What is the plane of the future?

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 discover what the plane could be.

The good plane we have now

It may surprise you when I tell you that one of the best planes we have at the moment is the tall, old, and uncomfortable 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 then, but not many airlines bought into the idea, so production was stopped.

However, around 2007, airlines started to use it on low-demand transatlantic routes, like New York to Edinburgh or Glasgow. This wasn’t possible then, 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 two decent engines to fly across the ocean later. This law led to the creation of „Tri-Jets“. The 757 was great for the routes because it could easily handle the flights with its range, which meant there wouldn’t be wasted seats if airlines used a Boeing 777 or Airbus A340.

Boeing 757 - Wikipedia
Icelandair continues the 757 on transatlantic routes
(Credit: en.wikipedia.org)

When the 757 is retired, airlines need to develop a plane that comes in between the 787 or A330 and the 737 MAX-10 or 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. While the Airbus A321neo is currently fulfilling the future plane’s purpose, it doesn’t have enough seats for the passengers’ needs.

The real plane of the future

Whilst it isn’t a personal or self-driving aircraft, the plane of the future is the Boeing 797. Boeing has been feeding us little snippets of information recently, confirming that the 797 is no longer a concept but a 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.

Boeing to Rethink '797' Project - SamChui.com
The 797 will be built to fit in between the 737 MAX-10 and the 787-8
(Credit: samchui.com)

So, even if we all wish it to be, comfort is not the way forward in the commercial airline industry; instead, economics is. The Boeing 797 will rock into the skies and change the aviation industry forever.


  • Wendover productions on Youtube
  • airlineratings.com (also cover image)

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