Lower specification version based on 737-700 with business class seating proposed

Boeing Business Jets could offer a long-range shuttle version of the Boeing 737-700 in any future business-class airliner competitions in response to the Airbus A319 Long Range. The Boeing/General Electric joint venture recently lost a contract to supply formerly all-Boeing PrivatAir with airliner-class business jets for a Lufthansa wet-lease deal.

Lee Monson, president of Boeing Business Jets, says he had "absolutely no idea" that Airbus would offer the A319LR in place of the A319 Corporate Jetliner, and admits the BBJ "was too much aircraft for the mission". Geneva-based PrivatAir is to deploy the two A319LRs on Lufthansa business class-only transatlantic routes from Düsseldorf and Munich.

The BBJ is a hybrid aircraft, combining the fuselage of a 737-700 with the strengthened wings and landing gear of an -800. Monson says Boeing Business Jets plans to offer a "scaled-down version" based on the standard 737-700, which would be configured with business-class seating, but without all the "bells and whistles" of the BBJ such as dual head-up displays and airstairs. It will also have fewer auxiliary fuel tanks.

"PrivatAir was essentially an airliner deal, and it came down to the classic airliner economics of weight, range and passengers carried," says Monson. It is understood that PrivatAir's lessor, CIT Aerospace, would not finance the BBJ because it cannot be re-sold as an airliner as it lacks the appropriate certification.

Monson says Boeing Business Jets' role is to find non-airline customers for Boeing aircraft and that the sale of a Boeing Commercial Airplanes inventory aircraft would require only "minor modifications" to its joint venture agreement with GE, mainly concerning engine overhaul intervals.

Boeing Business Jets would not be given priority on 737 production slots, which would cause a 12-month delivery delay for any potential customers for the proposed new 737 version.

Source: Flight International