airliner designs

May 11, 2017

Nice graphic but no decisions, new Boeing shadow boxing resumes

With so much hint dropping going on about a Boeing 797 the Paris Air Show can't be too far away

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

[caption id="attachment_62421" align="aligncenter" width="610"] Could this be the Boeing 797?[/caption] If the future of new airliner designs was decided by neat artist impressions like the one shown above, the next Boeing jet airliner would be piling up hundreds of orders by now. But hold the enthusiasm. Jets aren't bought on their appearances, and whatever it is that the good people at Boeing might do with the interminably discussed new medium airliner, or middle of the market airliner, or 797, or whatever they might call it, it will be totally stuffed  by airlines that buy it with tiny seats too small for pre-teenagers. We find ourselves in an air transport world where aesthetics, and amenity, count for nothing. This analysis by Leeham News and Comment, which is also the source of the graphic, pulls together all the hints that are being dropped by Boeing and Airbus as to what the US plane maker might do to end the sales supremacy of the A321 NEO over the largest 'real' Boeing alternative, the 737 MAX 9, and its 'offerable' extension, a MAX 10 no-one has officially ordered as yet. The headline 'How Airbus can kill the Boeing 797' is fair enough, although the report also shows how Boeing could at least claw back some ground by actually doing something convincing before the European consortium makes its move. On its record, things do not look good for Boeing. Everything it has said about dealing with the new tech version of the Airbus single aisle family this century has been all huff and no puff. Of particular interest is the new suggestion in the Leeham report that Airbus might upgrade the A321 NEO with a carbon fibre wing. Which, in a few words, is what Boeing is doing (and more) to its 777 family with the 777-X series.  We await the inevitable revelation that Airbus might also give it folding wingtips, so that an A321 NEO Double Plus or whatever it decides to call it can fly 160 passengers non-stop between Adelaide and, let's take a guess, Atlanta. Hourly. Boeing hasn't said very much about what a 797 might be like inside, but some of the graphics that surfaced from a coffee shop near Renton last year implied it could offer a seven across economy seating cabin just like the much missed 767 family, which was so brutally killed off by the A330s. That would be every standard adult sized passenger's dream.  However it is a case of 'dream on' as shown by the fate of civilised seating proposals for the Boeing 787 Dreamliners  which were turned into something  far less amenable by lifting the seating geometry from eight to nine across. It's barely a month before this year's Paris Air Show. Expect many more stories like this as to what either planemaker might do to the other.

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

28 thoughts on “Nice graphic but no decisions, new Boeing shadow boxing resumes

  1. Dan Dair

    Until I see it flying, I’m simply not going to believe it.!

  2. Dan Dair

    and another thing……
    Why is it a 7 NINE 7.??

    Why can’t it be a 7 FIVE 7, since that the aircraft & the market sector this aircraft is designed to replace.?

    Or is it a tacit admission that by the time that Boeing have built this aircraft,
    they’ll have run out of numbers
    & ideas
    & finances
    so they won’t need any new aircraft model numbers anyway.?

  3. ghostwhowalksnz

    LNR has been saying a new Boeing will be announced ‘ soon’ for about 3 years now.
    Ben has more properly linked the speculation with the upcoming Paris airshow where the juggling acts are just as entertaining as the planes.
    Preliminary design people will be working on new projects or revisions to existing ones all the time. Its what they do.
    My speculation, which is worth nothing of course, sees the best new move being done by Embraer announcing it will build under license as a 190/230 seater the Irkut Mc-21. ( First flight next few months?)
    This brings together new technology in ‘no autoclaves- no worries’ carbon fibre wings, GTF turbo fans along with a reliable support manufacturing company . But that of course is just for the speculation season.

  4. ggm

    There is a mandated toilet count per seat.
    There is mandated exit count per seat.
    There is mandated staff per seat.
    There is mandated O2 level. A mandated requirement for food and water beyond certain length of flight. There are any number of internationally enforced mandated requirements.

    There is no sense in claiming that requirements cannot be borne, or cannot be stated up front, and applied industry wide.

