December 2005/January 2006 
Volume 04, Issue 8 
Commercial Airplanes

Firm, toned and taut

Number of orders for Boeing Business Jet hits triple digits


Legend has it that the Boeing Business Jet was conceived on the back of a cocktail napkin in 1996 as Phil Condit and Jack Welch—then the CEOs of Boeing and General Electric, respectively—discussed the need for a bigger and better business jet. An extensive user of corporate jets, Welch convinced Condit to develop a high-performance derivative of the Next-Generation 737-700, capable of flying more than 6,000 nautical miles nonstop and offering more cabin space than traditional long-range business jets.

Nine years later, individual owners and government, charter and corporate operators have ordered 102 units. No other manufacturer of ultra-long-range, large-cabin business jets has achieved this milestone. The BBJ sales team, led by BBJ President Steven Hill, won five orders within the past eight months.

"When the BBJ was launched in 1996 we knew we had a great product, but the market potential is even bigger than we imagined," said Hill.

It hasn't always been rosy for the BBJ Program. Shortly after 2001, the business aviation industry experienced the same slump that hit the commercial aviation industry. But by 2004, orders once again started coming in. Although orders for 102 airplanes pales in comparison with more than 2,800 received for the commercial Next-Generation 737, Hill said the achievement is impressive when you consider the fact that individuals—not airlines—are buying the vast majority of BBJs. There are 83 BBJs in service around the world. The BBJ fleet has accumulated more than 168,000 flight hours with a dispatch reliability of 99.9 percent.

Wealthy individuals and government heads of state make up 76 percent of the BBJ customer base. The remaining 24 percent is split between corporate operators and charter companies such as United Arab Emirates–based Royal Jet, which operates four BBJs.

"Royal Jet has responded positively to the current rapid growth and high demand of its customers," said Ammar Balkar, vice president Sales & Marketing at Royal Jet. "Our four BBJs, of which two have an ensuite (bathroom attached) State Room, provide our loyal clientele with the ultimate travel solution, especially for long-haul flights."

With 807 square feet of cabin space, the BBJ's comfort and utility of space are what make the aircraft so appealing to its owners and operators. The BBJ 2, based on the 737-800, is even bigger, with 25 percent more cabin space and 50 percent more cargo space than its sister model.

The BBJ program recently announced an even larger offering based on the 737-900ER, which would provide 35 percent more cabin space than the original BBJ.

Boeing delivers BBJs in what is called a "green" condition, meaning without interior furnishings or exterior paint. The customer works with one of several completion centers to design and install a custom interior and an exterior paint scheme.

BBJs are typically designed to seat eight to 18 passengers and often include luxurious amenities such as a stateroom with a queen-size bed, bathroom and shower, dining room, lounge area, full-service galley, private office, and guest bathroom and shower.

With nearly three times the cabin space of traditional business jets, the BBJ "offers the ability to travel with family, friends or business associates while working, eating, sleeping or entertaining in the air as you would at home," Hill said.

It's what Hill describes as traveling at the speed of life: "You don't have to put your life on hold when you travel aboard a BBJ."

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