Boeing is quietly moving toward launching the 797 – an aircraft that passengers will love – according to leading US and UK financial analysts.
However, Boeing has gone into stealth mode with executives “mum” on details at the Farnborough Air Show, on the progress of what it still calls the New Midsized Aircraft that would carry between 230 and 270 passengers in twin-aisle comfort out to 5,000nm.
Doubt was cast over the 797 by a report by the Seattle Times of comments from David Joyce, vice chairman of GE and head of GE Aviation. GE is considered the favored engine supplier for the 797, over Rolls Royce and Pratt and Whitney and Mr Joyce said that the company is “still wrestling with what the size of the market is.”
“We aren’t completely reconciled right now, but we’ve not done all our homework. We’re taking a lot of input from the airlines,” Mr. Joyce told The Seattle Times.
However, one UK analysts, who wanted to remain anonymous, told AirlineRatings.com at Farnborough, that there is no conflict with GE. “They are on the same page with Boeing and I don’t quite understand Mr. Joyce’s comments – perhaps they were out of context.”
Boeing sees the market at about 5000 planes over 20 years. And what is more important they see the 797 as a stimulus to the market creating thousands of new routes, thus new business.
The company says there are 30,000 city pairs currently not linked that would be perfect for the 797.
“The 797 will be like a 787 on steroids,” said the UK financial analyst. “It will open up routes everywhere. Put it another way, the 797 will do for air travel what ETOPS did for the North Atlantic – it will be a bonanza.”
The compelling business case for the 797 is that it designed to fit between the smaller and short range 737/A320 aircraft and the much larger, heavier and longer range 787/A330 types.
Key to the industry launch is the production business case and the US analyst who spoke to AirlineRatings.com said that Boeing was moving quickly to close the case.
“My company sources tell me they [Boeing} are almost there and they are really excited about this aircraft,” the US analyst said.
“They expect it to be produced at much higher rates than the 787.”
The massive appeal of the 797 will be its passengers cross section of 2-3-2 with huge overhead luggage bins which will put an end to the economy crush.
The 797 will be a made of composite material like the 787 and it will be able to economically connect hundreds of new non-stop routes between smaller cities.
Earlier this year Boeing moved one of its top engineers Terry Beezhold, to the program signaling that it is very serious about the aircraft.
Mr. Beezhold has had lead roles in the 787 and was project engineer on the ultra-long-range 777X, which will fly next year.
Boeing and its legacy company, McDonnell Douglas both touted a similarly sized aircraft – 7J7 and ATMR – as early as 1980. However, at the time aircraft seating was more spacious and passenger’s carry-on very limited and airlines couldn’t make the business case.
Fast forward to 2018 and passenger seating is far more cramped and the demand for overhead space far greater than a single aisle capacity allows.
The 797 with a 2-3-2 configuration means passengers will have more room regardless of the seat pitch and the overhead bin space will be massive.
Another plus will be that boarding and deplaning will be much faster.