In 2015, Boeing determined the market was large enough to launch a new design.
In 2017, multiple airlines expressed interest in a composite, seven-abreast twin-aisle with an elliptical cross-section. The new aircraft, which would likely have been named the Boeing 797, would be available in two versions: a 225-seater with a 5,000 mi (9,300 km) range and a 275-seater with a range of 4,500 mi (8,300 km).
The New Midsize Airplane (NMA), or New Midsize Aircraft (culturally referred to as the Boeing 797) is a conceptual model proposed by Boeing to fill the middle of the market (MoM) segment.
Why the B797 now?
- In 2015 Boeing determined that there was a niche in the market for a new aircraft design. Between the smallest B737MAX and the largest 787-8 is a gap in the market which they called the Boeing MoM (Middle of Market). Whilst Airbus expressed that they were covering this section of the market with their A320NEO and A320LR, Boeing felt there was a space in their fleet for a Boeing NMA (New Midsize Airplane).
- By 2016, Boeing had two options on the table-build a larger 737 or go with the all-new Boeing 797. The additional challenge for Boeing was that they already had their hands full with the development of the 777X as well as the 787-10, not to mention the trials and tribulations provided by the 737MAX. Airbus, as far as they were concerned, already had their solutions in place in the shape of the Airbus A321LR and A321NEO.
- At the 2017 Paris Air Show, Boeing announced that the 797 would use composite materials for the entire airframe and that the new aircraft would be launched in 2019. The design would be completed in 2020, fabrication in 2021-2023, certification in 2024, and introduction in 2025. So the 797 would not be available before 2025.
- Typically, new aircraft designs take 7.3 to 8.4 years from conception to introduction. This means that even if the go-ahead was given in 2019, there wouldn’t be a 797 rolling off the production line until 2026/27 at the earliest.
The engine selection process is reminiscent of the competition to power the 777-200LR/300ER at the end of the 1990s, which shaped the turbofan market for the subsequent years. Rolls-Royce proposed the Trent 8104 growth demonstrator, Pratt & Whitney proposed a scaled-up PW6000 while GE won exclusivity with the GE90-115B performance and GECAS 777 orders.
Rolls Royce obtained the same exclusivity for the A350, pushing P&W out of the widebody engine market and precipitating its narrowbody comeback with the PW1000G.
Boeing has not yet decided whether it will use a single-engine type: CFM considers an all-new direct-drive engine, and Rolls-Royce proposes its Advance direct-drive engine before 2025 and its UltraFan geared design after, scalable from 25,000 to 110,000 lbs.
Boeing 797 specs
Although concrete information still isn’t available, here’s what we know so far.The table is likely, and will be, updated in the future :
|BOEING||797 NMA 6x||797 NMA 7x|
|PASSENGERS (2 CLASS)||228||267|
|EXPECTED ENTRY INTO SERVICE||2025||2025|
Amidst all the crisis in aviation so far, will the Boeing B797 come to fruition?
With airlines struggling to stay in the air launching a new design will require some innovative financing and Boeing would need to work closely with its historic partners in Japan and Italy.
- COVER : airlineratings.com