And that, Boeskov confidently states, puts the BBJ firmly on track.  

The high-performance derivative of the 737-700 (right) took off from the Renton Municipal Airport, just south of Seattle, on Friday evening UK time.

Captains Mike Hewett and Mike Carriker put the BBJ through its paces for 2h. During the flight, wing flaps, landing gear, backup flight controls and other parts and systems of the aircraft were tested.  


 For Boeskov the major challenge now is "negotiating" sufficient production line capacity to meet demands.  

The financial case for the BBJ was initially based on eight aircraft a year. "We are now anticipating an average of 24 a year and I am confident we can exceed that," he says.

Boeing planners have estimated a world demand of 600 large business aircraft over the next 10 years. The company's target is to get 40% of this market. 

Boeskov has a commitment from the parent for two aircraft a month but already he is anticipating orders for 30 aircraft in 1999. "We are now the fifth largest Boeing customer," Boeskov says.

Boeing Business Jets was launched in the summer of 1996 as a joint venture between Boeing and General Electric (GE). To date, 29 orders have been placed, with more expected to be announced this week.  

Designed especially for corporate and VIP applications, the ultra-long-range BBJ has a cabin nearly three times larger than Gulfstream V and the Global Express.  


The versatile interior can be designed to meet a variety of applications, from in-flight business centres with conference rooms and telecommunications links to comfortable VIP suites with showers and exercise rooms.

The BBJ combines the size of the 737-700 with strengthened wings and landing gear from the larger 737-800. The airplane has a range of more than 11,100km (6,000nm) and can cruise at speeds up to .82 Mach, equivalent to ground speeds of 1,020km/h.

It is powered by the same CFM56-7 engines used on next-generation 737 commercial aircraft. The first BBJ rolled out of the hangar on 26 July 1998. Eight of the aircraft are scheduled for delivery by the end of the year.

Source: Flight Daily News