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The demand for airline-sized private jets has boomed over the years and Boeing has stepped up with its fleet of luxury bizliners — see the 25-year history of Boeing Business Jets

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Boeing Business Jets.
Boeing Business Jets.

Boeing

  • Boeing Business Jets celebrated its 25-year anniversary in July, having dreamt up the first BBJ concept in 1996.
  • The program targeted a niche market of ultra-wealthy customers who wanted bigger, more comfortable bizjets.
  • Boeing has added many aircraft types to the BBJ line, like the 737 MAX, 787 Dreamliner, 777, and the 747-8.
2021 marks the 25-year anniversary of Boeing Business Jets, which launched in 1996. The company has a long history of manufacturing aircraft for both commercial and private use but eventually combined the two products into an official line of bizjets.

Boeing Business Jets
Boeing Business Jets

Boeing

Source: Boeing spokesperson

While the official BBJ brand launched in the 1990s, it was not the first private plane the company built for executive flying.

Boeing BBJ 737 Jet Edge International
Jet Edge International’s Boeing Business Jet 737.

Jet Edge International

Source: Boeing spokesperson

In 1930, Standard Oil of California, now known as Chevron, ordered a specially modified three-engine Model 80A, or Model 226, to fly its executives from city to city. The Model 80 was Boeing’s first plane engineered for passenger operations.

Boeing Model 80A.
Boeing Model 80A.

PhotoQuest/Getty Images

Source: Museum of Flight, Boeing spokesperson

According to Boeing, the Model 80A was successful because it got its private passengers to their destinations quicker than by train without sacrificing comfort.

Boeing Model 80A.
Boeing Model 80A.

National Library of France

Source: Boeing spokesperson

In 1943, Boeing’s Model 314 aircraft played a significant role for the US government. The plane operated as a private service to shuttle President Franklin D. Roosevelt to meet with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the Casablanca conference.

Boeing Clipper 314 on takeoff.
Boeing Clipper 314 on takeoff.

Museum of Flight/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Source: Boeing spokesperson

The flight pre-dated the “Air Force One” call sign and was the first time a sitting president flew on an airplane.

Former President of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt celebrates his birthday on board a Boeing 314 flying boat.
Former President of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt celebrates his birthday on board a Boeing 314 flying boat.

Museum of Flight/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Source: Boeing spokesperson

President Eisenhower also had private planes manufactured by Boeing at his disposal. Specifically, he had three VC-137s, the Air Force derivative of the 707, and was the first to use the “Air Force One” call sign.

Air Force One taking off in 1959.
Air Force One taking off from Heathrow Airport, at the end of President Eisenhower’s state visit to the United Kingdom, 2nd September 1959

Terry Fincher/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

Source: Air and Space, Boeing spokesperson

Boeing also developed the VIP VC-137C, which was the first jet aircraft built for presidential use. The plane was a highly-modified 707-320B airliner and carried eight presidents, like John F. Kennedy and Jimmy Carter. The most famous was SAM 26000.

SAM 26000 VC-137C.
SAM 26000 VC-137C.

US Air Force

Source: US Air Force

One of the most impressive converted Boeing private jets was the Qatari Royal Family’s lavish Boeing 747-SP. It featured a dining room, a master bedroom and bathroom, a spiral staircase, business class seats, and an economy cabin.

Qatar Amiri Flight Boeing 747-8 BBJ.
Qatar Amiri Flight Boeing 747-8 BBJ.

Jetlinerimages/Getty Images

Source: Sam Chui

According to Boeing, over the years, the company’s private planes have been referred to as the “flying penthouse,” the “apartment in the sky,” and the “flying business offices.”

Howard Hughes' Boeing 307 VIP plane.
Howard Hughes’ Boeing 307 VIP plane known as the “Flying Penthouse.”

Bettmann/Getty Images

Source: Boeing spokesperson

After nearly 70 years of converting airliners into business jets for companies, government departments, and private individuals, Boeing decided to create a series of large, customizable planes for the corporate market.

Boeing Business Jets
Boeing Business Jets

Boeing

Source: Boeing spokesperson

The first Boeing Business Jet concept was imagined in 1996 by Phil Condit, president of Boeing, and Jack Welch, chairman and CEO of General Electric as a joint venture project. Their first proposal was based on the Next-Generation 737-700 jet.

BBJ 737NG.
BBJ 737NG.

Boeing

Source: Boeing

The plane could fly over 6,000 nautical miles nonstop, connecting cities like New York to Tokyo and London to Johannesburg, and offered ample cabin space.

BBJ 737NG.
BBJ 737NG.

Boeing

Source: Jet Options

According to Boeing, Condit was passionate about the idea because he saw a promising market for customers who may want a bigger, more comfortable private jet.

BBJ 737NG.
BBJ 737NG.

Boeing

Source: Boeing spokesperson

The program officially launched on July 2, 1996, and the first BBJ 737-700 aircraft rolled out of production on July 26, 1998.

BBJ 737NG.
BBJ 737NG.

Boeing

Source: Boeing

The plane took its first flight on September 4, 1998, captained by Mike Hewett and Mike Carriker. The 737 took off at 9:12 a.m. from Renton, Washington.

Mike Hewett flying the first BBJ.
Mike Hewett flying the first BBJ.

Boeing

Source: Boeing

The plane was used as a demonstrator aircraft and was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration and Europe’s Joint Aviation Authorities on October 30, 1998.

First BBJ flight.
First BBJ flight.

Boeing

Source: Boeing spokesperson

The first two BBJ 737s were delivered the week of November 23, 1998, with one going to General Electric and the other going to an undisclosed buyer.