    Why is there no mandated minimum seat pitch, and effective density? Because no airline wants to jump first to admit it would work, when they can all exploit (at our expense) re-densifying product as new seat technology emerges IRRESPECTIVE of what we think about it.

    Because we’re sheeple. We don’t vote for governments who want to act on this, because we prefer cheap and painful.

    in other words: its our fault. if we want mandated seat pitch and density, we have to vote people into power, who will act on that wish.

    1. Jacob HSR

      I voted for Gillard after she said “I do not want a big (overpopulated) Australia”.

      But she did not cut the immigration rate at all.

      So the issue is that politicians are corrupt, pathological liars, and just plain stupid.

      1. Tango

        As usual the US has topped the world, but not in a good way.

        We have re-defined the standard for what it really means to be both pathological and liar.

        Count your blessings with the lower achievers.

  5. Deano DD

    Boeing have built MOM before 757 767
    The 767 is still in production but only as a freighter
    A NEO with perhaps a new wing and slightly longer version would be quicker to make and easier to design that a start from scratch solution
    The 2-3-2 seating was among the best ever offered by any manufacturer and the cargo capacity was excellent
    Only drawback is that if it was re-launched it would likely be configured as a single isle with 4-4 seating
    Boeing already has the 787 that competes somewhat with the a330 which would be a beautiful aircraft with 2-4-2 seating
    And the constant lengthening of the 737 has killed off a return of the 757

    But I do ask why the 787 isn’t the MOM they are looking for as it has the seating, the range and the cargo space that should make it a better proposition than the a321
    The 737 Max unfortunately trades seats for range and would not compete with the a321 on long sectors

    1. caf

      You can’t have a block of 4 seats against the side, that’s madness.

      1. Deano DD

        So is 3-3-3 in a 787

        1. ghostwhowalksnz

          Different completely. 3 each window side is normal. 3 in center block with aisles on both sides is Ok too

          1. Tango

            Deano DD:

            While its a good question it boils down to range and weight.

            In short, you have both size for tanks, structure to carry it and engines to lift the weight to get the range.

            Jockeys are handi caped by weight to even out the field.

            But that is slung on weight.

            If the Jockey had to fight the worlds heavyweight fighter at the end of the ride, then a 220 lb jockey would emerge .

            Even a 787 is not light.

            A single aisle is the lighteweit champion as it never will got 8000 nm and its efficient.

            The concept around the MOM is a lightweight, range no more than 5,000 and low cost.

            Like designing tanks, speed, gun and protection. How do you balance all that?

            You can do clever things like have ammo stored exterior with blowout panels, but your hull needs to be able to take a straight on and side shot (as does the turret) of the best the opponent has to offer. You can forget the rear, compromise on it and you can do modern armors methods but its still a log lot weight.

            Aircraft are the same. The single aisles are get out of jail free as they don’t have the demands of long range. Seat per seat they are the lowest cost, as well as BUILD costs.

            The 767 has issues in that its an older design and not light weighted focus.

            A 767NEO (and maybe new wing) would sell some, but it seems not enough.

            The A330NEO has been stuck at 200 sales for a long time. 3 Operators that it works for made the bulk of the purchases.

            The 787 is simply too heavy to be a good 5,000 mile aircraft.

            Japan makes it work inter island, but that is a unique situation in the world with a nation of 4 large Islands that you can’t connect by rail. You can recover the costs of the fare (with dense packing)

            While I don’t know why, the 757 was reputed to be a hard to build aircraft (expensive). Ergo, with the A321, there is not a lot of the original 757 market that is not covered by a cheaper and lower operating cost aircraft.

    2. Dan Dair

      Deano DD,
      The B767 is bigger than the notional MoM sector.
      The B787 was designed to meet the market for a slightly larger B767, running up to a ‘not quite as big as a small B777’.!

      The B757 was the MoM sector standard.
      Unfortunately Boeing might have pulled-it a couple of years before it would have probably started a resurgence in sales….
      and it could have been sitting-pretty now with the newest & most-efficient engines on it.?

