Boeing Shelves 747X to Focus on Faster Jet

Boeing is shelving plans for its giant 747X and instead will focus on developing the "Sonic Cruiser" a radically new jetliner that will travel at nearly the speed of sound, the aerospace company announced Thursday.

Boeing officials said there simply wasn't a market for the larger 747, designed to compete with archrival Airbus Industries new A380 superjumbo. While Airbus has received 66 orders for its 555-seat jet, no customers have ordered the larger 747, which would have carried 525 passengers.

Instead, Boeing released drawings for an aircraft unlike any other existing commercial jet, with a delta wing near its tail, two smaller wings near the nose, and a pair of engines blended into the wing.

The new aircraft could lead to a family of airplanes that could carry 100-300 passengers while cruising at Mach .95, just under the speed of sound. Sound travels at Mach 1, about 750 mph at sea level or 660 mph at 30,000 feet above sea level.

The 15% to 20% gain in speed could mean cutting more than an hour from some U.S. air routes, about two hours on some trans-Atlantic flights and up to three hours on some Pacific routes.

The new plane also would have the potential to fly farther than any other commercial aircraft, with a range estimated at 10,350 miles. Mulally said the plane could be flying by 2006 or 2007.

The aircraft would cruise at around 41,000 feet, about 5,000 feet higher than most other commercial jets, but could climb to 45,000 feet.

Flight International Magazine, a trade publication, reported this week that Boeing plans to invite up to 12 key airlines by the end of May to help plan the new jets. A similar group of airlines was used to advise Boeing in developing its 777 jet family in the early 1990s.

People's Daily Online ---