Boeing Ponders The 767X – Is This The 797 NMA?

According to reporting by Flight Global today, Boeing is considering a new version of its popular 767 widebody jet. The new iteration would incorporate the GEnx engines for a good boost in efficiency. Initially under scrutiny for the cargo market, reports suggest that a passenger variant could also be under consideration, as a low-risk alternative to the NMA, aka the 797.

767-400ER
The 767X would be based on the 767-400ER. Photo: Rolf Wallner via Wikimedia

A new cargo plane

Flight Global reports having learned of a Boeing project dubbed the 767-XF which examines how the 767 can be reimagined for modern requirements. The project is based on the popular 767-400ER platform, but with powerhouses from GE Aviation, specifically the GEnx engines.

As these engines would be larger than the current CF6 engines, the 767X would require a modified landing gear, to give greater clearance below the plane. Aside of this, very little would be altered from the original 767 design in terms of the fundamental structure of the plane.

Boeing 767X
The project is initially to develop a 767X freighter. Photo: Eric Salard via Wikimedia

The 767-300F is one of the most popular modern cargo aircraft around, along with the 757-200F. However, the 757 is aging, and many cargo airlines are beginning to remove it from their fleets. FedEx and UPS , in particular, are heavy users of the type and have around 60 aircraft still on order.

As a remastered version of the 767F would involve minimal design changes, it would be a lot quicker to market. In fact, Flight Global says Boeing has slated its entry into service as being as soon as 2025.

767x
The 767X cargo aircraft could enter service by 2025. Photo: Nathan Coats via Flickr

A passenger variant

Flight Global claims that sources have indicated that, alongside the new and improved freighter, the US planemaker could also be looking to develop a passenger variant too. The 767X would go some way to filling the niche that the 797 is set to occupy, but as it would be a reiteration of an existing airframe, it would not be as much of a risk as a clean sheet design would be.

767-400
The 767X would be based on the 767-400ER. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia

The 797 has been eagerly anticipated for some time, but with ongoing issues with the 737 MAX and delays to the timeline of the 777X, the proposed NMA has taken something of a back seat lately. The manufacturer is increasingly under pressure to present a solution for the middle of the market niche, particularly since Airbus’ announcement of an A321XLR, which ticks many of these boxes.

Not only would a reengineered 767X be quicker to bring to market, it would also free up Boeing resources for other projects. Projects such as a clean sheet small aircraft, to replace the popular but outdated 737.

Video of the day:

Simple Flying reached out to Boeing for clarification. A spokesperson confirmed Flight Global’s reporting but declined to add further comment.

Déjà vu?

If you’re thinking you’ve heard of the 767X before, you wouldn’t be wrong. Boeing in fact floated the idea of a 767X back in the ‘80s, which was an odd looking bird to say the least. The 767 ‘hunchback’ was basically a 767 with the fuselage of a 757 on top, making it a two story plane like the successful 747, but somehow far uglier.

767X
The Boeing 767X next to other versions of the 767 family. Photo: Boeing

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) the original 767X never did get built. Boeing wasn’t even sure it would fly, with the rather odd aerodynamics involved. In that respect, this new idea of the 767X sounds a lot more plausible.

Do you think Boeing will make a 767X? Will it be the NMA we’ve all been waiting for? Let us know in the comments.

The details in this story first appeared on Flight Global.

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Karl David

what about new engines and a carbon wing? to much.

Sam Rittler

Jesus christ, no. Just give us the clean slate design with composite materials, it would be far more fuel efficient than just adding new engines to an existing airframe.

Ber

That’s what they did with the a330 neo though… and it turned out to be a rather successful venture

Smokerr

Not to mention the efficiency gains are almost all in the engine per the A330NEO.

David C

It’s a stopgap measure. But it fits the economic situation that Boeing finds itself in due to the MAX crisis. They cannot commit to the clean sheet design of the NMA right now due to their cash cow having sour milk. The 737 costs of litigation will be enormous and ongoing from both the families of the passengers and more expensively the carriers who have been impacted by the grounding. If we are playing three dimensional chess here, Boeing does not have a stated firm direction for new type innovation, but they need to with both the NMA and the… Read more »

Smokerr

Is the A330NEO a stop gap measure?

