The Boeing 797 – Here Are The Clues We Have So Far

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Like all things at Boeing, the 797 program has had a turbulent year. Less than a year ago the airframe builder was rumored to be announcing a new airframe at the Paris Air Show and now the Boeing 797 plans have been scrapped. What do we know about the 797 and how did we get here?

Boeing
What is the future for Boeing 797 program? Photo: Getty Images

The original concept

The Boeing 797 was originally devised as a new aircraft to fill in the ‘middle of the market’ gap that airlines were contending with. This ‘gap’ is defined as aircraft that cater to the 220-270 field of passengers to a range of 5,000 nautical miles. A step up from Boeing’s 737 short-haul aircraft and below the Boeing 787 long-haul aircraft; a medium-haul aircraft, if you will.

It would also need to be a spiritual successor to the Boeing 757 and Boeing 767, both of which are no longer built (Boeing 767 freighters are still built, but no more passenger aircraft).

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Boeing was actually rumored to be working on two Boeing 797 aircraft variants:

  • 797-6 will be able to seat 228-passengers and fly a range of 4,500 nautical miles (8,300km).
  • 797-7 which would seat 267-passengers and fly a range of 4,200 nautical miles (7,700km).

As you can see, the smaller one could carry fewer passengers a further range and the bigger one more passengers but to a lesser distance. The distance difference is rather irrelevant as most airlines would be operating the type under 4,000 nautical miles, but having a slighter longer-range available would be good for airlines such as Icelandair (who is looking to replace their Boeing 757s).

The original concept was also designed as a widebody aircraft. This would facilitate rapid boarding and deplaning of passengers at busy airports that required rapid turn around (think routes like Sydney to Melbourne with frequent services).

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Boeing 797
A Boeing 797 concept photo that has been circling the internet over the last few years. Photo: Dj’s Aviation via Youtube

What happened next?

Despite lots of airlines interested in the concept, Boeing never revealed anything at the Paris Air Show.

However, their rival Airbus was less hesitant and released their extended-range Airbus A321XLR, quickly snapping up orders that may have gone for the Boeing 797. 

From here Boeing actually had much more on their plate with the Boeing 737 MAX grounding and issues with the production of the Boeing 787 that they ended up shelving existing plans for the 797. The new CEO of Boeing decided that a new white-paper concept would be needed after much consultation and analysis of the industry.

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The Airbus A321XLR doesn’t fill the entire niche that Boeing wants to with the 797. Photo: Airbus

What are Boeing’s options?

From here Boeing has several options to bring an aircraft to market.

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

Part of the issue is that the cost of the new Boeing 797 design, whatever it may be, will be just as much as it costs to get the Boeing 737 MAX back in the air. Whether or not Boeing, and its shareholders, has the stomach to spend even more money on this aircraft remains to be seen.

What do you think? Which direction will Boeing go in? Let us know in the comments.

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Jethro

767x looks bad like really bad#what class would be in the little hup at the back of the plane first business or economy and you would never be able to get an air bridge up to the doors……………………stupid idea

Frank

Boeing just doesn’t have the money right now – the Max is costing $5 billion a quarter and the 787 still has $20 billion in sunk costs weighing it down (part of the reason they are being so careful with a new aircraft). A recession is right around the corner and they need to 1) re-certify the max, 2) get through the corona virus situation and 3) fix their balance sheet – before moving forward. As past history indicates (787, A220, A380) a new aircraft is a costly endeavour, but not just for Boeing, for everyone.

Sid Mickle

Do something, fast. Your organization looks, feels and acts braindead! If you don’t act soon Airbus could be the only major commercial aircraft supplier.

Old guy

787-3 sounds like a good option at this time

Joe

Boeing is in no position to be making a new plane right now. Looses made on the Dreamliner program, getting the 777x up and running, and of course trying to fix the aircrap that is the MAX should be enough for them to deal with. With all those things, they can’t afford to make a new aircraft other than on paper. They might have ideas, but they sure as heck don’t have the money, resources and manpower to get those ideas off paper and into the sky.

John

The NMA/797/MoM fills a niche that is smaller than Boeing would like the market to think it is. The NMA is targeted at TATL routes served by 757s and 767s. Not many airlines fly those aircraft anymore. The NMA will find little interest outside the US3.

