FIRST DETAILS of Boeing's proposed 747-700X design reveal a "747-look" concept with the first change in the fuselage cross-section since the baseline 747 was designed in the 1960s (Flight International, 4-10 September).

Boeing Commercial Airplane Group president Ron Woodard says: "The design of our 747-600X will allow for a larger derivative, which we refer to as the 747-700X. We would "re-body" the -600X with a wider fuselage while retaining the existing wing, systems, engines, struts and landing gear."

The -700X, although likely to be redesignated with a new model number if ultimately launched, follows the overall look of the 747 design with a raised, stretched upper deck. It does not, however, follow the trend of Airbus, McDonnell Douglas and even Boeing studies in having a continuous double-deck. "We get nervous about double deckers: we believe this is a certifiable configuration," says Woodard.

The preliminary design has the same 77m span as that of the -600X, but an overall length of 85m. The tail height has been raised to 23m. The aircraft would carry up to 650 passengers across ranges similar to those achieved by the -400. The fuselage width would be increased by roughly one seat per side (about 1.5m).

The relatively sudden appearance of the -700X is being widely interpreted as a Boeing counter-attack against the recent Airbus announcements of the A3XX family. The "747-look" outline design was one of several produced in 1993 as a result of New Large Airplane and 747X design studies.

Woodard stresses that the -700X is part of a long-term plan. "We do not see a market requirement that would permit a financially viable programme for an aircraft this size. This is why our development efforts are clearly focused on the -500X and -600X," he says.

Boeing, in the meantime, has secured its first commitments from Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and Thai Airways International to order up to 18 747-500/600Xs

Source: Flight International