  6. J_sh

    “If it’s not Boeing I ain’t going” used to be the saying.
    Now the shoe is on the other foot.

  7. comet

    The 797 looks like a mini 787… the most uncomfortable airliner in the sky today.

    At least with a 737, or an A320, it is always 6-across seating. They can’t squeeze in a 7th seat. But with the 797, they’ll be able to squeeze it as they do on the current 787.

    No doubt, the size of the toilet is also going to shrink in the 797. New models of airliners used to arrive with new levels of passenger comfort. But not any more. There’s nothing to look forward to in any of this.

    1. Zarathrusta

      I imagine there are legal limits on how many people you have to step over to get to the aisle, even if that is just by virtue of a maximum evacuation speed that prevents 4 across seating next to a window.

  8. MikeofPerth

    Good article. I have been thinking lately that the Boeing MOM aircraft is likely to be a 2 – 3 – 2 config but tighter than the 767 due to a slimmer fuselage.

    I don’t think Boeing is considering this aircraft just to compete with the Airbus A321LR and provide a true replacement for the 757. If that was the case they would be throwing more money at the 737 to squeeze what is left out of that design, thereby biding it time to just replace it with a new narrow body family.

    I think this is also about continuing the evolution and expansion of point to point travel. So think city pairs that are too big to support a 787-8 but too far apart for a narrowbody to service.

    So essentially it would also provide a 767-200 replacement but be a lot more efficient and provide more torturous conditions for passengers due to the slimmer fuselage.

    1. Dan Dair

      I struggle with the concept of “throwing more money at the 737 to squeeze what is left out of that design”.
      I really think they have already wrung every last drop out of that airframe.?
      If they are really going to ‘throw more money’ at it, if they’re smart (which they might not be) they’ll make a new one with that money.?

      Regarding your statement;
      “So think city pairs that are too big to support a 787-8 but too far apart for a narrowbody to service”.??
      Icelandair are flying international services around Europe and across the Atlantic using narrowbody B757’s.
      British Airways used to fly the tiny A318’s between London City & New York JFK.
      How far apart do cities have to be to be “too far apart for a narrowbody to service”.?

      Apropos your statement;
      “I don’t think Boeing is considering this aircraft just to compete with the Airbus A321LR and provide a true replacement for the 757”
      Between the largest B737 & the smallest B787 there’s probably only room for one aircraft model from Boeing.
      The issue to me is that a shrunk-down the B787 is too heavy & the B737 probably will never get long-enough without a radical rebuild of the wing & landing gear, together with bigger cross-section engines.
      If they actually build a B797 which can efficiently fulfil the B737 role & stretch up to just below the smallest B787, it will be a hit.?
      If they can’t, it’ll be just another aircraft for an over/under-worked fleet-manager to consider.? Will it fit in with the rest of their Boeing fleet, or should they instead buy A320’s & the operationally identical A321’s to cover the routes they need to cover.?

      1. FlyLo

        Dan Dair,
        British Airways still operates a daily Monday to Friday service between London City Airport and New York (JFK) with outward fueling stop and US Customs clearance in Shannon using the 32 seat business class only Airbus 318.

        British Airways also operates a daily Paris (Orly) to New York (JFK) service using a 3 class Boeing 757 under its ‘Open Skies’ brand.

        There are plenty of U.S. airlines flights across the Atlantic using the 757. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen United 757s (formerly belonging to Continental) at London Heathrow. But these are generally flown to the secondary U.S. gateway cities.

        I am waiting for airlines to bring back the 707! I would be first in line for a ticket to experience again the noise and thrill of flying!

        1. Dan Dair

          “with outward fueling stop……in Shannon”
          Humorous IMO,
          just because that was exactly why Shannon airport became important in the early days of Transatlantic flight. !!

          If you want to experience the B707 all over again…..
          Just get on a B737.!!!
          The current-longest model is about the same length as the original B720, which was effectively a undersized 707. And of course the 73’s fuselage is still vintage B707.!
          The real difficulty IMO, would be finding a current B737 which had a seating-layout as generous as a 1960’s 707.?

