The Boeing 767X was cross between a Boeing 747 and a 767. It had two decks and carried 300 passengers. It was the perfect compromise that would have never flown. But if it had been built by Boeing, would it have been successful? Let’s explore this alternative world.
What was the Boeing 767X?
Boeing has left some pretty crazy designs on the table:
- A non-supersonic Concorde jet, that could fly 20% faster than a normal plane.
- A miniature 747 that looks rather absurd.
- A pre-A380 double-deck aircraft that could carry nearly 800 people.
But none has been as strange or wacky as the Boeing 767X, or called with fondness, the Boeing 767 Hunchback.
The 1980s design had a very distinct feature of having a second level at the back of the plane, which was actually a 757 second ‘glued’ onto the top of the 767 wide-body fuselage. The concept was born from the desire to have a larger capacity aircraft, without having to redesign the fuselage. Thus the team of Boeing engineers would prod, poke and stretch the frame to its limit.
This version of the 767X would be a quick and easy capacity extension to the aircraft line, without having to develop an entirely new production line.
It would have slotted in the 767 family as the biggest variant.
Looking at the specifications, it would have carried around 300-340 passengers to a range of 3,000-5,000 nautical miles, based off a heavier version of the 767-300. This would have made it a contender for the upcoming Boeing 797 positioning in the middle of the market, although it’s range at the time would have left a little to be desired.
An early 1980s concept for a larger 767: The 767-X. It’s a section of 757 fuselage piggybacking at the aft of a 767, a concept nicknamed the Hunchback of Mukilteo. Long story short, this morphed into the 777 we know today.
Photos: Boeing pic.twitter.com/KyCqaUBtyD
— Ethan Klapper (@ethanklapper) February 4, 2019
Why was it never built?
Well, for one thing, Boeing was not sure if it could even fly. With a heavier aft section than the front (like the Boeing 747), it would have required far more power to take off. Boeing didn’t exactly have the most powerful engines compared to today, and this version of the 767 would have had all the disadvantages of a trijet without the extra power boost.
Additionally, we don’t know how passengers would have gotten between the levels, and in case of emergency, how they would evacuate.
In the end, Boeing spoke their mantra that “if it doesn’t look right it won’t fly right” and shelved the design, according to Aviation Week.
The design of a larger Boeing 767 would eventually evolve into what we know as the 777 today, with engineers deciding to just redesign a larger fuselage from the ground up.
Who would have flown it?
It would have been picked up by heavy 767 based fleets, such as Delta, who needed more capacity without compromising on what they loved about the 767. Because it would have been the same type rating as the normal 767, pilots would have been able to fly the aircraft without having to retrain or be additionally qualified.
Additionally, Boeing had high hopes that a 767X variant would replace the 767 and the 747 (now 15 years old).
We would have seen other carriers across the world buy the aircraft, but with rising fuel costs and a declining market for the 767 (which would be replaced by the 787 in a few years), it is likely the design would not have been very successful.
In the end, because the design was so ‘ugly’ and Boeing needed a few more years to perfect the concept, airlines moved on.
What do you think? Would you fly on the 767X? Let us know in the comments.