Cool Concept: Special Nike Boeing 787 For Athletes

Filed Under: Misc.

Here’s a really cool concept that will almost certainly never see the light of day…

Boeing 787 designed specially for athletes

Professional athletes travel quite a bit, and the logistics of that can be complicated. Teams travel with a lot of people, and more often than not they charter planes.

Well, Nike and Teague have partnered to design a plane for athletes, and specifically for a basketball team. This is based on a Boeing 787. As it turns out this design was revealed a while back, though I missed it, so I wanted to cover it now.

Nike and Teague conducted interviews with team physicians, coachers, operations staff, and sleep specialists, in order to come up with this concept. Their conclusion is that busy schedules and travel by air is a fact of life for athletes, but it comes at a steep price — injuries and suboptimal performance.

Based on that, design efforts were focused on four areas of performance innovation that are not addressed by commercial charters:

  • Recovery: Equalizing the negative effects of air travel on the mind and body; bringing the training room to the sky through in-flight biometrics and analysis to accelerate injury diagnosis and treatment.
  • Circulation: Fostering natural mobility by building in equipment that ensures optimal circulation and promotes healing.
  • Sleep: Designing ideal sleeping conditions for individuals and sleep strategies for entire teams to maximize physical readiness.
  • Thinking: Creating spaces for key mental activities and enabling in-transit film review both before and after games.

Here are some pictures of the prototype plane interior:

And here’s a video of the cabin:

Suffice to say that if this concept ever came to fruition, this would be one of the spiffiest planes in the sky. What an incredible interior!

Could we ever actually see a plane like this?

As an aircraft interior nerd this plane looks unreal. I’d obviously love to see something like this flying one day, not that we’d ever actually get to redeem miles for it. 😉

That being said, I think it’s highly unlikely a plane like this will ever actually be viable:

  • For the most part sports teams charter planes rather than owning them, since in many cases it’s more economical
  • If a sports team were to buy a plane, it’s much more likely they’d get a used 767 or 777 that costs a fraction of what you’d pay for a new 787
  • In addition to the cost of a new 787, I have to imagine a customized interior like this would easily add tens of millions of dollars to the price tag, if not more
  • While the concept of maximizing rest sounds great, for the most part these charter flights are just a few hours, so it’s not like there’s a huge opportunity to get rest anyway

Just to give an example of a team that did buy a plane, back in 2017 the New England Patriots bought a pair of 767s for around $10 million. This made sense, since the team was apparently otherwise spending about $4 million per season on charters.

I totally get the economics could work out of buying a used plane, but there’s a difference between spending about $5 million for one plane, and spending $200+ million.

Nike and Teague argue that getting a plane like this could be a good investment as a way to attract talent:

“Every professional team is focused on attracting the best players and getting the best performance out of those players. Modern weight rooms, better playing surfaces, and cutting-edge rehabilitation spaces all contribute to this. But something obvious is missing: investments in how professional sports teams travel. So we collaborated with researchers, strategists, and designers at Nike to develop a highly customized Boeing 787 Dreamliner interior, crafted to cater to professional athletes during their time on the road.”

There’s no doubt that this would be cool and any athlete would love to be in a plane like this, but is that worth hundreds of millions of dollars?

Not surprisingly the concept has garnered press coverage, and apparently there has also been “interest from around the world, from both individual teams and entire leagues alike.” Whether or not there will be any customers remains to be seen…

Bottom line

Nike and Teague have partnered to design a Boeing 787 specifically for a basketball team. While the concept is super cool, I think it’s highly unlikely we’ll ever see a plane like this flying.

Most sports teams currently charter planes, and even if they were to outright buy a plane, they could get a used wide body plane for a tiny fraction of the cost of this decked out Boeing 787.

Ultimately this seems like a project designed to generate publicity for the creativity of Nike and Teague, rather than something that will actually happen…

What do you think — will we ever see the Nike 787 flying?

  1. How about an airline buying one and chartering it to sports teams?
    Suppose an airline charges 50% extra for this plane – if it really gets athletes to their destination in better shape teams will pay.

    This would be much more economical than a team buying one, but I guess still not enough.

  2. Most NBA teams currently use a fleet of charter-configured Delta 757s that are shared. A few teams have their own planes, the Mavericks have a 767 for example.

    This is a huge upgrade from even a decade ago when many teams used their own planes or scattered charter services. Some used old 727s, others used old 737-200s and DC-9s and they couldn’t make it from the East Coast to the West without refueling. The Chicago Bulls of the 90s splurged on chartered MGM Air 727s.

    Back then the idea of flying 757s would’ve sounded over the top. So anything is possible. But for something like this I suspect 2 things would have to be true: 1. It’s a used plane that is reconfigured. 2. It’s for use in the event pro sports teams in the US expand overseas to Europe or China and the plane is used for those trips. That was a conversation a few years ago, seems laughable now, but who knows in the future.

  3. I’d be curious to see what configurations pro basketball teams use on their charters today. Some rosters have their shortest guy at 6’6’’ and the “tall players” go north of 7’. So comfort, circulation, etc. has to be a concern. Then again, basketball only goes on seasonally, so if you are a charter it is tough to justify a special Configuration For basketball when the rest of the year you fly shorter people around. I’d agree a cheap old widebody owned outright could be the way to go for a team…but probably tough to find one that isn’t coming up on a D-check.

  4. I would say now would be the time to get a 787 for such a plane. Given the collapse of long haul air travel there are airlines and lessors that would take pennies on the dollar just to get money flowing in. And although the concept was designed for the 787, I could see some variations of the design coming to a 767 or 777 acquired on the secondary market with all the retirements.

  5. “While the concept of maximizing rest sounds great, for the most part these charter flights are just a few hours, so it’s not like there’s a huge opportunity to get rest anyway”… Of course now you’re a sports specialist and medical doctor… You’re only fly for FUN… Imagine a person that has a real job and has to use his body at work… Any rest is better than nothing…

  6. For American teams, I do agree though that their rest is limited on the majority of flights for these teams. The longest is the occasional cross-country flight.

    I could see this making more sense for European soccer (excuse me, football) clubs who do take a few more longer flights for international competition such as Champions League, club world cup, friendly’s, etc. Plus they have significantly deeper pockets to make it more viable.

  7. I think a big part of the 787 versus a 767/777 is the fact that when pressurized, the 787 feels more like one is at 6000 ft above sea level, versus 8000 ft for the 767/777. That’s a huge difference, especially when we’re talking about a major focus of this plane being able to allow world-class athletes better recovery from travel.

  8. This concept serves as a reminder that the very wealthy folks who own their own private widebodies generally choose the same boring interior decor and features that are found on smaller private jets instead of spending just a little more to have something truly special.

    Although there are some specific features here unique to the needs of professional athletes, a lot of the design ideas could translate to a very pleasant personal jet instead of a very expensive motorhome.

  9. If there was a Hawaiian pro team, I could see that this would be much more feasible for them. The economics of such a plane might work though if the costs were somewhat comparable for a charter or that you could utilize it enough to keep it economical. If there was only one, would be hard, since NFL plays mostly Sundays. Other leagues have more throughout the week but the seasons ebb and flow. Lots of 777 and 747s on the market right now!

  10. I could see Nike owning one, contracting the operation of it with an airline or charter company, and then offering it up as either a paid charter or “free” promo for their sponsored teams and partners for big events.

    Think things like their premier teams, World Cups, Australian open, Olympics, National Championships and other playoff games, etc. Each time it’s used it would likely garner a lot of “free media” and good graces with the athletes & teams with whom they partner.

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