Boeing believes the just-launched business jet version of its smallest 737 Max variant will open up a new market in the Gulf by offering the capability of flying non-stop to the US East Coast for the first time.
“The 737 Max 7 is an airplane we’ve been waiting to offer for 20 years,” says David Longridge, president of Boeing Business Jets. “It has enormous significance to the Middle East.”
Unlike the larger versions of the re-engined Max series – the Max 8 and Max 9 – the Max 7, which was announced at the National Business Aviation Association exhibition in Orlando in early November, has a range of 7,000nm (13,000km), making New York just within range of Dubai under private flight rules.
Currently, the only in-service, non-widebody business jet capable of such a mission is the Gulfstream G650ER. “I have a lot of respect for Gulfstream,” says Longridge. “I think their success in this region shows there is a market for this type of aircraft.”
He adds: “The [BBJ Max 7] is slightly larger than the BBJ2 and that is calculated with realistic interior weights. We are very proud of the fact that we put a lot of discipline into how we quote the ranges of these aircraft.”
As deliveries of the current-generation 737-based BBJs taper off – of 164 orders, 156 are in service and a further seven in completion – Boeing is pushing its successor. It has 11 orders for the Max 8 variant – first delivery of which will be in 2018 – and one for the Max 9.
“We are hoping to add to that very soon,” says Longridge.
He maintains that the big advantage of the Max 8 over the current aircraft is that it is the same size as the BBJ2, but has a longer range – at 6,500nm – than the BBJ1. “The Max 9 is over 1,100ft2 (102m2) larger again, and its range is almost 6,400nm,” he says. “We are talking about really large aircraft that fly a really long way.”
Longridge is also optimistic about selling more 787-based BBJs, of which Boeing has so far taken 15 orders and delivered nine green aircraft. Three are in service, including with Chinese operator Deer Jet.
“This an aircraft with 10,000nm range, with a speed of Mach 0.85, with huge windows and an extraordinary range of technology that you won’t find anywhere except a business jet,” says Longridge. “We never expected to sell 15, but we continue to get interest from heads of state and private individuals.”
He adds: “Boeing Business Jets was set up 20 years ago and I think in another 20 years’ time we will be selling two variants – a Max or a narrowbody like the Max – and a 787.”
Boeing has delivered a total of 71 VIP-configured jets to the Middle East, its biggest region, ahead of North America with 58.
Boeing will be pushing two products in the aftercare and remarketing areas at MEBAA. It is offering sellers of a BBJ an additional package of benefits to sell on to their buyer, which entitles the used-aircraft buyer to the same suite of services that the operator of a new aircraft receives, such as training and entry into service assistance.
Boeing has also agreed with nine completion centres to offer a power-by-the-hour type guarantee to operators that guarantees their maintenance costs – including on the interior – for up to 10 years.