This story was first published on April 19, 2012
The message shown below, which has circulated via email and other means since at least 2006, informs recipients that aerospace giant Boeing will soon launch its Boeing 797, a 1000 seat passenger jet that sports a radical new blended wing design.
According to the message, the 797 has been developed in direct response to the Airbus A380 and is set to “reshape the air travel industry”. The message features several images supposedly depicting the Boeing 797 in action, including one that it claims was shot “last month” by an amateur photographer. The original 2006 version of the message included only the first image in the series, while further images were added in later incarnations.
However, the claims in the message are untrue. A Boing 797 will indeed be launched in coming years. However, the real Boeing 797 will be nothing like the aircraft shown in the circulating images. And the message that comes with the images does not describe the upcoming Boeing 797. The new aircraft will not have a blended wing design and will seat 265 passengers, not 1000 as claimed in the message.
In fact, the message is just a long-running hoax. Although Boeing has worked on a blended wing non-commercial aircraft design ( as discussed below), it has no current plans to develop a blended wing “797” passenger aircraft.
The images in the message are conceptual renderings of future aircraft. The first and original image of the “797” was reportedly a conceptual design that was featured in a Popular Science article about future aviation.
Boeing quashed the rumour back in November 2006, soon after the original message began circulating, noting via a blog post:
From Boulder, Colorado, Walter brings up a topic we frequently get questioned about: the “blended wing” concept. Earlier this year an image of a blended wing “797” made the rounds of the Internet, and got speculation swirling that Boeing has this in the works.
Is there any truth to the emails showing a blended wing 1,000-passenger concept that is dubbed a Boeing 797? Makes sense that the airline industry would head this direction some day, but it just sounds too good to be true!
Yes, too good to be true, indeed, Walter. Someone was having a bit of fun with PhotoShop perhaps. Boeing is not planning to build a 1,000 passenger commercial airplane dubbed the “797,” based on the blended wing body (BWB) concept or any other futuristic concept. It’s certainly not in our commercial market forecast, which goes out for 20 years. We think the commercial airplane market favors point-to-point routes, and we’re developing the 787 as the perfect match to help meet that demand.
Glen, from Warrington, Pennsylvania brings up the same subject:
Is there a blended wing in the works? Are there floor plans of it?
No, not for a commercial airplane. But having said that, I should point out that Boeing Phantom Works, the company’s advanced research and development group, tells me it is conducting research on the BWB concept with NASA and the U.S. Air Force. They’re working to better understand what they describe as the BWB’s “fundamental edge-of-the-envelope flight dynamics” and structural characteristics. The Air Force is interested in the BWB concept for its potential as a flexible, long-range, high-capacity military aircraft. As part of the research, Phantom Works has built a scale model for wind-tunnel testing of the concept’s low-speed flying characteristics. There also are plans to flight-test the scale model next year. You can read a little more about this project here.
Since that blog post was first published, Boeing and NASA have further developed the blended wing aircraft concept in the from of the X-48, an unmanned test aircraft.
Blended wing technology may well play a role in the future of commercial aviation. But, don’t expect to book a flight on a blended wing Boeing 797 any time soon.
Subject: BOEING 797 ……..WOW
Better get a window seat…… BOEING 797 It can comfortably fly 10,000 Miles at Mach 0.88 or 654 mph with 1000 passengers on board ! They have kept this secret long enough. This shot was taken last month by an amateur photographer.
Boeing has been preparing a 1000 passenger jet that could reshape the Air travel industry for the next 100 years. The radical Blended Wing design has been developed by Boeing in cooperation with the NASA Langley Research Center. The mammoth plane will have a wing span of 265 feet compared to the 747’s 211 feet, and is designed to fit within the newly created terminals used for the 555 seat Airbus A380, which is 262 feet wide. The new 797 is in direct response to the Airbus A380 which has racked up159 orders, but has not yet flown any passengers.
The new 797 is Boeing’s direct response to the Airbus A380, which has racked up orders for 159 already. Boeing decided to kill its 747X Stretched Super Jumbo in 2003 after little interest was shown for it by Airline Companies, but continued to develop its “Ultimate Airbus Crusher”, the 797 at its Phantom Works Research Facility in Long Beach, California. The Airbus A380 had been in the works since 1999 and has accumulated $13 Billion in development costs, which gives Boeing a huge advantage. More so because Airbus is thus committed to the older style tubular structure for their aircraft for decades to come.
There are several big advantages in the “Blended Wing & Fuselage” design, the most important being the ‘Lift to Drag’ ratio which is expected to increase by an amazing 50%, resulting in an overall weight reduction of the aircraft by 25%, making it an estimated 33% more fuel efficient than the A380, and thus making the Airbus’s $13 Billion Dollar investment look pretty shaky. “High Airframe Rigidity” is another key factor in the “Blended Wing & Fuselage” technology. It reduces turbulence and creates less stress on the airframe which adds to fuel efficiency, giving the 797 a tremendous 10,000 Mile range with 1,000 passengers on board cruising comfortably at Mach 0.88 or 654 MPH, which gives it another advantage over the tube-and-wing designed A380’s 570 MPH.
The exact date ! for introduction of the 797 is as yet unclear, but the battle lines are clearly drawn in the high-stakes war for future civilian aircraft supremacy.