Andy

The best thing Boeing can do right now is forget any new aircraft, any time soon. They first need to get the 737MAX recertified and out to its customers. The same is true of the 777X – get the plane certified and delivered. And they need to demonstrate that they have introduced quality controls which are second to none, so that public and customer confidence is restored as far as possible. I would also consider suspending production of at least one of the 737MAX variants for now, and concentrate on the faster-selling variants. to reduce ongoing production costs on the short to medium term.
A 767MAX isn’t going to appeal to everyone, although it certainly will to the US domestic market, but some creative flexible seating options will certainly need to be considered, because as far as widebodies go it is comparatively narrow.
A 757MAX isn’t really an option unless its production is shifted to Brazil, because the costs involved might never be recovered in a sector where Airbus already has a highly efficient competitor which is robbing a 757MAX of potential sales.
Boeing needs its next aircraft to be a real game-changer, such as the original 747 was. Perhaps an electric regional aircraft for 1,000 – 1,500 nm sectors? The first big hitter into this market with an all-electric product will surely clean up!

Phil

The concept for the 797 was probably DOA. A wide body sounds nice, but fuel burn with that fuselage would be a issue. Look to the 321. They’ve stretched it and have a wide range of passengers which it can accommodate. The narrow body is more efficient (though I hate them). My vote is for a clean sheet 737, which can go to 250 passengers. All carbon fiber and more advanced and efficient than the 321. Don’t know if that is possible, but the Max will have to be replaced in time too; so building two new airframes (737 replacement and 757/767) is simply not affordable.

RH Hastings

Boeing can not be distracted by the MAX debacle; they must move forward yet get the MAX issue done.

Money will be and has been tight but Boeing can and should tap their financial sources to cover what is necessary for the present and their future.

It takes the power of governments to enter this prestigious marketplace, but those governments are willing. European governments took only ~20 years to rise to the challenge, and China and Russia are next. Boeing can cede another chunk if they continue their mismanagement.

sander

As unfortunate as this may seem to many, Boeing wont be able to catch up with Airbus in the NMA segment, before the new plane is out we are already 6 years ahead. Boeing is messing up big time, a shame for a company that used to make great planes…but Airbus caught onto them…

charlesj

Reset what works by (1) Rebranding 737-MAX as 737-METRO (with scrolled wingtips) and (2) 787-8 as 787-MACRO (with fold-wingtips) and thereafter invent/develop totally new electric/hybrid MOM adavncement!!

Erik

A new aircraft that replaces the 737 and can cover the 757/767 in one swoop. Carbon fiber, larger windows, fresh air intake, and tall enough that future engine improvements won’t cause issues like the Max.

Trent

So just to confirm. We no nothing more than we did yesterday…or last week….or last month.

WordsMatter

Many here are saying Boeing needs a clean sheet design to replace the current 737 Max but that Boeing has too much on its plate in several quarters to set the cogs turning in that direction. However, while that is true, continuing with the 737 Max does not seem to be the right thing to do. No matter how you look at it, Boeing is facing huge losses but in the long run, Boeing would be better off abandoning the 737 Max now and start working on a competitive clean sheet single-aisle replacement whilst also ensuring quality production of the 787 and the 777. Boeing needs to get out of this crisis management cycle and sticking with the 737 Max programme is not achieving that.

Boeing’s place in commercial aviation is by no means lost and with a plan that most can agree is secure though very costly in the short term, investors are bound to become supportive when so much uncertainty is removed.

TransWorld

Wait until Boeing announces what direction it is going

Art Cameron

Fromm a passenger point of view, a single isle is a no go. Medical advise is to stretch ones legs every 2 hours so I highly favour a twin isle aircraft for medium and long haul flights to allow passengers the space to stand up and walk a little.

Davie

Go for it Boeing before u dont get any orders for any aircraft and the airlines crying out for your excellence so prove it to the world Boeing is no1

janj

A 767-X having the best of both worlds, why not sandwich the 767 and the 757 fuselage altogether. There goes your NMA! Why we haven’t think about that! Now we got a wide body with a single-aisle economics “on-top”!

Jim R.

Fine with the 767X design.

Flirent mbesse

People are tired of the same look alike planes. Something different to me look fine the 767x . I think will do fine as long as first class remain in the front and most coach passengers in the back and on top. Twin engine for less fuel unlike the 380 and the 787 concept of less aluminum I think will do just fine .