David C

It’s still older manufacturing techniques for the fuselage and wings. They haven’t fully embraced composites yet. The new wing technology in the C-Series needs to be up-scaled to larger aircraft types. The very expensive exercise in technology advancements for the C-Series has not been fully exploited in larger aircraft. The A330Neo is meeting current demand, its which company can afford to next-step aircraft sized in both the NMA ranges/capacities and the 170-220 PAX capacity segment. Boeing has the 787 that incorporates a lot of that technology, but that is a full sized wide-body. demand for 170-220 PAX narrow body is… Read more »

Trent

David has a good point here. This is the first sign that Boeing is in panic mode. Boeing is not going out of business, but its hurting….big time.

737: Grounded
747: 3 years of building back log
767: F version only
777: Final models being built over next few years
777X: Behind schedule
787: 40 months of building backlog

Boeing needs to sell units NOW, and the 767X will do that. The 767X is Boeing throwing in the towel and deciding 50 now is better than 90 tomorrow…..maybe.

A BC

Why would airbus wanna stretch a220 to compete against their smaller a320s?

Norman

“very little would be altered from the original 767 design in terms of the fundamental structure of the plane”…just as long as they don’t have the bright idea of raising the engine above the wing line like the 737 MAX as a cheaper alternative to modifying the landing gear

Timo

767 MAX?

Eolosbcn

I don’t see why they would produce a new 767 with the 787 in existence?

Smokerr

Because the 787 is a very long range bird and the 767 is a Medium and there are about 1000 out there.

It also does not have 25 billion investment to retire, low cost solution and Boeing needs a 737 replacement fast.

Matt

Why not just a lower range 787 with smaller engines?

David C

Matt asked: Why not just a lower range 787 with smaller engines?
Large backlog on the 787 line. The 767 line is slow and already has existing MFG techniques downpat. Two vastly different assembly systems. Carbon Fiber VS traditional form and rivet. Faster turnaround to market and if commonality is maintained, a significant amount of mainline pilots with the type rating.

Trent

To be honest, the 787 backlog isn’t that long right now. 40 some months at current build rates. BUt I totally agree, that Frankenstein wouldn’t work.

Matt

How’s that a Frankenstein? It was literally a planed model from the start.

Richard Johnson

The 757 pilots can also fly the 767 plane they are very similar. A lot of pilots are very well trained on these planes.

Hein C Vandenbergh

As were those B737-800 pilots who had the misfortune of dying in the 737-MAX8 disasters. let’s hope that any such 767 development is PROPERLY tested as it is a new aircraft, the FAA keeps an eagle-eye on it, and pilots get ALL information as to type-differences and time in the flight-sim before embarking on their first PAX-carrying flight……. And that goes for current 757 pilots as well as current 767 pilots.

Richard

I knew it! I just knew it! At the back of my mind I was saying it wouldn’t be clean sheet it’ll be a new modified 767.
I think Boeing saw what Airbus did with their A330Neo & thought a 767Max would be a good idea!
A 767 with zigzag nacelles would be awesome!

In-Frequent Flyer

The 787 exists as a 767 replacement. Seems pointless to build a more modernized variant when the 787 is selling big right now.

David C

The reason would be price point, commonality and time to market. A re-engineered 767 would potentially be common with existing types that are due to be retired. (Of course that did not end well with the MAX, but I bet they have learned that lesson). The final assembly lines exist now, and the price point to get into a newer version is significantly less than the 787 which has a larger amortization of development surcharge assigned to its price. Time to market would be significantly less than a clean sheet design. And of course Boeing has to show a lower… Read more »

Flemming Stücker

A “new” aircraft with bigger engines – Anoter MAX product?
No one will fly with them. Sorry

Smokerr

So no one will fly with an A330NEO?

Shapes

Everyone loves the NEO but hates the max.

