Boeing unveiled the BBJ 737 Max 7 at NBAA as the third member of the re-engined narrowbody family to be redesigned as a VIP transport.
Orders for the first 7,000nm-range version of the 737-derived BBJ were also expected to be announced as the show progresses.
“I think we’ll have commitments made and possibly even aircraft sold in time for NBAA,” says David Longridge, president of Boeing Business Jets.
The 737 Max 7, with a passenger cabin 2m (6ft) longer than the 737-700, will enter service in 2019.
The BBJ version is now scheduled for first delivery three years later, when the first package of performance improvements will be available for the aircraft, Longridge says. “We’re already looking at making the existing Max better. We at BBJ want to take advantage of that plan,” he says, without elaborating.
The improvements are not intended to address any performance shortfalls, he stresses, but instead represent the first of a series of product upgrades Boeing envisions for the 737 Max.
Boeing plans to deliver the first 737 Max 8 to a completion centre in 2018 – a year after the airline version enters service with Southwest Airlines.
As Boeing continues to study larger versions of the 737 Max family, including a potential 737 Max 10, the BBJ division is not looking for a fourth member of the family.
“I don’t believe the 737 Max 10 would offer the kind of range that our customers would find appealing,” Longridge says. “I’m not counting on the Max 10, if it’s built, to make up a larger portion of our BBJ market share. Eventually, 20 years from now, you’ll be talking about Max 7s dominating our [BBJ] order book.”