A big conference going on in Atlanta this week focuses on a more glamorous, but at the same time lesser known, area of our industry. That’s the VIP or business jet category.

In my last job I was able to participate in the sale of five 747-8s for VIP operations. It’s an absolutely fascinating business. Also a successful one.


“Business jets” come in widebodies, too. Here’s a concept image of a 787 VIP airplane.

Just for example, there are more than 20 747s in VIP configurations today, and we clearly expect over the next 20 years for those airplanes to be replaced. Not only that, we see further growth in that market as well.

Boeing Business Jets is a collaboration between Boeing Commercial Airplanes and GE Aircraft Engines that markets jets with the cabin size of a Next-Generation 737-700, but with the wing and landing gear of the longer-range Next-Generation 737-800.

It turns out we had somewhat miscalculated when we launched this venture back in 1996. At the time, we forecast sales of maybe a half dozen or so airplanes per year. Instead, BBJ sold well over 100 airplanes in the first 10 years!

And during those 10 years, we launched the BBJ-2, and the BBJ-3, extending our collaboration with GE Aircraft Engines. We also began selling VIP versions of our popular widebody 787, 777 and 747 airplanes, independent of any engine company collaboration. As the BBJ begins its second decade, orders are at 151 for BBJs and widebodies combined.


Boeing’s business jet customers by region: the highest concentration split between the Middle East and North America - closely followed by Europe. Private individuals are the largest customer segment, followed by government transport, corporate, and charter operators.

The event going on in Atlanta is the 60th annual meeting and conference hosted by the National Business Aviation Association. Its goal is to create an environment that fosters business aviation around the world.

And the show is a great time for Boeing to update existing and prospective customers on features that make flying easier for busy executives and government officials.

“Lower Cabin Altitude” is one of those features. It’s a system that regulates the cabin environment to equal a maximum elevation of 6,500 feet above sea level. Customers love this feature, which is standard on all new BBJs and available as a retrofit kit for in-service BBJs. It’s also available of course on the 787 VIP airplane. And just think, soon we’ll all have the benefit of “lower cabin altitude” as passengers on the 787 Dreamliner.

For those who can’t make it to the NBAA this year – you can get a taste of what’s new at our recently re-launched Website for Boeing Business Jets. When you navigate around the site, you’ll find you’ll be able to check out the floor plans and specifications of these special airplanes. And you’ll also find out that Boeing provides worldwide support for the individuals, businesses, and governments who operate VIP jets.

I’ll be checking out the site myself. I can’t make NBAA either, as I continue my travels through Asia this week.

Comments (6)

Chris C (South Africa):

The phenomenal Boeing 747-8VIP airplane is the absolute pinnacle of ultimate business/private/charter air travel, period. Gracing the skies effortless at Mach 0.86, the 747-8VIP is sheer beauty. What other ultra-large business jet can match the 747-8 for its high cruise speed, range of over 17,150km and floor space of 444.6sqm, as well as offer the most outstanding efficiencies, reliabilities and operating economics? Answer, well, another 747-8VIP and nothing else.

G (France):

I think a 787-8 at 540,000 lb MTOW would be an excellent VIP transport.

James (Honolulu, Hawaii):

I don't understand. I thought the 787's composite construction made possible the lower cabin altitude pressurization. If you are able to offer this on BBJs, then why not make it standard on all production Boeing jets. Wouldn't this be a MAJOR selling point vs. Airbus?



Good question. And as you may know, the loads from cabin pressurization are increased as the cabin altitude is lowered. For BBJ airplanes, the expected utilization is such that far fewer flights will be accumulated in a 20 year period than for a like airplane in commercial utilization. This lower BBJ utilization allows the higher repeated pressurization loads while still maintaining the necessary product durability. On the 787, it is not low utilization that allows the higher pressurization loads, rather it is because the composite fuselage structure on the 787 is not sensitive to fatigue like aluminum.

- Randy Tinseth

Buzz (Brazil):

Randy, thanks for the post. I've always been extremely curious about eccentricities of a 747 VIP buyer. And I've always imagined: what can you do inside a plane that big?? Maybe a pool??

Neil D. (Bothell, WA _ USA):

Would you consider the Saudi King's 747SP the first BBJ?

Owners of 747-8VIP can enjoy landing in more airports than his peers in an A380. Imagine after landing, the A380 entourage has to get on a convoy of buses to their destination!


David (Sandy,Utah,USA):

It seems like most of the recent Airbus ACJ sells have been of their A318 Elite. Has Boeing considered produceing a BBJ based on the 737-600? It would appear that there is a decent market for planes in this size.

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