          Of course, in none of that works for you, you could always ask John Travolta for a go in his.????

  9. Tango

    Where that picture comes from I do not know.

    However, its not a 797. Boeing has not turned out a new or derived aircraft with a winglets since the 777 set the standard.

    1. Ben Sandilands

      So I’m guessing the 737 MAX is an hallucination.

      1. Tango

        Ben: I said that to where it could be interpreted wrong.
        No new aircraft has had winglets, crank wing design.
        If the wing is redone completely (777/747) it also has no winglets, ala crank wing design.

        The 737 has not had the wing redone.
        Ergo, this would not be a 797 as it would not have winglets but would have a crank wing design.

  10. Tango

    Its kind of irony that the so called killed off 767 is being ramped up to 2.5 a month.

    Yes, part of that is the KC465 hulls, but FedEx has decided that it makes a dandy freighter (as did UPS previously). FedEx decided new builds were better than converted.

    UPS is now converting passenger 767s as they can’t get new ones.

    The 767 has now established itself in the freighter market and the A330 has not done well.

    1. Zarathrusta

      Airbus could certainly focus a bit more on freight capacity and versatility in its passenger aircraft.

      1. Dan Dair

        You make an interesting point.!
        Why is it that Boeings seem to be preferred to Airbuses as the freighter of choice.?
        Is it simply that Boeing have been around longer, so there’s much more conversion experience out there, not just from Boeing, but also from independent aircraft engineering companies who’re carrying-out there conversions.?
        Or, is there something about the dimensions or construction of Airbuses which make them less attractive as freighters.?

        A lot was made of this point around 12 to 18 months ago, regarding any second-life the pre-owned A380’s might have as freighters.?
        You’d think they’d be very attractive (at the right price) for freight companies but the consensus seemed to be, that their 2-decks wouldn’t be either strong-enough, nor tall-enough to accept standard airfreight pallets on both levels.?

  11. Tango

    Floor loading is an issue unless it is a purpose built freighter.

    Yes you can strengthen the floor, preferre4d is Boeing as they have the data to do so, an independent (some are out there) have to come up with their own structural analysis (not cheap) and then design a beef up that passes muster (also not cheap)

    Airbus never finished the beef up design on the A380 floor loading.

    While an independent could, not only do you have the cost issue (and who wants it?) you have a thing called floor loading issue.

    In short, UPS and FedEx do not have high floor loads, most freighter companies do. The A380 did work for package freighters due to lower floor loads (even in the F model that was never finished).

    No one else wanted it (Cargo Lux did participate in the preliminary design for the A380F as a possible customer and never considered an order) . Sometimes its exploratory, sometimes it gives you a leg up on what might be and what you would be competing against.

    As UPS and FedEx don’t want it anymore, there is no market.

    You also have to have a reliable feed stock (up coming retired birds) . While other the other factors rule it out, there is no feedstock either.

    Emirates wants a good price and can’t get it, ergo they may park them.

  12. Tango

    And to clarify, UPS and FedEx bulk out before they weight out.

    The floor in an A380F even beefed up, the airframe could not take the 747 or the 777F floor loads, ergo no interest.

    1. Dan Dair

      I’ve no personal idea if your figures & comments are accurate, so I’m happy to accept them as fact.
      That said, ‘feedstock’ is just about to become available, as Singapore give it’s initial tranche of leased aircraft back to their owners.
      It will be interesting to see if anyone goes-for these in either the main-line or low-cost markets.?
      I will be really surprised if Airbus turn-out to have genuinely not thought through their second-user market strategy properly (or at all).?
      It seems like Emirates can earn a lot of money with their aircraft, but they’ll need to, if they effectively are just scrap-metal when EK are finished with them.?

      I can see why Emirates & any other owner would rather park them than sell them cheap to a potential competitor, but it does mean that no, or next to none of the capital is recovered by selling the aircraft when the first owner is through with it.?
      That was why I had freighters in mind. Quite clearly as second-users, they would present no competition to a passenger airline.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details