In-Frequent Flyer

Nah. With the 787 effectively replacing 767s abroad, it makes little sense to just re-engine the 767at this point in time; even if it would be easier. They did the same with the MAX and people may not be so trustworthy of Boeing in this case. The 767 is big enough for it to work, but they were developing the 797 before the neo came out. A shortened 797 could very well be an ideal 737 replacement.

Adrián C

It is more feasible to make a new narrow-body model on a clean sheet to replace the B737, which is a model created in the 60 ‘

David C

Boeing does not have the financial resources to clean sheet anything right now. Revenue from MAX sales (the cash cow) have dried up. No airline is paying for aircraft parked at Everett and Renton (they ran out of space in Renton and had to ferry them to Everett) and there are a lot of lawsuits flying around due to the grounding. But agreed, they need a 737 replacement. The MAX (or 8200) model is tarnished for both airlines and more importantly, Consumers..

Trent

The rumor is…that if they push forward with the 767X, that it is to free up clean sheet design money for a new small airplane. David is spot on, Boeing might not have the money for a clean sheet design for a market the Airbus doesn’t even think is large enough for its own airframe. To me this means that If….Boeing peruses the 767X it means its punting on NMA and will dump cash into the “new small airplane” for a launch in the 2030 time frame. By then the 747 will be dead. The 737 Max will be wrapping… Read more »

Shapes

The other 2030 option is:
747: long Dead
737 Max: Dead (never re-certified)
777X: engine problems never resolved
777XA: Re-engined with 4 ex max engines
787: In need of update
797: (NMA) never materialised
800: (license built A220 variant)

Smokerr

First, Cargo operator are not retiring the 757. FedEx just got done buying and updating 100 or so to replace the 727. UPS has a whole fleet of them (purpose build) – passenger airlines are retiring the 757s (many bought to convert to cargo). A 757 has a narrow fuselage and runs different routes than a 767 would As the 787-3 was way too expensive a 767-X makes sense if its just a new engine. The USAF is not going to buy it as they are committed to the 2C variant and the P&W engines. If done it may com… Read more »

Richard Johnson

Make two versions 220 and a 240 seat planes with around 4000 to 4500 nautical miles. With the new technology Boeing can make this work with better efficient motors and designs. I am will to bet Delta and United are on the phone now with Boeing when can this plane can be put into service. Just between these two airlines could be up to 500 sales.

Phil

Yeah we all saw where that got the 737max! An ancient plane with new engines! The a330 was only 20 years old when it was re engined yet the 767 is much older than that so re engining it is just plain dumb!

jdbj

I take it that you’re not aware that the A330 design is based off the A300 from the 1972?

Luke Mellor

Bigger engines…..raised gear……forward centre of gravity….MCAS Software 🙁

Adam

Boeing had the chance here to be totally revolutionary. Just like VW are now doing with the ID range, kick started by dieselgate scandal. Boeing could have come up with a new hybrid or hydrogen aircraft. Instead they want to preserve their status-quo. Keep burning kerosene like its not a problem. They are becoming the tobacco industry of old.

Matt

Hybrid or electric aircraft are a fantasy. For a hybrid to work, you need to be recovering energy normally wasted to deceleration. Aircraft only decelerate once during a flight. The battery energy density isn’t there. It’s not close to being there, and will likely never be there. We’re not even talking about doubling or even tripling the energy density to make it feasible. We’re talking exponential increases in battery technology.

Hydrogen has issues with storage. Since it’s the smallest atom, it can penetrate anything that’s used to store it. No one has overcome this.

Dr Hein Vandenbergh

H2 can be generated on board using H2O and very little electrical energy. One need not carry those damn heavy batteries up into the sky on each take-off. E-flight and E-automotive propulsion is a dead-end and the wrong path to follow. Go hydrogen. BMW proved this years ago, but the carbon-fuel lobby encourages in situ e-propulsion so that the energy to charge these batteries can be generated elsewhere using coal or fuel in large power-stations ‘in someone else’s backyard’. E-power is the greatest con-trick since anti-ageing cream….

