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What If? 747-500X And 747-600X  
User currently offlineFlyCaledonian From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2003, 2072 posts, RR: 3
Posted (9 months 4 weeks 1 day ago) and read 9155 times:

I was pondering one of those what if questions. What if Boeing hd got enough interest from airlines in the late 1990s and had been able to launch the 747-500X and 747-600X? (I'm assuming here that Beoing was able to price it in such a way that the airlines were happy to buy it)

* Would there have been incentive for Boeing to launch the 77W if it had an improved 747 with a 777 type wing?
* Would a 747-500X/747-600X platform have given an improved platform from which a 747-8 could be an effective challanger to the A380?

I've always been struck by the fact that after a successful 777 launch, then the update and launch of the 737NG, Boeing seemed to struggle to do a similar update of the 747, 757 and 767.


Let's Go British Caledonian!
9 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineWAC From United States of America, joined Nov 2008, 275 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (9 months 4 weeks 1 day ago) and read 9041 times:

Quoting FlyCaledonian (Thread starter):
I've always been struck by the fact that after a successful 777 launch, then the update and launch of the 737NG, Boeing seemed to struggle to do a similar update of the 747, 757 and 767.

The 777 and 747 are different breed of aircraft.
737NG was successful as the biggest market in the world is for aircraft between 130-200 seats.
Boeing dedicated all their resources to the 777 program. The real questions is why the 787 was not as a succesful launch as the 777 (not sales wise more technical or operationally) I would argue the 787 program was a bit too ambitious-i.e. revolutionary while the 777 program was evolutionary.
(I have no doubt in the 787 in becoming a successful program in the future)


User currently offlinetexl1649 From United States of America, joined Aug 2007, 293 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (9 months 4 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 8954 times:

Boeing was going to go all in on the twin regardless, as they had to counteract the 330. No 747 model was going to do that, and Boeing mgt knew that.

User currently offlinehoMsar From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 1153 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (9 months 4 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 8230 times:

Quoting FlyCaledonian (Thread starter):
I was pondering one of those what if questions. What if Boeing hd got enough interest from airlines in the late 1990s and had been able to launch the 747-500X and 747-600X? (I'm assuming here that Beoing was able to price it in such a way that the airlines were happy to buy it)

* Would there have been incentive for Boeing to launch the 77W if it had an improved 747 with a 777 type wing?
* Would a 747-500X/747-600X platform have given an improved platform from which a 747-8 could be an effective challanger to the A380?

Most likely scenario is the 777-300ER would still have been launched. Airlines would have demanded it. It may not have been launched quite as soon, but it would still exist (and if it was launched later, then that only means Airbus would have won more orders for the A340-600).

The 747-500/600 may have sold a little bit, but unless we're assuming some significant alternate course of economic history, sales probably would have stalled out. Airbus would have gone ahead with the A380 anyway, and while the newer 747s may have taken some of the orders, I don't think it would have done all that much damage.

Ultimately, they probably would have been relative duds, maybe not quite as bad as the 747SP and 767-400ER were, and the 747-8 will be (because they also would have taken sales away from the 747-400, and the 747-400ER probably wouldn't have been developed), but they wouldn't set the market on fire.

If you think about it, if the 747-8, with all the various design advancements included that became available, can't compete against the A380 or 777, a plane with technology that is 12 or so years older would be at an even greater disadvantage. And if Boeing was still reeling from the costs of developing a 747-500 and/or -600, they probably wouldn't be all that interested in spending even more money on the -8, so at best you might have a slightly upgraded 747-600, which in today's market would fare even worse than the -8.

The biggest reason the 747-500 and 600 didn't get built is because airlines didn't want to order them. To change that fact, you'd have to change the underlying economic forces that caused that condition. You can "assume" that they were able to price it at a level where airlines could buy it, but what does that mean? Wave a magic wand and build them for free? Find efficient production techniques that made the planes cheaper to build (yet somehow didn't make 777s equally cheaper to build, so airlines wouldn't still want the 777)? Or, they could just price them below cost and take a loss on the sales in order to sell the planes. The flip side is to assume that airlines in the late 1990s were in a healthier financial position (which means things like SARS or the Asian Financial Crisis never happened) and could afford the higher prices. But if you make that assumption, then lots and lots of history changes, and who knows what would have happened even two years later, let alone 15.

The fact is that fuel prices have gone up, and the global economy has had some turbulent times over the past decade and a half. Those two factors have pushed airlines to demand fuel efficiency, which the 747 simply can't offer. Therefore, it's really hard to see any scenario that would put us in a significantly different position than we are in today.

Quote:
I've always been struck by the fact that after a successful 777 launch, then the update and launch of the 737NG, Boeing seemed to struggle to do a similar update of the 747, 757 and 767.

It's not so much that Boeing has "struggled" to update the planes (though Boeing never even tried to update the 757, so I don't think that counts as a struggle if they don't even attempt). It's that the planes just weren't right for the market of the 2000s. The 747 doesn't offer airlines much that the 777-300ER can't already do, and that fact won't change no matter what Boeing does (it's a matter of physics). Since Boeing scrapped the 747-500 and -600 in the late 1990s, they haven't really put much effort into the VLA market because they simply don't believe there is enough of a market to make investment worthwhile. Once Airbus got into the game with the A380, which has the advantage of having been designed from scratch three-plus decades after the 747, the best Boeing could seriously do is keep them in check with the 747 to prevent Airbus from making runaway profits on sales. The only way Boeing could seriously compete in that size range is with an all-new design, which they simply aren't willing to do.

