top of page

BBJ 26 Year Retrospective / Continued . . .

From the beginning, BBJs all included integrated air stairs that allow the plane to access airfields that lack ground support equipment. Also, it's notable that the 737 variant can operate at small airports with short runways.
Screen Shot 2023-02-25 at 1.47.09 PM.png
Integrated airstair / shown deployed at remote airport
But despite the enormous success of the BBJ division, then built entirely around the 737 airframe, Boeing saw plenty more room for growth. And what could have been a more natural direction than simply expanding the program to more of their own existing commercial airframes. And in 2013 it went from talk to walk. BBJ formally announced the introduction of the B-777, the first wide-body (two-aisle) aircraft as one of its offerings. It would include both the -8 and -9 variants and both featuring GE's GE9X engines. The size of the triple-seven is enormous compared to even the longest of the 737 variants and Boeing well knew the market for such private or head of state aircraft would be much smaller - but clearly there was a market. That is to say, it wasn't nearly so much of a speculation on Boeing's part, as something customers were asking for. But whatever the specifics were that brought it about, it was certainly a natural outgrowth.

To demonstrate how adaptable the BJJ 777-8’s and 777-9’s interior cabins are for owners and operators, Boeing unveiled Home, Business, Dining, and Privacy interior concepts for the aircraft from leading design firms Greenpoint Technologies, Jet Aviation, and Unique Aircraft Design. Boeing says “each concept” demonstrates how the BBJ 777X “can be transformed to suit the tastes of any VVIP private customer or Head of State.

Pictured below is the first 777 flagged as a Boeing Business Jet. It's a -8 variant being flown over the Cascade mountain range in Washington state and sporting the traditional BBJ paint scheme. Below that are two examples of the voluminous interior space the triple-seven affords. 
Boeing Business Jet / B-777-8
Te above interior concept was created by UNIQUE aricraft, (Warja Borges)
a renown design studio in Munich, Germany
Te above 777 VVIP interior concept was created by Jet Aviation in Basil, Switzerland
But why stop there, right!? I mean if we're going to shuffle off into wide-bodies, there were certainly more that could be offered, and in the years that followed, they were. Next came what many have called the most beautiful aircraft ever to grace the skies (and certainly fall into that crowd), the venerable 747-9. I could find data on exactly when the -9 first rolled out, but when it was, there were numerous interested parties for the aircraft as a VVIP platform, not surprisingly most of them, foreign heads of state. But it should be pointed out that earlier versions of the 747 had been purchased and outfitted as VVIP aircraft, dating all the way back to the stubby 747-SP. Below are two examples of the popular -8 model as head of state aircraft. 
A7-HBJ QATAR AMIRI FLIGHT BOEING 747-8 - delivered July 2015
Design house Alberto Pinto was commissioned to design the above 747-8 for an undisclosed customer. While it wasn't sold as a Boeing Business Jet, it is a remarkable example of the beauty and popularity of the 747 as a VVIP or head of state aircraft - and is why eventually it was added to the Boeing Business Jet stable of aircraft. 

Alberto Pinto's interior is pictured below. One of the aircraft's main cabins.
Screen Shot 2023-02-26 at 4.24.57 AM.png
But in terms of B-747-9s actually sold by the Boeing Business Jet division, the only two we're aware of is to the US government, currently being completed as AirForce One (presidential aircraft) and E-4B (Flying Airborne Command Post), both operated by the US Air Force. 

However another stunning example of the the 747-8 is the head of state aircraft for the Republic of Kuwait. We worked in collaboration witn the now defunct Associated Air Center (Dallas) for more than eight months before gaining final approvals from the customer in early 2009. The customer wanted a crisp modern look with some sparsely infused regional influences. The completion took 2 years finally delivering to her customer in late 2011. The aircraft still in service today.

The aircraft's exterior and two of its interior spaces are pictured below.
Republic of Kuwait L-2 Main Majlis / Exterior Livery on the ramp in Kuwait - Service entry: 2011
Republic of Kuwait L-2 Main Majlis / Principal's Chair / looking aft. 
Design: RRAD Design   Completion: Associated Air Center
Republic of Kuwait L-2 Main Entry and Stairway 
Design: RRAD Design   Completion: Associated Air Center
But as most of us know, the 747 is no longer. As of January 31, 2023, a glamorous era in aviation ends, as almost exactly 54 years after its first flight, production of the Boeing 747 has been stopped and the last aircraft delivery was recently celebrated. The 747 will be missed by almost everyone.

But then of course there is the B-787 Dreamliner, arguably the most advanced aircraft flying - and certainly one of the sexiest. Although slightly smaller than the triple-seven in terms of interior volume, the 787 is generally more sought after as a VVIP platform, according to Boeing. The largest variant of the 787 Dreamliner has a range of around 11,910 km (6,430 NM) which is still impressive but more limited than that offered by the 777. The Dreamliner offers direct long-haul flights on routes such as Vancouver to Madrid while longer routes will require multiple stops depending on the available airports. 

Any way you want to cut it, the 787 is among the top options for a VVIP or head of state aircraft with superior quiet, an all composite fuselage and a highly distinguished signature. With the 747 now officially retired as of January 31, 2023, a glamorous era in aviation ends, as almost exactly 54 years after its first flight, production of the Boeing 747 has been stopped and the last aircraft delivery is celebrated
Deer Jets \B-787 VVIP Interior / Main Cabin

List price for a new Boeing 787-8 is $239 million – although buyer’s can usually negotiate significant discounts off this price. This is the cost to buy a ‘green’ aircraft. Designing, manufacturing and installing a bespoke interior for an aircraft of this size can cost anywhere between $15 million and $60 million, depending on what configuration, features and materials are chosen. According to Boeing, as of March 2018 there have been 15 orders for the BBJ787, of which 12 have been delivered and four are in service. 

Go ahead . . . dream big!

We'd like to acknowledge our primary sources for this article. Our thanks to Boeing Business Jets, INSIDER, Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association, Corporate Jet Investor and Wikapedia. 

We can't wait to see what BBJ will bring in the next quarter century.
bottom of page