Adam

Yep, and a hundred years ago they didn’t have a metal strong enough to withstand the temperature inside a jet engine. This did not stop them from trying. To point out something is hard and use that as an excuse to never try is total defeatism. With your mindset there would never have been an aeroplane in the first place. Imagine the man in 1870 – “The idea that you can put 500 people in a metal flying box is total fantasy, best not to bother”

Hein Vandenbergh

Not sure what mindset we are referring to here, Adam. Not trying H2 or not trying e-propulsion? The latter is easy but relocates earth-destroying emissions to somewhere else. H2 doesn’t do that. “Big E” is not going to give up its toxic monopolies readily, esp in the Middle East: they would succumb economically in a hurry, rather than die of a lack of O2 and an XS of heat over a century or so. They need to diversify their economies. Can still keep their only current diversification, airlines, if a bit of money went into H2 research.

David Grant

So, a 40+ year old Boeing design with new engines, longer landing gear and (probably) new flight software. What could possibly go wrong?

Trent

Because fitting new engines on an ancient air frame has worked out so well for Boeing in the past.

hkjl

Yea, 747-400 and 737 Classic/NG make up some of the best aircraft ever made.

Matt

This won’t be the dramatic difference as the 737. This will be similar to the A320neo. That being said, I don’t see where they are aiming with this. It’s going to cannibalize higher profit sales from the 787. They should just make a lower range 787 with smaller engines.

Bobby Paluga

A carbon fiber-ized 767 with a new cockpit, new engines and Dreamliner wings would certainly fulfill that hole in Boeing’s offerings. I’ve always been fond of the 767, it has all the nice characteristics of the 777 without the need to fill as many seats.
If Boeing actually builds the 797, the 321EILRNEO extra incredibly long range with new engine offerings will be toast.

David C

bobby Paluga Said: “A carbon fiber-ized 767x with a new cockpit, new engines and Dreamliner wings”.. Well that is essentially a less capable 787 give or take. The advantage to the 767 re-engined airframe is existing assembly techniques, existing final assembly lines and training commonality. There is a vast difference in the assembly of an aluminum skinned fuselage and assembling a Carbon Fiber fuselage. They are two different ways of building an aircraft. Once you go to Fly by wire, you are into new training regimes. A typed certified 767 pilot cannot just jump into a 787 and vice versa.… Read more »

Tim

In the age of modern manufacturing, Airbus should find the plans for the old A310 and make it from scratch using composites. This is the perfect 797 sized plane in my opinion. I have been in one in the mid 80s.

Tom Z

Gee Boeing, how about an updated B-377 NMA Stratocruiser? Stretch it, add longer lower deck lounge, ,jack up the landing gear, could be more cutting edge engineering! Getting tired of Airbus,Embraer,Bombardier building new airplanes! Seriously, I’m proud of my 28,000 hrs., most of it in Boeing cockpits 727, 747, 757,767, cutting edge airplanes! Come on Boeing, build a real modern, economical, cutting edge B-797 !

Gerry Stumpe

Said it before. Will say it again. Bad idea.

hkjl

All the commenters so far don’t appear to grasp the fact that the article says this is for a freighter with a possibility of a passenger version.

The reason for the freighter is probably that the 787 body can’t accomodate the modifications needed for a freighter and there is ongoing demand for a freighter of that size.

Shapes

The sheer fact the original 767x was around in the 80’s just shows that boing are just churning out old designs.
Where is the innovation?

Geoff M

Whats wrong with an old design if it works? Boeing built the 767 just the right time, when the only competition was the A300 in the wide bodied mid sized class. So well regarded is the 767 it is still being made, still being bought, and 1000 are still flying. Pilots say the 767 is not an easy plane to fly but a very satisfying one once the tricks are learnt. Now for the clincher – the 757 has a lot of commonality with the 767 , pilots can easily move from one to the other and the engineering is… Read more »

Charles Cleaver

You cannot say the 767-400ER was “a popular aircraft”. It was ordered by a grand total of TWO customers: Continental (now UAL) and Delta.

Andy

They’ve done the revamp route with the 737MAX and the Airbus A320neo, and both are currently the subject of design issues. The route of minimum change could similarly throw up a surprise or two. They really need to make sure their engineers look at every possible impact analysis.