By Rebecca Rayko, AWN Editor
Boeing Business Jets celebrated its third NBAA with "a real machine" to show. The first BBJ to be displayed at NBAA was flown into Peachtree-DeKalb Airport by its new owner Michael Chowdry, chairman and majority owner of Atlas Air.
Chowdry, a pilot himself, and a flight crew flew the BBJ to NBAA from the Lufthansa Technik completion center in Hamburg, Germany. The BBJ then spent the rest of the show on display at PDK Airport.
Chowdry represents the type of customer who will buy the BBJ, according to BBJ president Borge Boeskov. After an eight-month completion, the BBJ is outfitted with a private bedroom, private office, two full-size lavatories with showers, full galley and private crew rest quarters.
Chowdry, who spends more than 200 nights a year traveling, says he expects to fly 800-900 hours annually on his newest business jet. He spent the same number of hours flying on his Challenger, which Chowdry says has the same operating costs as the BBJ.
Chowdry says he will be able to do business faster with his BBJ. The majority of his company's revenues come from 42 different countries, which requires him to travel so often.
Boeskov used the annual gathering of the business aviation community to announce the latest order count for the BBJ, which now stands at 56.
BBJ had 10 new orders to announce, which shows a continued momentum for the program.
"In our first three years of operation, we have doubled the original sales estimates for this program," Boeskov said.
Certified in October 1998, the BBJ program has 28 delivered green aircraft at completion centers. Five BBJs will come out of completion centers this month, and 12 will be completed by the end of the year. The first fully completed BBJ was delivered to an undisclosed customer on September 4.
The BBJ combines the 737-700 fuselage with strengthened wings and landing gear from the larger and heavier 737-800. Boeing is continuing to refine the aircraft according to market demands, Boeskov says. Boeing added winglets, added thrust and a new navigation system.
Boeing will further extend the market reach of the BBJ with a new product offering - the BBJ 2. Larger than the BBJ, the BBJ 2 offers 25% more interior space and more than twice the luggage space of the BBJ. It will be built on the 737-800 fuselage, which is 20 feet longer than the 737-700-based BBJ.
"This is a typical Boeing move," Boeskov said, referring to the company's propensity for derivative models. The first BBJ 2 will be delivered green to a completion center in December 2000, although the company is selling the new model now. The BBJ 2 has a green price of $43 million.
Boeing didn't expect to launch a larger BBJ this early, Boeskov said, but the launch was based on customer demand. "Customers wanted more floor space, especially those coming out of 727s, DC-8s and other models in that market."
Offering both the BBJ and the BBJ 2 will allow Boeing to capture an even larger part of the emerging market for ultra-long-range business jets, he added.
Range for the BBJ 2 will be 5,800 nm, a little less than the 6,200 nm of the BBJ. The airplane will cruise at .82 Mach and use the same CFM56-7 engines used on the 737NGs. General Electric will play the same role in its BBJ joint venture with Boeing, which is to provide engines for the aircraft.
Boeing expects to sell five BBJ 2s by the end of the year. Overall, Boeskov says the sales ratio between the BBJ and BBJ 2 will be about 3 to 1.
And, there is a BBJ 3 on the radar screen, Boeskov added. The company is also still looking at the supersonic business jet market.