If you know me at all, you’re fully aware of the fact that I am a total perfectionist when it comes to my side view aircraft templates. However, I needed some illustrations of the Boeing 797 for another project I was working on, so I rolled up my sleeves and did what I could.
Disclaimer: The side view templates in this article is NOT the actual aircraft! The 797 isn’t even official yet, so there was no reference material to go off of. I simply had to take some guesses in terms of its overall size and shape. Only time will how accurate these illustrations end up being….
What exactly is the Boeing 797?
Up until about six months ago, nobody really knew. Not even Boeing. Yeah, there were some illustrations floating around the Internet depicting what it might look like, but all of that has been thrown out the window in recent months.
The original plan for the 797 was for it to be a midsize aircraft to compete directly with the Airbus a 321. This would essentially place the 797 between the 737 and 787 in Boeing’s commercial aircraft aircraft lineup. It seemed like the logical, but as we all know, things can change. And they have.
My proposal for what the 797 should be
Instead of the 797 being a midsized aircraft, I am proposing a single-aisle 737 replacement. But that’s not all! It’s not like I have a degree in aerospace engineering or anything, but I have to ask: wouldn’t it make more sense to have the 797 fill the role of a variety of different aircraft types?
For example, smaller variants of the 797 could be the successor to the 737 platform. However, with additional fuselage and wing modifications, it could be an aircraft larger in size to compete directly with the Airbus a 321.
That has essentially been the Airbus strategy all along with the A320 series. There are a wide variety of aircraft types based on that single platform (A318, A319, A320, A321), and there’s no reason why Boeing couldn’t go down that same path.
Here are some key features of my Boeing 797 concept:
- The fuselage would be based on the 787 design. The only major difference (other than scale) would be a smaller tail cone. This is the result of the APU not needing to be so large.
- The vertical stabilizer would be shorter and have a slightly less aggressive leading edge
- Carbon composite wings sound like a fantastic (and logical) idea, right? I’m guessing that they will be very similar to what is found on the 787. Although I expect the blended winglets to remain, I suspect that the overall rake of the wing will be less severe.
- The main landing gear will feature a single bogey (which could be doubled on larger variants). Expect it to be taller than is what is found on the current 737.
Potential problems for the 797
Boeing is in an incredibly difficult position at the moment. At the time of this writing, they are up to their eyeballs trying to get the 737 MAX recertified. Not only that, the 777X program is facing delays up to several years. To make matters even worse, the commercial airline industry has been absolutely decimated due to COVID-19, and very few airlines are ordering new aircraft right now. But it doesn’t stop there:
- The truth of the matter is that Boeing likely doesn’t even know how to proceed with the 797. The industry is changing so fast, and what might seem logical today may not be appropriate 10 years from now.
- Not only is demand for new aircraft at an all time low right now, there’s no telling how long the lull is going to last. Many airlines are feeling pinched by a weak global economy (and historically low demand for air travel), and will need to find ways to lengthen the average age of their existing fleet of aircraft.
Reasons why the Boeing 797 program is so important for Boeing
Even though I’m just lowly illustrator and designer with no formal business training, I’m going to say it anyway: Boeing is spending far too much time working on the 737 program. Of course I’m not privy to all the insider information, but I just don’t see how it’s logical to be spending so much time and energy on a platform that has so little time left.
The 797 will be the opportunity for Boeing to turn a new leaf. The 737 has reached the end of his life, which is perfectly OK. They got 60 successful and profitable years out of that design, and it was largely responsible for the growth and overall success of Boeing as we know it today. Nothing lasts forever though, so it’s time for a change. The 797 will:
- Keep Boeing competitive in an increasingly difficult commercial aviation market
- Help to drive innovation. This is important for their commercial aviation business (of course), but it’s even more important for the national security of the United States as well. Remember: Boeing is a crucial supplier to the US military.
- Help drive change. With an all-new aircraft type such as the 797 (using the latest technology), Boeing has the opportunity to make the airline industry more efficient and less damaging to the environment.
When will be the first flight of the Boeing 797?
Considering that the 797 design program has been halted and they’re not even working on it right now, your guess is as good as mine. However, based on the current market and where things are going, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the final design announced sometime by 2024. As far as a first flight goes, it could be as early as 2026 with the first entry into service by 2028 or so. That’s my guess.
A few final words about the design of this 797 concept
Because I like to keep things interesting, I’m not going to update this particular post once the final design of the 797 is revealed. I personally find it amusing to go back and look at old design concepts of different objects, only to laugh and giggle about how silly and ambitious they may have seemed at the time.
I’ll create an entirely different post for the final version of the 797 templates, whenever that comes. It’s probably going to be a while, so don’t expect anything soon…