posted on Apr, 1 2005 @ 05:49 AM
Within the next 3 - 5 years, we are expecting to see a number of new aircraft from the main two producers, Airbus and Boeing, namely being the 787,
the A350 and the A380. But what else is there planned? This information is taken from several sources.
In an earlier post, I raised the possibility of a new A390 supersonic jet based on information from a friend at Rolls Royce. This has yet to be
confirmed, so I wont dwell on it.
The A390 designation also popped up in July 2004, when Airbus tentatively announced plans to research a 2600 passenger jet based on a cross between
the A380 and the A300-600ST Beluga. The aircraft would have a seven deck layout, and a range of 9,000nm. There has only been one announcement tho,
so it seems likely that Airbus have dropped this project for now.
The A300/A310 aircraft are reaching the end of their production runs, so it is likely that either new aircraft models will be created to fill the
void, or other models will have variants created to provide for the same market. Airbus is looking into producing a stretched version of the A320,
called the A322, and also a reduced size version of the A330, called the A330-500. It is likely however that a new aircraft, given the A305 by
Airbus, will be produced to bridge the gap between the 120 passenger capacity of the A320 and the 230 passenger capacity of the A330.
Boeing announced in the early 1990s a program to develop a fully double decker version of the 747, called the 747x, but it shelved plans when it saw
that Airbus was ahead of it on the development side, and any late-to-market offerings would suffer a distinct disadvantage in the very small market
that is the Super Heavies class. For now, it would seem that the 747x has been shelved, tho Boeing has indicated that if the market for such a class
does improve, it could start producing them.
One project that was heavily researched after airlines said they would prefer a new model rather than an uprated 747 version, was the 763-246C
concept. An ultrawidebodied aircraft, seating between 450 and 550 passengers in a 2-4-4-2 configuration, with sleeping berths on an upper deck. THis
program has been temporarily suspended due to lack of market space at the high end.
With the loss of the 757, Boeing settled on the 787 (origionally called the 7E7 or Project Yellowstone) to cover this class of aircraft, as well as
providing for a more efficient alternative to the 767, A330 and A340 over certain routes.
Boeing hoped to catch the markets attention with the Sonic Cruiser concept, a sleekly designed aircraft which was meant to cruise at Mach 0.95
efficiently. The program was announced in 2001 and was meant to be a 767/A320 competitor aircraft, with a range of 9,000 to 11,000nm. The program
was shelved in December 2002 due to poor reception after September 11th 2001. This is a pity because its a damn nice looking aircraft - one I would
have loved to fly in.
The only program known to be under active development within Boeing at the moment, is the Blended Wing Body aircraft, designed to carry anything from
500 to 800 passengers in a non conventional flattened spherical cabin, on a two deck basis. This would be an interesting concept to see in
production, but Boeing has yet to announce any plans for a production model. I hope this one makes it!