Turning a Boeing 747-8 into the world's largest private jet

Take a look inside one of the world's largest private aircraft – the bespoke Boeing Business Jet 747-8i.

By Brandon Loo, May 27 2020
Turning a Boeing 747-8 into the world's largest private jet

What's more eye-catching than the stretched Boeing 747-8, which is an even bigger version of the iconic Boeing 747? A bespoke Boeing 747-8 that's been turned into a private jet.

Feted French design firm Cabinet Alberto Pinto was entrusted with a nose-to-tail fitout of a Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) 747-8i privately owned by a wealthy Middle Eastern businessman – and according to Yves Pickardt, who heads the VIP Aircraft team at Alberto Pinto, it was a "designer's dream come true."

A private Boeing 747-8i jet, with interiors designed by Cabinet Alberto Pinto.
A private Boeing 747-8i jet, with interiors designed by Cabinet Alberto Pinto.

“The owner gave us carte blanche," Pickardt told Altitudes Magazine. "He wasn’t looking for anything outrageously luxurious, with gold and diamonds. On the contrary, he called for some simplicity, which in the end is indeed the true luxury.".

A home away from home, in the sky

This particular living room is found upstairs, in the 'hump' of the BBJ 747-8i.
This particular living room is found upstairs, in the 'hump' of the BBJ 747-8i.

Nestled in the nose of the jumbo jet, directly under the cockpit and away from the engines, lies the master bedroom. The occupants will feel at home with touches such as a full-size bed, storage spaces, reading lights and a master bathroom with a walk-in shower.

The master bedroom (L) and bathroom (R) is found in the nose of the plane.
The master bedroom (L) and bathroom (R) is found in the nose of the plane.

Moving further towards the back, the space opens out to what might just be the centrepiece of the whole jet – a cavernous living area perfect for hosting guests or just kicking back. For more intimate discussions, paired leather seats offer more privacy along the sides of the hallway.

There are many different living and seating areas onboard.
There are many different living and seating areas onboard.

Many rooms are multi-purpose to make the most of the 420 sqm floor space available. For instance, this private office can also double as a dinner table for four. Towards the rear are additional seats for staff and other guests, as required.

Even the back of the jet has a spacious business-class standard cabin.
Even the back of the jet has a spacious business-class standard cabin.

Ultimately, the owner wanted the jet to feel 'like a family home'. Pickardt describes the style they went for as 'soft modern, which is somehow quite classical'.

"We used only noble materials, all of the best quality available of course, such as wood (African Wakapou and Sycamore), stone, wool and silk fabrics, natural leathers," he said.

Boeing's exclusive club

While owning a private jet is undoubtedly a status symbol, carrying the keys of a BBJ 747-8i is in a whole other league. Less than 10 private jets the size of a Boeing 747 are currently active – after all, the costs involved with flying a plane of this size are astronomical.

More glimpses inside a private BBJ 747-8i.
More glimpses inside a private BBJ 747-8i.

“Such a project is a dream come true that happens only once or twice in a designer’s lifetime. In a way, this is a landmark in aviation history,” adds Yves Pickardt.

Also read: The half-century history of Qantas' Boeing 747s

Brandon Loo

Based in Perth, Brandon enjoys tucking into local delicacies, discovering new cocktails, and making aeroplane food look good on camera.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Mar 2015

Total posts 151

The Sultan of Brunei has or had a B747-400 for a long time now.

The inside was unbelievably luxurious and gold plated taps and fittings everywhere, even the cutlery was gold plated.

Hugely expensive.

His other VIP aircraft cost more to fit out than did the basic aeroplane cost from Airbus and Boeing.

It used to take 12 months minimum to do the interior.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1213

It's all so... sepia. Doesn't say luxurious to me.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 255

It's a bespoke mode of exclusive transport, not a Versace resort for goodness sake. I think it's perfect.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Mar 2015

Total posts 151

The B747 depicted looks very nice but certainly not spectacular.

In stark contrast the Sultan's B747 was incredibly spectacular and luxurious.

Either way wouldn't it be nice to be able to afford one and have the money to operate it??

13 Feb 2015

Total posts 58

I've always been curious as to why the interiors of private jets (and luxury boats for that matter) always seem to use high gloss materials. Seems pretty gauche to me...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Jan 2017

Total posts 75

Can't see a seat belt anywhere except the rear cabin for entourage?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 255

I think you'll find they're flexible reading lights.

P1
P1

24 Apr 2017

Total posts 46

For that sort of money, I'd be fitting out a nice quiet A380, with better climate and atmospheric control too!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Apr 2017

Total posts 24

Guessing that the A380 option would greatly limit the number of airports you could easily use around the world. Presume also that extra sound-proofing in the 747 cabin could be installed in this private model... above what we get in the commercial sky-bus variants :)

30 May 2018

Total posts 26

American private jet interiors always seem to have 1950's barber's chairs and the interior design sense of a nouveau riche Mid-Western suburban home, a sort of Kansas City McMansion - truly appalling.

Please send it to a European design house.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Sep 2012

Total posts 25

@OzGlobal maybe you missed this at the beginning of the article? "Feted French design firm Cabinet Alberto Pinto was entrusted with a nose-to-tail fitout"

12 Jun 2020

Total posts 1

Albert Pinto is a FRENCH design firm.

30 May 2018

Total posts 26

I did miss that, but the sentence finishes with who the customer is and presumably that explains a lot of the design choices.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Mar 2015

Total posts 151

In fact the B747-400 is not the largest Private Jet in the world .

There is an A380 fitted out for Prince Al-Waleed of Saudi Arabia for a mere $500 USD.

Exceptionally lavish interior which is mainly yellow colour to represent gold.

Lots of gold plated fittings well, the Sultan of Brunei had gold plated cutlery plus lots of gold fittings everywhere.

Oh how the ultra rich can live!!!!


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Mar 2018

Total posts 14

This is why we pay so much at the bowser! <shields up>

02 Nov 2017

Total posts 4

Undoubtedly luxurious but so passé. Like a 90s Ritz Carlton. I'd have gone for Philippe Stark interiors.

30 May 2018

Total posts 26

Glad I'm not the only one to think so. Philippe Stark or that Swiss private jet design firm would do a good job. This is so heavy, loud and dated, as you say. Less is more in a context like this.

I wondered about seat belts as well and also about the book cases--do they have doors? I wouldn't like to be near them if the books came flying out in turbulence.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Mar 2018

Total posts 14

You don't think these books are there for reading, do you? Looks like books-by-the-metre decorating.


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