Boeing [NYSE: BA] unveiled the 717 Business Express, the newest variant of the Boeing 717-200, today at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, or EBACE 2003. Boeing is discussing the airplane with corporate customers as a new business travel solution.
"The Boeing 717 Business Express is a new concept for corporations to help deal with high-volume business travel," said Thad Dworkin, sales director, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "A company with significant and regular employee movement between two or more key business facilities would be a candidate for a 717 Business Express airplane."
The 717 Business Express is designed to provide corporate employees with more productive space and improved use of travel time compared to typical business travel . The airplane can be configured to seat from 40 to 80 passengers in first- and/or business-class comfort.
Additionally, the airplane can be equipped with airborne workstations, meeting spaces, videoconferencing capability and full broadband connectivity -- using Connexion by Boeing -- depending on the needs of the owner.
"The key element here is optimizing capital, people and time," Dworkin said. "This airplane can save significant time in the travel process, which will reduce many of the hard costs of air travel -- air fare, hotels, food and entertainment -- as well as the 'soft' costs -- time spent in transit, at terminals, waiting at the gate, delays at baggage claim and waiting to get a taxi or rental car."
A key element of the 717 Business Express Program is a customer support package that will be part of the airplane purchase. Tailored to meet the needs of the corporate airplane operator, the package will provide such features as training, field support, a spares kit, ground-support equipment, emergency assistance and warranty. An additional supplemental support package also is available as an option.
"We envision several business arrangements that will allow corporations to enjoy the benefits of the 717 Business Express," Dworkin said. "A company can have direct sole ownership, partner with other corporations to share ownership, enter a leasing agreement or partner with an airline, in which the airline would operate the airplane for the corporate owner."
The Boeing 717 is a proven performer, ideally suited to business express operations. It combines high efficiency, reliability and easy maintenance with low operating costs, breakthrough simplicity, reduced noise and emissions and big jetliner comfort.
Its original design is easily augmented with additional fuel tanks that give the airplane up to 3,140 nautical miles (5,815 kilometers) while carrying 60 passengers.
The ability of the 717 to use smaller, less-congested, secondary airports also is important, allowing for lower airport use fees and enabling the business traveler to avoid the crowds of primary hub airports.
Through the highly successful Boeing Business Jet (BBJ), Boeing has gained a strong understanding of the corporate aviation market that can easily be applied to the 717 Business Express. The new program complements the BBJ within the market segment by providing an additional solution that meets the customer need for domestic shuttle service.
Boeing either can deliver a "green" airplane -- one without a finished passenger cabin -- and work with established completion centers to facilitate the outfitting of the interior, or provide a turnkey program in which Boeing will manage the completion.