The race is on for the delivery of the first BBJ 747-8 head of state aircraft and Boeing Business Jets president Steve Taylor wants to be at the office in the front when the delivery happens sometimes in the next month.
“At this point we don’t know which one will be first – but whichever it is I know I want to be flying it,” he said at the show.
The handover – believed to be to either Qatar or Kuwait – will be a milestone for the American manufacturer which has seen a surge in its widebody orders.
“Over the past eight years, Boeing Business Jets has distinguished itself in the VIP widebody market,” Taylor says. “We saw an opportunity in the business jet market for widebody ¬airplanes and now we are seeing it pay off.”
Aside from the two 747-8 aircraft, even more Boeing VIP widebody airplanes will enter the market this year. One BBJ 787 delivered in 2013 has already entered into service, and Taylor saysfive more will be delivered by the end of 2014. Meanwhile, design work is underway by Andrew Winch Design on the first of the larger 787-9 airframes. A total of 14 787s have now been ordered for VIP missions.
But BBJ’s traditional 737 platform is also entering a new era. The first BBJ based on the 737-8 Max – ordered in March for 2018 delivery – has seen an increase in range over the original projections. Taylor said the BBJ Max8 has an additional 890nm of range over the BBJ2 – a 16% improvement, enabling customers to have greater flexibility by allowing them to fly farther. “Even with seven auxiliary fuel tanks it can also carry three times the cargo of a BBJ2 – and that is really important in some markets, “ Taylor says.
An additional six metre fuselage stretch can add another passenger zone to the larger cabin. The extended range for the BBJ Max of 6,435 nautical miles comfortably connecting Western Europe with west coast USA. The BBJ Max9 – the enhanced BBJ3 – will add a further 915nm to the existing capability.