BBJ delivered to first owner.
BBJ delivered to first owner.

Boeing

Source: Boeing

From the beginning, BBJs have included integrated air stairs that allow the plane to access airfields that lack ground support equipment. Moreover, the 737 can operate at small airports with short runways.

BBJ air stairs.
BBJ air stairs.

Mehdi Photos/Shutterstock

Source: Boeing spokesperson

The original BBJ was based on the 737-700, but Boeing created more variants based on its later 737 planes.

A PrivatAir Boeing Business Jet 737.
A PrivatAir Boeing Business Jet 737.

Vytautas Kielaitis/Shutterstock

Source: Aerospace Technology

The BBJ2, which is derived from the Boeing 737-800, was launched in 1999. It added 25% more cabin space and 100% more cargo capacity compared to the BBJ1. The first BBJ2 was delivered in March 2001.

Indonesian presidential plane, a BBJ2.
Indonesian presidential BBJ2.

Nieto Azzam/Shutterstock

In November 2005, BBJ3 was revealed. The plane was based on the 737-900ER, offering 35% more cabin space than BBJ1 and 11% more cargo capacity than BBJ2.

State of Kuwait's BBJ3.
State of Kuwait’s BBJ3.

Oleksandr Naumenko/Shutterstock

Source: Aerospace Technology, Global Air

In 2014, Boeing launched the Boeing MAX bizjet family, which offered lower cabin altitude, advanced fuel-saving systems, and enhanced passenger comfort.

BBJ MAX Family.
BBJ MAX Family.

Boeing

Source: Boeing

The MAX family includes the BBJ MAX 7, BBJ MAX 8, and BBJ MAX 9.

Rendering of BBJ MAX.
Rendering of BBJ MAX.

Boeing

Source: Boeing

The first delivery was a BBJ MAX 8, which operated its first “flyaway” in April 2018 and was delivered in October 2018. The plane is fitted with an external fuel tank, allowing it to fly over 7,600 miles.

First BBJ MAX 8 flyaway.
First BBJ MAX 8 flyaway.

Boeing

Source: Boeing

In addition to narrowbody planes, Boeing also created widebody bizjets, including The BBJ 777 and 777X that can connect virtually any two cities worldwide…

BBJ 777X.
BBJ 777X.

Boeing

Source: Ainonline

The BBJ 787-8 and BBJ 787-9 Dreamliners…

BBJ 787 Dreamliner.
BBJ 787 Dreamliner.

Boeing

Source: Boeing

And the BBJ 747-8, which is the world’s largest private jet.

BBJ 747-8.
BBJ 747-8.

Cabinet Alberto Pinto

Source: Insider

The planes come with several unique interior options that are created in partnership with Boeing and design companies, which can be customized by the buyer. Some options include Mark Berryman’s yacht concept for the BBJ MAX…

Boeing Business Jets 737 MAX Concept
Boeing Business Jets 737 MAX Concept

Boeing

Boeing teamed up with a yacht interior design company to create a private jet cabin for the 737 MAX — see inside

The sky-inspired Genesis concept from SkyStyle and KiPcreating for the BBJ MAX…

Boeing Genesis Cabin

Courtesy of Boeing/SkyStyle & KiPcreating

This Boeing 737 Max private jet interior design looks more like a futuristic spaceship than it does a private jet

The Lotus concept from Greenpoint Technologies for the BBJ 777X…

BBJ Lotus design.
BBJ Lotus design.

Greenpoint Technologies

Boeing’s new $400 million 777X private airliner is a flying mansion that can go halfway around the world

And the Cabinet Alberto Pinto design for the BBJ 747-8.

Cabinet Alberto Pinto BBJ 747-8 interior design.
Cabinet Alberto Pinto BBJ 747-8 interior design.

Cabinet Alberto Pinto

See inside the world’s largest private jet: a Boeing 747 with an interior so large it took 4 years to design and build

Boeing has solidified 260 orders of its BBJs to date, having sold to a small market of deep-pocket individuals, royal families, as well as government entities worldwide.

BBJ 777.
BBJ 777.

Boeing

Source: Aviation Pros, Simple Flying

Customers include people like Tony Robbins, a motivational speaker in the US…

Tony Robbins' BBJ.
Tony Robbins’ BBJ.

Silver Air

Source: Simple Flying, An airline is offering Tony Robbins’ Boeing 737 private jet featuring an onboard shower for charter. Take a look inside.

And the Dutch royal family.

Dutch Royal Family's BBJ 737.
Dutch Royal Family’s BBJ 737.

Patrick van Katwijk/Getty

See inside the ‘Dutch Air Force One’: a Boeing 737 private jet that the king of the Netherlands flies himself

These ultra-rich buyers are taking a new interest in BBJs as travel restrictions ease, with Boeing receiving a new order of its BBJ 737-800 this year.

Boeing BBJ 737 Jet Edge International
Jet Edge International’s Boeing Business Jet 737.

Jet Edge International

Source: AOPA, Ultra-wealthy travelers are ditching traditional private jets and buying airliners. See inside 2 airliner-turned-private-jets from Airbus and Boeing.

According to BBJ, business aviation traffic is up 15% compared to 2019, with first-time buyers fueling the demand.

BBJ 777-9.
BBJ 777-9.

Boeing

Source: AOPA

“Private aviation is attracting those who have previously flown first or business class,” BBJ director of marketing Alex Fecteau told AOPA. “More than 30 percent of our new orders are from first-time buyers.”

BBJ 747-8.
BBJ 747-8.

Boeing

Source: AOPA

Read the original article on Business Insider
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