Qatar Airways is aiming to be the launch customer for the new Boeing 797 aircraft. Boeing is expected to announce the new aircraft at the Paris Airshow, however it could be delayed due to the Boeing 737 problem.
Boeing is known to have been working on a new aircraft for some time. It is known as the NMA for New Midsize Airplane, although informally it has been dubbed the “Boeing 797”. This would be the logical progression of Boeing’s numbering system following on from the Boeing 787.
No stranger to firsts
Qatar Airways is no stranger to being a launch customer. Indeed, the airline acted as the launch customer for both variants of the Airbus A350. This included the Airbus A350-900, and more recently the Airbus A350-1000. In fact, Simple Flying even reported back in March that the airline wanted to be the first to fly the Boeing 777X.
Lufthansa already has the honour of being the 777X’s first customer. In fact, despite the delay to the first flight of the aircraft, Boeing is already well underway with construction of Lufthansa’s first aircraft.
The 797 – what to expect?
The Boeing 797 is expected to fill the gap in between Boeing’s small and large aircraft. Aimed at the 250-270 seat market, the 797 will be bigger than the Boeing 737 MAX 10, but smaller than the Boeing 787-8.
The New Midsize Airplane will supposedly be suited to high capacity short-haul routes, such as Melbourne to Sydney or Chicago to New York. The wide-bodied aircraft will have two aisles to accommodate the relevant number of passengers necessary.
By designing a whole new aircraft, Boeing will be able to introduce all of their new technologies onto the plane. They should also avoid the types of problems we have seen with the rollout of the Boeing 737 MAX, which incorporates new engines on an old design. Rolls Royce currently has no plans to provide the NMA’s engines.
Boeing had been expected to formally announce the 797 project at this year’s Paris Airshow. However, there is a worry that delays to other programs could push back the aircraft’s launch. The American manufacturing giant was expected to fly its Boeing 777X prototype to the show, however it is yet to take its first flight. Additionally, Boeing is currently throwing everything it has at solving its 737 MAX crisis, which has grounded the plane.
Flight Global reports Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker told CNN,
“What I’ve been shown by Boeing, I’m extremely interested in that aeroplane and I would like to be a launch customer.”
Who knows? Maybe we’ll see the aircraft launched with an order from Qatar in just under two weeks time! Do you think Qatar will be the Boeing 797’s Launch customer? Let us know in the comments!