As Boeing’s 777X brings high hopes to those working at airlines, and the A350 continues to dominate the market, when will new medium-haul aircraft come into play? Join me as I find out what could be the plane of the future.
The good plane we have now
It may come as a surprise to you when I tell you that one of the best planes we have at the moment is the tall, old and uncomfortable aircraft that is the Boeing 757. In 2004, Boeing made a huge mistake by retiring the aircraft, just before airlines started to realize the great purpose it could serve. Boeing originally designed the 757 to be a larger aircraft than the 737 that could be used on short-haul routes, this was extremely efficient at the time but not many airlines bought into the idea, hence why production was stopped.
However, around 2007, airlines started to use it on low demand, transatlantic routes, like New York to Edinburgh or Glasgow. This hadn’t been possible at the time, as twin-engine jets weren’t allowed to fly across the pond based on the concept that if one engine failed, it would only have one engine to carry it to safety, whereas the 747 with its 4 engines would have 3. This was known as the ETOPS rating (historically nicknamed “Engines Turn Or Passengers Swim”) and it allowed aircraft with decent two engines to fly across the ocean later. This law leads to the creation of „Tri-Jets“. The 757 was great for the routes because it could easily handle the flights with its range, and meant that there wouldn’t be wasted seats if airlines used a Boeing 777 or Airbus A340.
When the 757 is retired, airlines need to come up with a plane that comes in between the 787 or A330 and the 737 MAX-10 and A320 series. The 787 has too many seats, and the 737 MAX- 10 has a smaller range than the 757, meaning it would only be able to supply the east coast of the US with a small percentage of European destinations. Whilst the purpose of the plane of the future is currently being fulfilled by the Airbus A321neo, this just doesn’t have enough seats for what the passengers want.
The real plane of the future
Whilst it isn’t personal aircraft or self-driving aircraft, the plane of the future is the Boeing 797. Boeing has been feeding us little snippets of information recently, and this confirms that the 797 is no longer a concept but it is reality. The plane will have 220 to 280 seats and Boeing says that it will even be able to connect the west coast of America with Europe.
Previously, if airlines wanted to do this using the 757, they would have to stop and refuel on the east coast. Meanwhile, Airbus is sitting still and doing nothing.
So, even if we all wish it to be, comfort is not the way forward in the commercial airline industry, and instead, economics is. The Boeing 797 is about to rock into the skies and change the aviation industry forever.
- Wendover productions on Youtube
- airlineratings.com (also cover image)