Lock & Load
After an OEM upsurge in sales, the VVIP completion community prepares for the coming BOOM!
by Markus Beal
Multiple industry sources are now confirming an impending boom on the horizon for VVIP (Transport Category) aircraft completions. And it's not fluff or idle speculation. It's based on aircraft already sold to VVIP customers in late 2016 / 2017 and extending into 2018. Both Boeing and Airbus have seen surges in VVIP orders within their respective BBJ and ACJ business units.
It may be old news for some but at last year's NBAA Convention in Las Vegas, Boeing Business Jets announced that it booked 14 new orders in the last year. The orders included one 737, four BBJs, three BBJ MAXs, one BBJ 787-8, two BBJ 777-300ERs and three BBJ 747-8s. And vigorous sales continue to occur for Boeing Business Jets thus far in 2018. Again this is not just pie in the sky. These are purchased aircraft slated for interior completion for VVIP customers - once they're minted and ready to fly from Boeing.
The Airbus Corporate Jetliner (ACJ) Family also announced last year it reached the milestone of 100 sales, worth $5.5 billion based on list prices, just ten years after programme launch in 1997. Initially comprising just one model, the Airbus ACJ, which evolved into a corporate jet from the A319, the family first expanded to include an A320 Prestige and, more recently, an A318 Elite. And like Boeing, sales have surged in 2017 and to date.
This means completion centers will be busier than they were last year and backwards into 2016 - and that increase in business, plus the projections of more to come, are causing many centers to pour new investment dollars into their facilities; investments ranging from upgrades in equipment, back shop revitalizations and significant outright expansion for some. According to one industry insider, "It's coming...all these new aircraft have to be completed somewhere and it's going to spell jobs for many and an overall upsurge in the VVIP market space for several years"
One of the big stars in BBJ's portfolio of business aircraft is the BBJ MAX 7. This has and is predicted to be one of the top selling aircraft to VVIP customers; and certainly the most popular narrow-body. Above is a bedroom concept created by renowned Paris based design firm, Alberto Pinto, it shows off the volume and expanded length of the Max airframe.
"At BBJ, we are always innovating our products and that includes the cabin interior," said Laxton. "What really sets Boeing Business Jets apart from our competition is that we offer our customers incredible range and incredible cabin space. Our customers can take advantage of multiple living areas, a full bedroom and full size bathrooms and the new design beautifully highlights these advantages."
At least a dozen of BBJ's orders came in 2017, making it one of the strongest sales years for Boeing Business Jets since the business unit was formed. Greg Laxton, who took the helm of Boeing Business Jets early in 2016 year, noted cyclic nature of the business and said, “its very humbling and exciting that we’ve had a good year.”
Laxton attributes the uptick to strengthening of economies worldwide. “The markets are coming back. GDPs are tracking upward, commercial traffic is trending upwards and even the cargo market, which had been lackluster, is trending upward,” he said. “The world has stabilized from an economic standpoint, which makes people comfortable with moving into VIP aircraft.” While some of the sales have involved heads of state, the sales have been balanced among personal, government, charter and other uses. The sales also have been balanced geographically between Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East.
For users of Freshbook, it hardly matters what side of the community you're own. Suppliers up and down the category range all stand to regain business they've perhaps lost over the last two years and see new growth as well. And for the Designers and Completion Centers, it obviously will bring an upsurge in new business over the next several years, at least for those who play in the VVIP arena.
Boeing BBJ Max
Design concept by: Alberto Pinto
Boeing 787 Dreamliner - delivered 2016