Boeing recently released their future 747 family data in this weeks Aviation and Space Technology Weekly. Here is what the article said.
"Boeing has launched a major campaign to lure key Asian airlines away from the proposed Airbus A3XX with three improved 747 offerings that promise operating costs as much as 24% below the 747-400, depending upon the mission."
"The Boeing sales pitch stresses its stretched 747 will have similar operating costs as the A3XX but lower acquisition costs, put by one Qantas official at almost 30 million less."
"The first Boeing derivative, to be available in 2002, is a more capable 747-400, dubbed the 747-400X. It would have the same dimensions as the current aircraft but an increase of 35,000lb in maximum take off weight to 910,000lb. This aircraft would use the strengthened 747-400F wing and would have an additional 500 mi of range to 8,850 statute miles, or carry 15,000lb more payload, Boeing said. Extra fuel would be carried in two fuel tanks, each holding 3,180 U.S. gallons, located forward of the wing box where protable water is now stored. The -400X also would receive a 777 styled interior plus some flight deck upgrades. The enhancements would allow full payload performance in all winds from Singapore to London."
"While the -400X provides valuable performance improvements, the real competition to the A3XX comes from adding a highly modified wing to two other potential 747 derivatives, called the 747X Stretch and the 747X. They could be available in the first half of 2005 --six months ahead of the A3XX, according to Boeing officials."
"As envisioned, the modified wing would have an increased span of 17.5ft, largely due to a relofted and extended inboard section to a total of 228ft. 11in. It would incorporate 777 wing aerodynamics. Other improvements include: simpler, double slotted flaps; drooped ailerons for takeoff and a trailing edge wedge on the outboard wing. These refinements would lift teh rewinged 747's top speed from Mach 0.85 to 0.86. The higher capacity 747X Stretch would accomodate 504 passengers and have a range of 8,980 statute miles. It has attracted the most interest from airlines, according to Roundhill."
"The final model, the 747X, would have a passenger capcity of 430 and a range of 10,330 statute miles. It would carry 18 more passengers than the 747-400 due to a slight fuselage length increase associated with the updated wing's larger wing box. The 747X's range, slightly more than the 777-200LR, would be ideal for routes such as Singapore-New York/Los Angeles or Dallas-Sydney nonstop, Boeing said. Maximum takeoff weight for both models with the modified wing would climb to 1,043,000lb., which also could improve payload capability."
"Engine choice for the 747X and 747X Stretch would be either the Rolls Royce Trent 600 or the Pratt & Whitney/General Electric Engine Alliance GP 7000, each rated at 68,000lb. of thrust. All models would incorporate a 777 style cabin with new treatment also for the upper deck."
Well, there you have it. We have speculated on what Boeing's response would be to the A3XX and now we have some numbers to chew on. The 24% better operating costs over the 747-400 is interesting to me as the A3XX has been found to only have 8-12% better costs. This data was compiled by Qantas when the evaluated the A3XX for their fleet some months ago. Well, this sure will be an interesting few months.
"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or timid." D. Eisenhower