The Best of the Best 2003: Business Jets

<< Back to Robb Report, June 2003
  • Fluto Shinzawa

The Boeing Business Jet carries out its primary mission superbly. The $45 million aircraft cruises at 541 mph, has a range of more than 7,000 miles, and can transport as many as 50 passengers. However, the BBJ’s hallmark is its ability to perform just as well as a full-scale, fully equipped mobile office or as a luxurious airborne pied-à-terre.

Boeing delivers “green” BBJs (spartan models without any avionics or interior features) to its completion centers, where the transformation from flying tube to mile-high palace begins. Companies such as Germany’s Lufthansa Technik outfit the BBJs according to owners’ specifications, building luxurious eight-passenger VIP configurations or more traditional row-by-row seating. The BBJ can include an executive suite with a queen-size bed and a private bathroom and shower, eliminating any concerns about cramped and sleepless intercontinental flights.

However, corporations shuttling executives from one meeting to another expect in-flight productivity. Connexion by Boeing, a branch of the parent corporation, can equip the BBJ with a high-speed Internet connection that includes access to your company network. “It’s better than the DSL experience for a customer in the cabin,” says Stan Deal, Connexion’s director of sales. “It will be unrestricted access to the web for our customers, and access to your own network secured through encryption. That’s powerful when you think about a business traveler on a commercial airplane.”

Only jets larger than the Boeing 737 can accommodate Connexion’s equipment. “Many corporate users and heads of state realized that you need to be connected wherever you are,” says Deal. “A head of a corporation has to defend the purchase of a business jet, and this feature really provides a powerful point for you to use to justify having a business jet as a tool to be more effective.”

The aircraft can also include fax and videoconferencing capabilities, but a business flight aboard a BBJ doesn’t have to be all work and no play. Connexion and Lufthansa Technik can wire the BBJ for satellite television from DirecTV, Echostar, BSkyB, and other providers, while plasma TVs and LCD screens can be placed on bulkheads and in seat backs. A recently delivered BBJ even includes a small gym for its passengers to use. After all, a relaxed and refreshed CEO can seal a deal much more effectively than a harried and travel-worn counterpart.

“The BBJ is not just a transportation tool,” says Deal. “It is a tool to make an executive more productive while in flight.”

Boeing, 206.655.9800, www.boeing.com

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