Andrew Doyle/MOSCOW


Boeing Business Jets (BBJ) has approached several Formula One motor racing teams with the idea of using 737-700 Combis to transport cars, mechanics and associated equipment to races and test sessions.

The suggestion has generated interest within the sport, says BBJ senior adviser international sales Peter Smutny, who says Boeing marketeers came up with the idea after analysing the costs incurred by teams that frequently charter widebody freighters ad hoc to transport cars and equipment.

The proposed 737-700 Combi would be based on the -700IGW airframe developed for the 737 BBJ - the fuselage of the -700 combined with the strengthened wing and landing gear of the larger -800. The Combi version would have a large freight door in the forward fuselage.

Smutny says BBJ has devised a layout that would allow five Formula One cars to be "stacked" in the forward fuselage. Up to 35 mechanics could be seated in the rear cabin. Typically, the aircraft would carry fewer people but with a more comfortable cabin layout. Access to the rear cabin from the forward passenger doors could be by means of a starboard gangway.

For the transport of equipment to races in South America, Australia and Asia, the F1 teams currently arrange for the joint lease of Boeing 747 freighters. Equipment is transported to racing circuits in Europe direct from the teams' headquarters by road in articulated trucks.

Smutny is "very hopeful" that the 737 Combi will find a home in Formula One, but emphasises that the idea is one of several business opportunities being evaluated by the manufacturer.

The basic BBJ 737, fitted with auxiliary fuel tanks, is capable of flying 10,200km (5,510nm) with a customised interior accommodating 50 passengers.

BBJ is a joint venture between Boeing and engine manufacturer General Electric. Firm orders for 46 BBJ 737s have been announced so far.

Source: Flight International