By Guy Norris in Los Angeles
Boeing is considering the development of a convertible freighter version of the Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) based on the 737-700C, it was expected to announce this week at teh European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (EBACE) taking place in Geneva.
“The decision probably won’t be made for a few months as to whether the aircraft would be officially part of the BBJ family” says the company which adds “we are talking to several customers and there is a lot of interest.” The variant, if launched, will be based on the -700C which was given the go-ahead in 1997 following an initial order from the US Navy which ordered the C-40 Clipper military derivative.
Dubbed the BBJ C, the variant would incorporate the main deck cargo door which Boeing says is “big enough for a car or horses.” The version would also be the first multi-purpose business jet. “It’s a wonder no-one has thought of it before,” adds the company which says its customers frequently want to “transport a lot of stuff.”
Boeing also envisages the BBJ C would be developed along the lines of the Quick Change 700C variant, enabling an overnight change capability, but does not anticipate any follow-on mixed freight/passenger Combi derivatives. The BBJ C would build on the existing -700C, which incorporates the basic -700 fuselage with the stronger gear and heavier gauge wings of the -800, by adding auxiliary fuel tanks and winglets.
In its current commercial configuration, the -700C is capable of carrying 18,780kg (41,420lb) of cargo over ranges up to 5,335km (2,880nm). Boeing says the BBJ C, by contrast, will be a more capable aircraft when incorporating additional auxiliary under-floor fuel tanks that cannot be considered on the commercial version for belly cargo space reasons.
With up to six auxiliary tanks Boeing says estimated range of the BBJ C is around 9,195km. Boeing is also expected to provide more details about the proposed 737-900ER-based BBJ 3 variant announced at last year’s NBAA, as well as the possible corporate variant of the 787. “Interest is high” in both versions says Boeing, though slot availability remains an issue, particularly for the 787 which is essentially sold out for the first three years of production