The 767 had the stillborn -400ERX, but Boeing ultimately realized they needed a new design, which, after they aborted the Sonic Cruiser, is where the 787 came from. If not for the military contracts, the 767 line would have been shut down a couple years ago.

The 757 just became redundant once the 737 grew enough in capabilities to do the vast majority of the 757's missions at a much lower cost.

So really, except for the 500+ seat market, Boeing has already updated those product lines. They're just not called 747, 757 or 767 anymore.



I was raised by a cup of coffee.
User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 30546 posts, RR: 84
Reply 4, posted (9 months 4 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 8148 times:
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Quoting hoMsar (Reply 3):
The biggest reason the 747-500 and 600 didn't get built is because airlines didn't want to order them.


TG and MH were in for a dozen and BA was looking at it. One could also expect other large Asian 747 operators (SQ, CX, NH, JL, KE) were at least interested (some were on the Working Group). Unfortunately for Boeing, they launched it just before the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997, which negatively impacted the those Asian operators Boeing was expecting to be the bulk of customers. And even before the crisis officially started in July 1997, the US dollar appreciated significantly against Asian currencies, which would have significantly increased the actual price Asian customers would have paid, which no doubt started to dampen their enthusiasm. Then add the actual crisis...


Quoting hoMsar (Reply 3):
The 747-500/600 may have sold a little bit, but unless we're assuming some significant alternate course of economic history, sales probably would have stalled out. Airbus would have gone ahead with the A380 anyway, and while the newer 747s may have taken some of the orders, I don't think it would have done all that much damage.

If the Asian bubble had continued, rather then burst, I think both planes would have proven popular. They offered significantly more capacity and range performance than the 747-400.



Quoting hoMsar (Reply 3):
The 767 had the stillborn -400ERX, but Boeing ultimately realized they needed a new design,

The 767-400ERX depended on the RR and Engine Alliance engines being developed for the 747-500X and 747-600X. When that program ended, so did the engine programs. So there was no engine available for the plane. Now, if it had 30 orders instead of 3, that probably would have convinced GE, RR or P&W to push forward with an upgrade to their existing 767 engines, but the interest didn't appear to be there.

[Edited 2013-09-28 13:01:13]

User currently offlinezippyjet From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 5475 posts, RR: 13
Reply 5, posted (9 months 4 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 7955 times:

As others have mentioned, the trend was twin engined airliners even with large capacity equipment. When the 747 was developed and rolled out, engine technology was not what is today so you needed 3 and 4 engines. Also way back in the 60's the 747 as a passenger transport was supposed to be a short term program as the SST was still on the front burners and under development. So, the hump back jumbo would have been relegated to cargo and military duty. And, the 747 was basically for overwater/international travel.


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User currently offlineFlyCaledonian From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2003, 2072 posts, RR: 3
Reply 6, posted (9 months 4 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 6750 times:

Quoting zippyjet (Reply 5):
As others have mentioned, the trend was twin engined airliners even with large capacity equipment.

The 747-500X and 747-600X were both proposed in 1996 though, before the large twins really took off.

The 777 was only just new to the market, with the 777-200ER the only long range model alongside the 777-200 and 777-300 for intercontinental missions (though the 773 could have been used TATL).

The A330 was also at this time was really more of an intercontinental plane, though EI was using it TATL.

The A340 and MD-11 were still there, alongside the 744 which was selling well - BA alone took delivery of 23 in the three years of 1997-99, with more on order that were cancelled for 777s, but that was partly due to the Asian financial crisis and also the Ayling strategy of relying more on O&D and higher yielding transfer traffic rather than sheer volume.

The A345/A346 came along to try and capture for Airbus 747 classic markets, and also take sales from the 744, but the 77W then came along and blew it out of the market. But if the 747-500X alone was there, would Boeing have come out with the 77W when it did? I agree, it would have come eventually but equally I accept that once it did it might have been enough to kill the 747 off completely.



Let's Go British Caledonian!
User currently offlineJHwk From United States of America, joined Jan 2013, 219 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (9 months 4 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 5159 times:

History would never have been kind to it: it couldn't be launched before 1995, and without an EIS of early 1998 they would have never sold enough copies to make sense before 9/11 when any remaining orders would be cancelled.

...almost as good of a time as the 748!


User currently offlineAY-MD11 From Finland, joined Feb 2001, 472 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (9 months 4 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 2971 times:

What if the 747-600x would be developed,would it mean that A380 would be the -900 stretch from the start and not the -800? -600 is similar size or bigger? than A380-800. Interesting that boeing was going to put four nose wheel gear on the new 747! dont know why they where thinking that?! 747-8 and A380 seems to do fine with two.

User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 30546 posts, RR: 84
Reply 9, posted (9 months 4 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 2182 times:
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Quoting AY-MD11 (Reply 8):
What if the 747-600x would be developed,would it mean that A380 would be the -900 stretch from the start and not the -800? -600 is similar size or bigger? than A380-800

The 747-600 was 85m long with a 78m span and would have seated 550 in a three class Boeing OEM configuration.


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