There is a lot of excitement regarding Boeing’s upcoming 777X family. The aircraft will represent a strong commitment to a twin-engine future while retaining the size that made older aircraft like the 747 so awe-inspiring. The examples produced for airlines will surely be very nicely appointed inside, but the proposed business jet version of the aircraft is on another level altogether! Let’s take a closer look at this flying mansion.
What is the upcoming 777X series?
Let’s start by examining the fundamentals of the 777X family as a whole. The aircraft will be a next-generation iteration of the US manufacturer’s popular 777 series. This revered family entered commercial service with Chicago-based US legacy carrier United Airlines in June 1995, having made its first test flight almost exactly a year beforehand.
Boeing has since produced more than 1,600 examples of the ‘triple-seven,’ but, after nearly three decades of service, the time has come for it to consider a new version.
This will be known as the 777X, an umbrella term that encapsulates the 777-8 and 777-9 models. The former of these measures 69.8 meters long, while the latter will clock in at an enormous 76.73 meters! This will see it overtake the 747-8 as the world’s longest airliner by around half a meter.
As well as offering higher capacity than older 777s, the 777X will boast a greater range than its predecessors. Indeed, the smaller 777-8 will reportedly be able to complete non-stop flights as long as 16,170 km (8,730 NM)!
Despite the enormous promise of the aircraft, and new features such as folding wingtips, the 777X program has been subjected to various delays.
For example, Boeing had to devote significant time to the recertification of the Boeing 737 MAX in 2019 and 2020. Meanwhile, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has also affected rates of development. The type eventually made its first test flight in January 2020, and is currently expected to enter service towards the middle of the decade.
Existing business-configured 777s
In terms of Boeing’s current 777 offering, there are already a handful of VIP-configured triple-sevens out there from the existing portfolio. Indeed, as seen below, Saudi charter company Aviation Link flies a private 777-200LR. According to Planespotters.net, this aircraft is registered as VP-CAL, and has been with the company since its delivery in November 2010.
Existing private 777s offer customers impressive capacity and range, with a conspicuously luxurious twist. Indeed, according to Paramount Business Jets, the VIP-configured 777-200LR that it hires out seats just 88 passengers. This represents less than a third of the aircraft’s two-class capacity in passenger service (317 seats, according to Boeing).
As you can imagine, this gives its lucky few passengers a great deal more space. Furthermore, its range of 18,520 km (10,000 NM) significantly outranks the already impressive 15,843 km (8,555 NM) offered by the standard 777-200LR. Naturally, this also results in high hire fees, which Paramount lists as $23,650 per hour. But how will the private 777X compare?
Ultra-long-range, and then some
In December 2018, Boeing made the exciting announcement that its business jets division would be producing 75-seat VIP versions of the 777X family. It first publicized this at the bi-annual Middle East Business Aviation Association Show (MEBAA) in Dubai, UAE. Their designations will be the BBJ (Boeing Business Jet) 777-8 and 777-9, corresponding to the two 777X variants on which they will be based. Greg Laxton, head of Boeing Business Jets, said that:
“Our most exclusive customers want to travel with the best space and comfort and fly directly to their destination. The new BBJ 777X will be able to do this like no other airplane before it, redefining ultra-long range VIP travel.”
When Laxton says ultra-long-range VIP travel, he certainly means it! As we have established, both the passenger variants of the 777X and existing VIP 777-200LRs already have very impressive ranges. However, the proposed BBJ 777X will blow these out of the water.
The larger BBJ 777-9 comfortably outranks all of these aircraft’s already jaw-dropping ranges, clocking in at a monumental 20,370 km (11,000 NM). However, the smaller BBJ 777-8 is set to produce even more impressive performance figures, facilitating non-stop flights of up to 21,570 km (11,645 NM). Boeing states that this makes it the “longest-range business jet ever,” rendering the BBJ 777X a plane that “can connect virtually any two cities in the world.”
A spacious interior
In addition to its impressive range, the BBJ 777X will have an impressively spacious cabin. This will measure 302.5 square meters on the 777-8, and 342.7 square meters on the 777-9. The sheer size of its interior means that the aircraft “opens up almost unlimited interior design options to ensure ultimate comfort for long-distance travel,” particularly on the 777-9.
Regarding the luxurious cabin of this ‘flying mansion,’ Boeing added that:
“To demonstrate the versatility of the airplane’s spacious cabin, BBJ unveiled interior concepts from three leading design firms: Greenpoint Technologies, Jet Aviation, and Unique Aircraft Design. Each concept shows how the BBJ 777X can be transformed to suit the tastes of any VIP customer.”
How much will it cost?
Of course, such luxury does not come cheap. According to Forbes, the list price for the BBJ 777X at the time of its announcement was either $442.8 million (for the smaller BBJ 777-8) or $453.6 million (for the larger 777-9). What’s more, these figures reportedly don’t include the cost of fitting the plane’s luxurious interior, which itself can be $90 million to $175 million.
Even without the cost of fitting the interior, these prices represent a markup compared to the standard, passenger-carrying 777X models. Indeed, Simple Flying explored the list prices of Boeing aircraft in January, with the larger 777-9 coming in at $442.2 million. Meanwhile, Boeing lists the smaller 777-8 at $410.2 million.
Of course, in practice, aircraft generally sell for far less than their list prices. Indeed, Airbus reported in 2019 that its customers received an average discount of around 50%. However, VIP customers are unlikely to buy in bulk in the same way that airlines do, meaning that their discount might be comparatively minimal. As such, while the BBJ 777X will undoubtedly be a stunning aircraft, this rare type will stay in the exclusive domain of the super-rich.
Do you like the sound of the Boeing 777X business jet? Have you ever seen, or even flown on, any of Boeing’s other ‘BBJ’ aircraft? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.