The government of Qatar has divested two opulently-configured VVIP 747s in recent years, a 747SP model that got sold to CSDS Asset Management in 2018 and a 747-8i Boeing Business Jet, or BBJ, that ended up effectively gifted to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that same year. Now another luxurious Qatari VVIP 747-8i BBJ, with fewer than 1,100 total flight hours on the airframe and under 300 cycles on each of its four GE Aviation GEnx-2B67/P engines, has hit the open market. It is without question among the most, if not the most, expensive and opulent aircraft on the market and one of the most incredible luxury aircraft ever built.
UPDATE NOTE: All listing photos have been removed from this article at the request of a party associated with the aircraft's broker. You can see all of them for yourself in the public listings and associated documents linked here, here, and here.
This particular 747-8i, which has the Boeing serial number 37075 and rolled off the assembly line in Everett, Washington in 2012, is presently at AMAC Aerospace Switzerland AG's facility in Basel, Switzerland. AMAC Aerospace was responsible for outfitting the aircraft with its custom interior, which took nearly two years to complete, according to the company's records.
In 2015, this aircraft entered service with the Qatar Amiri Flight, which is technically a division of the country's flag carrier Qatar Airways that serves the Qatari Royal Families and other top government officials. A 2019 story from FlightGlobal indicates that this particular aircraft, which carried the Qatari registration A7-HBJ, was set aside for "executive" VIPs outside of Qatar's ruling House of Al Thani.
In its primary configuration, this aircraft has a crew of 18 and can carry 89 passengers, a relatively small number compared to the 400 or so people that a 747-8i configured as a typical three-class airliner can accommodate. AMAC also says this aircraft can also fly in a medical configuration with its master bedroom transformed into a Patient Transport Unit, perhaps a more significant selling point in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With a master bedroom, guest bedroom, grand staircase, living rooms, private offices and lounges, general lounges, fully stocked galleys, and more, the art deco-inspired and somewhat timeless interior of this aircraft is extremely lavish, to say the least. However, it is a bit more conservative, at least in color palette, than the interior of the ex-Qatari 747-8i BBJ that flew around members of the Qatari Royal Family and is now in service with the Turkish government.
Just some of the aircraft's features and amenities are listed below. You can find a full breakdown of what the plane has to offer as well as additional pictures in the listing brochure linked here.
- Insulation blankets installed which provides thermal insulation and noise attenuation functions.
- Zone I and Zone II have 50 dB +/-2dB, Zone III (aft lounge) and Zone IV (upper deck lounge) have 52 dB +/-2dB.
- Electric Window shades and Roman shades are installed.
- Portable fire extinguishers are installed throughout in the interior of the aircraft.
- Anti-intrusion system is installed which provide highly reliable aircraft intrusion monitoring for the unattended aircraft.
- Water system installed to provide hot and cold portable water to each galley sink, each lavatory sink, bidet, hand sprayer and showers, cold water to the lavatory toilets and cold water to humidification system.
- Digital IFE system from PGA with Audio/Video On Demand (AVOD) / Digital Rights Management (DRM) and Game
- Five (5) GES (Global Entertainment Servers) connected in series via Ethernet, to store and manage the distribution of AVOD audio/video and/or audio only media. Each GES can manage up to 20 AVOD clients.
- Main sources & components
- Camera systems (video only)
- IPod / HD port (audio/video) HDMI/USB/IPod/RCA
- 13 Blu-ray players (audio/video)
- AVOD system (audio/video)
- Airshow Moving map (video only)
- Live TV/radio (audio/video).
- Moving Map (Airshow)
- HD Cameras (FWD CAM, DN ZOOM) and Quad cam in anti-intrusion system
- Passenger Address (PA) System
- 55” monitor X 5
- 46” monitor X 4
- 40” monitor X 1
- 32” monitor X 1
- 17.3” VTS Monitor X 2
- 15.6” VTS Monitor X 31
- IFE speakers
- Headphone jack plugs
- Cabin Management System with Five (5) 15.6” CMS VTS
- GCS Panasonic eXConnect Ku-band system provides broadband internet connectivity as well as eXTV global television service.
- Honeywell JetWave Ka-band connectivity system is also installed.
- Honeywell CX900 router makes it possible to provide fall back option in case one of the connectivity system is not available, in sequence of Ka, Ku and SBB system.
The Qatari Royal Family's decision to get rid of the other 747-8i BBJ two years ago was initially unclear. It later became apparent that they had given it to Turkey as a reward of sorts in light of Ankara's support of the House of Al Thani amid a still-ongoing political spat with a number of other countries, chiefly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
It's not clear why the Qatar Amiri Flight is now getting rid of 37075, though it still has two other 747-8i BBJs in service. The country's authorities had previously sold another one of the Flight's 747-8i BBJ to the Moroccan government in 2010. At present, the Qatari Amiri Flight also has a number of widebody Airbus A340s and A330s, as well as narrowbody A319s and A320s.
It's also worth noting that the ex-Qatari 747SP, which CSDS has now put back on the market, as well as the 747-8i BBJ now in service in Turkey, had been registered in Bermuda and were not technically part of the Qatar Amiri Flight, though they did belong to the Qatari Royal Family.
In addition, in September 2019, the U.S. government approved the sale of two AN/AAQ-24(V) Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) systems to Qatar, specifically to equip two 747-800-series "Head-of-State aircraft," indicating that the country's authorities plan to retain the remaining pair of Jumbo Jets for the foreseeable future. The AN/AAQ-24(V) is a directional infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) system intended to defeat incoming heat-seeking missiles, which you can read about in more detail in this past War Zone piece.
The listing for 37075 on Controller.com says you have to contact them to negotiate the price. Even for the richest people on earth, an aircraft like this would be a substantial investment. A "green" 747-8i, meaning it's not outfitted for service of any kind, which may not even be available to buy new from Boeing for much longer, has run roughly $370 million in the past. However, the interior of this particular example, which is one of the most incredible custom jobs we have ever seen, can cost the price of a converted airliner business jet in itself. That's to say nothing of the annual operating costs that would have to be associated with this flying superyacht.
With the 747-8i production line now in terminal status, the last of the Jumbo Jets will become more scarce, especially the few that have been produced as Boeing Business Jets. The 747-8i represents the largest aircraft on earth that has been fully configured for VIP transport. Currently, two 747-8is are being deeply modified to serve as the replacements for the two aging VC-25A Air Force One jets that are based on the 747-200 variant.
So, if you are one of the very few people or institutions on earth that can afford to own and operate one of the most incredible of flying palaces ever created, check out AMAC's listing and give them a ring to see if this rare bird could become yours.
Contact the authors: Joe@thedrive.com and Tyler@thedrive.com