Project Phoenix, the Dubai-based business aircraft sales organisation that specialises in the renovation and conversion of used airliners to VIP configuration, is to launch a new aircraft - the Phoenix LBJ - based on the Boeing 737-800.
The company - managed by former Bombardier Aerospace executives, president Mike Cappuccitti and chairman John Lawson - said at EBACE last year that they had identified other aircraft types to adopt their Project Phoenix conversion plan.
Over the past year the company identified the 737-800 as the ideal candidate to enter the narrowbody airliner conversion market. The new venture's LBJ name stands for Large Business Jet. Lawson says the decision follows a six-month technical evaluation of suitable airliners and a dialogue with potential customers.
"The people who want to pay $95 million for a new BBJ will continue to do so. But we see a market for people who want to pay around $50 million for a BBJ-type aircraft."
President, Project Phoenix Aircraft
Speaking on the eve of EBACE Cappuccitti says the launch should not be seen as an attack on Boeing Business Jets' market. "The people who want to pay $95 million for a new BBJ will continue to do so," he says. "But we see a market for people who want to pay around $50 million for a BBJ-type aircraft."
Project Phoenix has issued a request for information to several completion facilities in Europe, Australasia and the USA, to undertake the work that will reflect Project Phoenix's exacting standards. It is unveiling renderings of its proposed cabin design to potential customers at the show.
Several designs are being prepared including a 30-seat VIP version with private office and state room as well as a higher density corporate version. Customers will be able to choose the number of auxiliary tanks to be installed depending on their operational range and payload requirements.
"We will be aiming at a 15-month programme from identifying the airframe, taking it through our maintenance process and then through completion," Cappuccitti says.
© Project Phoenix
Project Phoenix BBJ concepts
The group decided on the 737-800 because of the type's popularity and strong likelihood that there will be an increasing number of aircraft coming into the market.
"It is a new generation 737 and has all the right attributes for our programme. It requires little in the way of avionics upgrades. It has winglets and we can vary the range and payload capability depending on our customer's specific needs," he says.
"We will be looking at half-life aircraft that can mean something like 12,000 cycles remaining - at worst that's around 24,000h - and virtually new in business aviation terms."
The key market driver is the need for fiscal prudence in future VIP aircraft purchases. "As the market improves we think there will be people who need a BBJ-sized aircraft but would rather pay the price of a [Bombardier] Global Express."
Cappuccitti says the official launch will be at MEBA in December when the company will have prepared the full data package including weights, performance and price.