Boeing Adds New BBJ. Maybe

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Boeing earlier this month announced a new version of its ber business jet, the BBJ 3, which is derived from the company's next-generation 737-900ER airliner. Billed as a more spacious offering than previous BBJs, Boeing says the 3 has 1,120 square feet of cabin space, 35 percent more than the original BBJ and 11 percent more than the BBJ 2. With up to five auxiliary fuel tanks, the jet will have a maximum range of 4,765 nautical miles (8,825 km). There's one problem, though: Boeing does not yet have a launch customer, or at least didn't when it made the 3's announcement on Nov. 21 at the Dubai Air Show. To date, 102 BBJs have been sold since the program was launched in 1996. There are currently 83 BBJs in service around the world; the fleet has generated more than 168,000 flight hours to date and 66,250 flights, with an industry-leading 99.9 percent dispatch reliability. "BBJ customers value long-range capability and cabin size and this product offering enhances both attributes of the BBJ family," Boeing Business Jets President Steven Hill said at the Dubai Air Show. "It is fitting that we announce our intention to offer this airplane at the Dubai Air Show, because we believe the airplane will have wide appeal in this region." Twenty-six percent of the BBJ worldwide fleet is based in the Middle East. The majority of BBJ 2s has been ordered from this region and they make up almost half of the area's BBJ fleet. The BBJ 3 would join the BBJ and BBJ 2 family of business jets, which are based on the commercially popular next-generation 737-700 and 737-800, respectively.