BOEING HAS AGREED to airline demands to offer a full fly-by-wire (FBW) flight-control system and other advanced-technology features on its new 747-500X and -600X.

The US manufacturer has also told its airline working group that, despite the move to FBW and other 777-like technology features, the stretched 747 derivatives could still be ready for entry into service by December 2000. "That's the part we were very pleased with," says one of the 17-strong advisory-group members. "Boeing has basically started with the original target in-service date and worked backwards, and still thinks it can do it," he adds. The group was originally warned that inclusion of features such as FBW could push certification back to 2002.

Boeing originally steered away from FBW for several reasons, including those of systems and crew commonality, saying: "Our only problem with FBW is that we wanted to keep common crew-rating between the 747-400, -500 and -600. Now, Boeing has decided it might as well certificate as a new type, so that issue changes."

Boeing is now actively marketing the new stretched 747 models, even though its board has not yet formally authorised the company to offer the pair. Most of the major design decisions have been taken and much of it is based around the architecture and functionality of the 777. "We're aiming for design freeze for all functionality, such as the baseline inclusion of FANS-1/2 [the future air-navigation system] within the month of September," says a programme source. A September launch at the Farnborough air show is still possible.

The initial 747-500X design now being offered to airlines is 79m long and would fly 487 passengers in a three-class arrangement over a 15,100km (8,200nm) range. The larger -600X would have a fuselage length of 85m and carry 546 passengers up to 13,875km.

Source: Flight International