Boeing's proposed 747-500X ultra-long-range aircraft will be able to fly London-Perth non-stop, programme manager Jon Hayhurst said at the Show yesterday.

"That's probably the most commercially significant route to potential customers," says Hayhurst who adds that the aircraft will also be capable of flying non-stop between Dakar and Chicago (Great Circle Route), Los Angeles and Singapore or Dallas and Hong Kong.

Hayhurst was outlining more details of the $5 billion plus programme to build growth versions of the 747-400, the first of which could be in service by the end of 2000.

An all-new wing will be built for both models, fly-by-wire technology used and "sculpted architecture" interiors will feature as in the Boeing 777.

The first aircraft to be built is likely to be the 600X which will carry 548 passengers on routes up to 14,000km (7,750nm). The 747-400 typically carries 416 passengers up to 13,000km.

The 500X should follow about 12 months later. It will carry 462 passengers on routes as long as 16,000km.

"There will be a brand-new wing which incorporates the aerodynamic technology developed for the 777," says Hayhurst.

"We have new landing gear with 20 main gear wheels as opposed to 16 on the 400."

Airports will probably need some modifications to accommodate the new larger aircraft, says Hayhurst but he does not see that adversely affecting potential sales.

Hayhurst refuses to be drawn on the number of launch orders Boeing considers necessary before proceeding, or whether the company is still planning a spectacular announcement on first customers at the Show.




Source: Flight Daily News