I first met Steve Taylor, the President of Boeing Business Jets, during the press conference for the delivery of the first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental. He had to leave half way thought the Q&A, which would be rude for most airline executives, but he had a good reason: he had to fly the plane. Then more recently I was able to chat with him another event and enjoyed our conversation so much that I asked for a follow up interview for the blog and here is that interview:
David Parker Brown (DPB): Who is Steve Taylor?
Steve Taylor (ST): I’m basically a very lucky kid from Kansas who’s landed in a job that allows me lead a great team, selling and supporting a great product while still engaging my passion for flying airplanes. I’m second generation Boeing – my father having been an engineer, test pilot and an executive during his 50 years here and my career has (in many ways) followed along in his footsteps. Like him, I have a background in engineering and flight test and also like him; I continue to fly small airplanes very regularly.
DPB: What aircraft are you currently rated to fly?
ST: I fly small airplanes for fun and fly big airplanes at work whenever the opportunity arises. I’m rated for single and multi-engine land airplanes; single engine seaplanes; Boeing 737, 747, 757, 767, 777 and 787 as well as Bombardier Challenger 604 and Dassault Falcon 10. I maintain my currency on the Boeing airplanes as well as several light airplanes and I use my FAA Airframe and Powerplant Mechanics license to work on those light airplanes as well.
DPB: Which aircraft do you enjoy flying the most?
ST: There’s a saying among pilots that our favorite airplane is always the one that we are currently flying and I must say that there’s a lot of truth in the comment. With that said, the 787 is the nicest handling airplane I’ve ever flown and it is a real joy to fly. The 747-8 is very special to fly because it is so majestic and the 737 is the most comfortable for me personally because I’ve flown it so much. Nonetheless, I’m happy to fly any airplane, any time.
DPB: Where do you sleep during long flights where no seats/crew rests are installed?
ST: Thankfully, all of the seats and accommodations on the flight deck are installed here at Boeing before delivery. In the case of the 747-8, that includes four seats and two crew bunks in the flight deck, so we have all the same amenities available that airline flight crews typically enjoy with the notable exception of a galley, so we have to be a little bit clever with our catering. It is perhaps a bit ironic that when we deliver what will be one of the most luxurious aircraft in the air, we’re frequently carrying a thermos for our coffee and box lunches for our meals. The configuration of the green airplane with no passenger seats does lead to some interesting conversations when you think about a ’œBoeing four-seater’, but all of us want to be on the flight deck anyway, so we find ways to make it work.
DPB: Are the bathrooms already installed?
ST: Yes, all of our ’œgreen’ airplanes include at least one lavatory. In the case of the 747-8, there’s even a lavatory forward of the flight deck security door which is a feature that has been a big plus for our airline customers.
DPB: Who are the type of customers that order a BBJ?
ST: There are really quite a variety of BBJ customers, but they primarily fall into three camps: Corporations, Wealthy Individuals and Heads of State. Our corporate customers are mostly very large, multi-national corporations who see the benefits of our airplanes for transporting teams around the globe. With the high-speed data systems that are now typical on all BBJ’s, our customers can make productive use of the time aboard our airplanes. When combined with the amenities and comfort available, they can do more business in more places more quickly.
Our wealthy individual customers share a similar need for productivity – they tend to be very entrepreneurial individuals whose time is incredibly valuable.
The Head of State clients are as varied as the nations they lead, but they share a need to transport large teams reliably, safely and securely. Most of those airplanes have a configuration that addresses the broad needs of a Head of State, so they typically have seating for security teams and other support people.
We also have a few customers who operate their BBJ’s on Charter certificates providing ’œon-demand’ type of service. Those airplanes are typically configured to support the sort of clients most prevalent in their regions. For example, the Middle East charter airplanes are typically configured to support Head of State type clients
DPB: Besides the 737 VIP, which is the most popular BBJ?
ST: The 737 based BBJ is obviously the product that brought Boeing into the business jet market and since we started this venture 16+ years ago, we’ve sold 156 of them. In addition to those, Boeing has sold a dozen 787’s, nine 747-8’s, eight 767’s, five 777’s, five 757’s and a handful of 747-400s and ’œnon-BBJ’ 737’s to VIP customers.
DPB: Any news on the 748I becoming the new Air Force One?
ST: Boeing is in ongoing discussions as to what the customer requirements are and how best we can meet them, but nothing other than that to report.
DPB: How does one go about ordering a BBJ?
ST: We have a team of BBJ Sales Directors who work directly with our clients. Each client has unique requirements, so each campaign is different, depending on the client’s requirements.
DPB: Are there customers for 787 test aircraft ZA004, ZA005 and ZA006? When will the first 787 VIP deliver?
ST: Yes, there’s a lot of interest in the market for those airplanes. We’ve already sold ZA006 to an undisclosed customer and we are working several prospects for the remaining two. The first BBJ 787 is scheduled for delivery at the end of this year and there are several BBJ 787 deliveries in 2014, so we are very busy now working with our partners in the Completion business to ensure that we have provided them with the engineering data to support the VIP conversions.
|This story written by…David Parker Brown, Editor & Founder.
David started AirlineReporter.com in the summer of 2008, but has had a passion for aviation since he was a kid. Born and raised in the Seattle area (where he is currently based) has surely had an influence and he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else in the world.