Florent mbesse

People are tired of the same look alike planes. Something different to me look fine the 767x . I think will do fine as long as first class remain in the front and most coach passengers in the back and on top. Twin engine for less fuel unlike the 380 and the 787 concept of less aluminum I think will do just fine .

Rich Kane

MY goodness….what a cluster. Bowing had it all and the previous two CEO’s and the board flushed it all away. Profits, profits and profits – and on full disclosure I WAS a stockholder. I disagreed with their totally fumbling of the future. Now they are so far behind its sickening. I don’t see a viable option here.

Florent mbesse

People are tired of the same look like aircraft concept. I think the 767x will do just fine as long as first class remain in the front and coach class in the back and top . Two engines for less fuel consumption unlike the A380. Using the 787 concept of less aluminum for less fuel consumption

Joe Sabo

I would think the 767X would be ideal with an interior and amenities like the 787 (a super aircraft) with fuel efficient, quiet engines.

Jack Avuaton

Yo Jethro… That was a 787x design

Brian Palmer

Get these over educated book smart dummies. The langlies and there airodrones out of the picture. Find wright brother mentalities to oversee your business direction.

Sarah

Being a Boeing employee we all see the biggest problem with Boeing is the senior management which is brain dead. The young engineers we have now don’t give a darn about the company only what they get from the company. Boeing needs to spend the money and make a clean sheet 797 that is lightweight similar to the 787. Boeing already has the technology to make the fuselage and wings composite so why not make a smaller 787.

DodgerFan666

@Jethro it’s a fictional concept…

Dcp123

Jethro, The plane concept in that picture is hideous, but it also looks like a very old concept.

The 767X Boeing would consider now should have the same fuselage as the existing 767s although possibly in longer or shorter versions, but would have newer, more efficient engines, quieter engine nacelles, and likely some changes to the wing (probably no more than a modern winglet), basically what Airbus would call a 767NEO. The empenage and gear might change a bit, but probably not.

Howie

This could be the next « Dash-80 » or « 747 », where everyone thought Boeing was crazy, and then they became the future of aviation. We will see how successful in 15 years

Jim nograles

Boeing must the fix the issues with 737 max before having a costly adventure of MOM aircraft.

Jim Nograles

Boeing must fix the issues with 737 max before having a costly adventure in MOM aircraft.

Ernest

Modernize the 757 with more efficient engines and new avionics and reopen the line. The stupidest mistake Boeing ever made was to close the 757 line to accommodate Southwest and try to make a 757 out of a 737.

Fahad

Lol that concept photo is from a popular flight simulator aircraft maker called CamSim. http://pages.videotron.com/camsim/ags797.htm

Andrew Heenan

Tying theB797 to the A321XLR really doesn’t make sense. By the time it gets to market, things will have moved on, and it’ll be a different segment in vogue – and even if it is still in fashion, Airbus will have hoovered up most of the orders for it.
That’s what happened with the B787/A350: both are selling OK, but neither in the numbers first predicted (not even close), and neither in the exactly the size range predicted.
The airline industry is notoriously fickle. The airlines will scream for one thing, promising orders galore, then change their minds, without even looking embarrassed.
Boeing would do better to take its time, review the whole catalogue, and start planning to cover every eventuality: Airbus has jumped ahead by being methodical and practical, as well as by not having the MAX to worry about.

Nick

Why show a nearly 30 year old image of the 767X concept? This was one of the ideas considered for what became the 777 program. Can’t imagine Boeing are actually revisiting this idea for a 767X.

Paul Sheehan

Re think the B787-3. Reduce the cabin width to match B767 and configure at 2-3-2 twin aisle. Much faster boarding and disembarkation. Nobody is more than 1 seat from an aisle. Faster cabin Service for crew. Feeling of more space for passengers. Fast turn-around for sectors like MEL-SYD. In other words B787 technology as a a direct replacement of the B767. Oh, and offer only with GE engines …… just saying!

Michael Räde

I believe the 797 Name will be used for an entirely New aircraft to replace the 737. That is obviusly where the biggest market is. The 737 has completed its lifecycle, and even though the Max will get back in the air and be operated worldwide, the time to replace it has come. The midle of the market plane will come as well, but to a later date with a different model designación.

John Rivera

This Boeing 797 is the largest in fleet, and easy control