Boeing's luxury offices in the sky

By Edward Falzon, CNNGo.comUpdated 2nd November 2011
Donald Trump seems to have hit hard times. The unfortunate fellow has been forced to buy a second-hand 757 from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen for a paltry $100 million -- though he did then coat every metal surface in gold.
But had he been feeling really extravagant, he could have thrown the kids' inheritance at a Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) with a new MAX engine -- the latest technological jump from the company that recently unveiled the 747-8, their largest offering to-date and the longest commercial jet in the world.
Boeing Business Jets -- the division dedicated to pimping out their commercial airliners and selling them to embarrassingly rich people -- has taken this beast under its wing.
The 747-8 Intercontinental is the latest, longest and about the most expensive corporate jet in the world -- a shiny new, "green" (empty) 747-8 will set you back $300 million, but with a VIP fit-out the figure is closer to $500 million.
But what else is there out there for those with a few hundred million to splash?
The jet set
The traditional Boeing Business Jets are the 700-, 800- and 900ER-series 737s at 34 meters, 40 meters and 42 meters long. You'll pay up to $115 million for the largest of these.
At the top end of the line is the superlative-filled super-jumbo.
A touch over 76 meters long, the 747-8i VIP also boasts a cabin 6.1 meters wide, dwarfing the BBJ's (only the 737s are referred to as "BBJs" -- all other models are "VIP") 3.5 meters, and it has up to 525 square meters of floor-space -- two or three times the size of your average house.
Then there's the latest engine. Boeing recently announced that the "MAX" engine is now available as an option for all new 737 orders for commercial airliners, asserting that it can offer fuel-savings of up to 16 percent over competitors.
"We intend to take advantage of the improved efficiency of the new 737 MAX family for our BBJ product line," says BBJ president Steve Taylor. "We've studied the capabilities of all the MAX variants and of course they offer significant range, economic and environmental benefits over the current line of BBJ products."
Who's buying?
Boeing is tight-lipped about who, exactly, is buying these "flying castles" -- apparently crazy-rich people cherish their anonymity -- but can reveal that almost half of the 206 BBJs and VIPs ordered since their launch in 1996 have gone to private owners, and a third of them have headed for the Middle East.
Trump's "new" 757 is basically a 20-year-old 737, but with a fuselage that's five meters longer. With a poky floor-space of 125 square meters and a range of around 8,000 kilometers, it's a far cry from the 747-8 VIP, whose range is over 17,000 kilometers.
But for the multi-millionaire tech-heads who just have to possess the very latest technology, and you're less concerned about spacious luxury than you are about speed, there's a new corporate jet dubbed the Arion SBJ that'll get you from A to B at Mach 2 for the bargain price of $80 million.
The release date's not set, but pre-orders are now open. The company claims to have $4 billion worth of "letters of intent" for what will no doubt be the gem at every air show for years to come.