The 797-6 vs 797-7 – The Proposed Boeing ‘NMA’ Variants 

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Another air show has come and gone, with Boeing still undecided if it is ready to launch its new Boeing 797 NMA (New Midsized Aeroplane) onto the marketplace. Whilst we can only speculate as to the reasons why it is still delayed, we can use this time to better understand the differences between the two Boeing 797 variants and the roles each will play in an airlines’ fleet.

Boeing 797
The Boeing 797 was previously expected to be announced at this years Paris Airshow. Photo: Dj’s Aviation via Youtube

Boeing has created two 797 designs, the 797-6 and the 797-7. Let’s compare them head to head.

The Boeing 797-6

The smaller of the two 797-6s will focus on range rather than passengers. It will be able to fly 300 nautical miles further than the bigger 797-7.

This range has been selected as it’s the average distance that most airlines fly and would accommodate many transatlantic and transpacific routes. Additionally, it is the most common route distance for Airbus A330 aircraft, a market that Boeing is hoping to crush with their cheaper 797 series.

The Boeing 797-7

As the bigger 797, the 797-7 has sacrificed range for capacity. With 50 more seats than the 797-6, it will be the more economical version of the aircraft series. It is very likely that Boeing will focus on the 797-7, to bring it to market before the 797-6 as to try and beat off as many Airbus A321XLR sales as possible.

The Airbus A321XLR is already a huge hit at the Paris Air Show. Photo: Airbus

As mentioned by a fellow reporter on Simple Flying, “This may help Boeing put some clearer product differentiation between the A321XLR and its 797. The 797-7 could fly 500 nautical miles further and carry some 50 more passengers than the A321XLR. These are not insignificant numbers.”

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Interestingly, Boeing has reportedly decided to not press for additional range with their aircraft, rather to keep weight and costs low, and thus more affordable for airlines.

What are the main differences between the two variants?

Essentially it boils down to a difference between range and capacity.

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

The bigger 797-7 will be perfect for dense routes that require incredibly frequency (think of a flight leaving every 10 minutes between destinations) such as New York to Chicago or Sydney to Melbourne (the second most dense route in the world).

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The smaller 797-6 will be used for less dense, long-range routes. Routes that are currently served by expensive large wide-body aircraft that are hardly ever full (for example, Maui to San Diego).

The range of the new Airbus A321XLR & also possible routes for the 797. Photo: Airbus

Boeing hopes that these two aircraft will offer an excellent solution to a range of problems faced by airlines, and with a price as low as a Boeing 737, a done deal in most minds. But whether or not these two aircraft can beat off the new Airbus A321XLR and A330neo-800 respectively remains to be seen.

What do you think? Which aircraft do you think is best? Let us know in the comments.

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