The Boeing 2707: America’s Supersonic Dream That Never Took Flight
In the heyday of supersonic aspirations, when the Concorde was capturing imaginations and headlines worldwide, the United States had its own vision for high-speed air travel: the Boeing 2707. This supersonic transport (SST) was intended to not just match, but outperform the European Concorde. Here’s a look at what the Boeing 2707 was, who showed interest in it, and why it never left the drawing board.
What was the Boeing 2707?
The Boeing 2707 was the result of a fierce competition initiated by President John F. Kennedy to develop an American competitor to the British-French Concorde. Boeing emerged victorious against contenders like Lockheed and North American, securing the design contract.
- Passenger Capacity: 292 passengers (28 in first class and 264 in economy).
- Range: About 6,400 km or 3,500 nautical miles.
- Engines: Powered by four General Electric GE4/J5P turbojets.
- Speed: Capable of achieving a top speed of Mach 2.7.
Who Was Interested in the Boeing 2707?
According to records, the following airlines had optioned orders for the 2707:
- Air France, Air Canada, and Aer Lingus, among others, showed interest.
- Qantas paid a substantial deposit of $600,000 (around $16 million today) for six aircraft.
- A total of 122 optioned orders were recorded, which included both international and domestic airlines.
Financial and Commercial Viability
With an estimated price tag of around $50 million in 1970 ($435.47 million today), Boeing predicted that the program would break even by the 300th aircraft, with the market potentially sustaining up to 500 jets. Despite garnering only 122 options—amounting to $24.1 million in deposits—the project was considered financially precarious.
Why Did the Boeing 2707 Project Fail?
- Design Delays: The project suffered from continuous delays, making it less appealing over time.
- Commercial Interest: As excitement around supersonic travel waned, so did the business case for the 2707.
- Environmental Concerns: Public concern about the noise pollution associated with supersonic speeds further undermined the project.
- Financial Risk: The number of orders received wasn’t enough to justify the project’s high costs.
Legacy of the Boeing 2707
Though the Boeing 2707 never saw the light of day, it did redirect Boeing’s focus towards the legendary 747, a subsonic aircraft that has had an enduring impact on aviation history. Concorde itself faced its challenges; only 20 were ever made and just British Airways and Air France operated them commercially.