The next Boeing 707

uk 75

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
3,568
Reaction score
2,457
Not sure where to put this. I still believe that the Boeing 707 is the most important postwar airliner. It set the pattern for the majority of modern airliners. With the demise of Concorde and the 727 family, all large airliners follow the pattern of a swept wing fitted with podded engines. Now these are usual only two.
I have reams of artists' impressions of what people thought 21 Century airliners would look like. The reality looks pretty close to a 707, especially if decked out in legacy color/colour schemes.
Well, we have some pretty knowledged and inventive folk here. With the first quarter of the Century gone what might the next Boeing 707 look like.
The big change will have to be a new powerplant that does not use fossile fuel. A hybrid of solar power, batteries and biofuel?
This might lead to a new wingform. Greater lift but maybe slower speeds and longer range.
The fuselage may not be large. Perhaps we will revert to fewer people flying as high speed rail displaces as in Taiwan and China.
 

Opportunistic Minnow

ACCESS: Confidential
Joined
Nov 10, 2008
Messages
89
Reaction score
160
Technology has largely stagnated since the 1960s, if not earlier. You could definitely argue we have peaked technologically. Some of the latest and greatest concepts of the car industry could be found on any 1950s-era diesel-electric locomotive. There isn't really anything new there. The space shuttle, for all it's flaws could knock seven shades out of either Virgin's or Amazon's little toys. No reason to get excited.

Aerospace-wise, there isn't going to be another step-change like that offered by the Dash 80. Yes, we have transitioned to the twinjet at the expense of the quad but it is still very much of the moderately swept wing, podded engines, 707 vein and I don't see that changing for the time being. We have settled into something of a comfortable rut. Oh, the next model will be lighter, more efficient and have tweaks here and there but the "A360" and "797" will look a an awful lot like the A300 and 767 in terms of configuration. Very much a case of evolution not revolution, at least for my lifetime (hopefully 2050+). That's not to say various companies won't trot out the occasional exotic concept plane but as for hardware, I'll believe it when I see it!

The various SST projects may have some modest success (though I doubt it) but the calculus hasn't really changed from the Concorde era, which didn't end that long ago. There may be a niche for them but only a niche. Hypersonics (Skylon et al) may get to the tech-demonstrator stage but probably not as far as fare-paying passengers.

Solar is a gimmick - maybe it will have an application for the lightest of general aviation but mentioning it in the same breath as a 707.....no, just no. Likewise batteries, waaay too heavy, unless you can get the needed electricity out of helium? Biofuel (should) have a future but in an ideal world would replace aviation fuel like-for-like so wouldn't in of itself lead to any configuration changes.

The future looks a lot like now I'm afraid, except the phones will be sub-dermal.

All just my opinion of course - I'd like to think it was worth the 2 cents at least but probably not more than that!
 

shin_getter

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Messages
522
Reaction score
561
Aerodynamics being what it is, I don't think airliners in the traditional role are going to be particularly surprising moving to the future. Even if the wing and tube design is retired, blended body/flying wing will not surprise aviation watchers just as ship forms would not surprise ship watchers in the 19th century.

What can and will change is scale and different use cases with changing economics: Now, those are guesses, if I could predict the future I'd be too rich to post here~

I think pilotless aircraft and "reduced human labor maintenance and inspection" technology will have huge impact on economics over time. The economic efficiency of large aircraft will be undermined and the future will be generations of smaller aircraft, with the definitive design fixed when human intervention requirement for safe operations is minimum. Celera 500L is a far sighted design concept, but is too early to be the definitive one.

Electric airliners also is a huge growth sectors whose design and operating concept is incomplete. I don't think transportation as a service "cares" about vehicle range between refuel(recharge), as long as the service supplies sufficient comfort at reasonable speeds. There are a few concepts that needs exploring IMO:
1. How to minimize impact of frequent stops. Perhaps fast battery pack swaps can be a thing.
2. How to use fast response distributed propulsion to not only improve efficiency, noise and, STOL performance (see frequent stops) but also improve aircraft stability (with help of powerful sensors). Airplanes are still far to exciting for comfortable sleep for many people, thank you~

The definitive operating concept for urban air mobility is also equally undefined, with the acceptable noise, footprint, safety, performance, range and cost being largely unknown. Only after the market and use case is defined that this can be known with clarity.
 
Last edited:

Opportunistic Minnow

ACCESS: Confidential
Joined
Nov 10, 2008
Messages
89
Reaction score
160
Technology has largely stagnated since the 1960s, if not earlier.
Hahahaha. The 1200 horsepower Tesla model S, a 5000 lb car, faster than Ferrari and Lamborghini would like to have a word with you.

Yes and they didn't have devices like the one I'm posting with now and myriad other things I need not list, hence my use of the qualifier "largely". Obviously some fields will have progressed moreso than others. To be more specific then, it remains my contention that the aeronautical state of the art has not significantly advanced from the 1960s. I would even go as far as to say that much is now a lost art.

Modernity is obviously better in some respects but by no means all!

I was going to make a snide comment as to the utility of the Tesla but I'll refrain. Barely.
 

Archibald

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
6,662
Reaction score
5,425
The present (boring) shape of airliners is related to a mix of economics and safety features, among others parameters.

We have been promised blended wing body airliners for decades yet none has entered airliner service yet. Why ? because passengers wants windows and needs to evacuate very quickly - and those two dumb facts, all by thmeselves, ensure that the "tube fuselage" with wings and tail will carry on for a veeeeery long time to come.

Note that Airbus and Boeing have done for decades a bazillion of CGI studies trying to tweak present airliner basic shape. Most of them quite ugly, in passing.
 

riggerrob

I really should change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2012
Messages
1,583
Reaction score
1,062
Like above posters have mentioned, solar has far too low a power density to work on anything except long-endurance drones.
OTOH renewable energy will change airport architecture with hangar roofs covered in solar panels.

Rising labour costs will force more ground operations to automate with fuel trucks. baggage loading and towing being done by self-driving robot tractors, trucks, etc. Galleys will be replenished by robots while other robots drain toilets. Snow-covered runways will be plowed by automated trucks.

Those tractors/mules will meet arriving airliners as they taxi off runways. They will grab nosewheels and tow planes to boarding ramps with (petroleum-powered) engines shut down. While at boarding ramps, shore power will re-charge airplanes' onboard batteries.
Once re-loaded, the same tugs will pull departing airliners to the departure runway. They will feed electricity to re-generating, wheel brakes (accelerating to take-off speed). Those same tugs will tow departing airliners down the runway, but dis-connect just before take-off speed. Then they will automatically drive themselves back to charging sites.

Galleys and baggage will be automatically loaded by robots. Similar robots will drain toilets.
Inflight meals will be delivered by over-head tracks and lowered onto passengers' (automatically deployed) tray tables.
 

Opportunistic Minnow

ACCESS: Confidential
Joined
Nov 10, 2008
Messages
89
Reaction score
160
The present (boring) shape of airliners is related to a mix of economics and safety features, among others parameters.

Indeed! I studied a joined-wing airliner at uni. Compared to a conventional design, it fell down on structural weight, wetted area and complicated evacuation paths (and probably more besides - it was long ago). Exotic just can't compete with boring!
 

TomcatViP

Hellcat
Joined
Feb 12, 2017
Messages
4,543
Reaction score
3,967
Well, airliner design will from now have to move on. The battle for cost effectiveness has reached a peak (not an apogee) leaving room for niche raw performance improvements. This is where Boom and the craze for electrics fill a void.

Today there is not much foreseeable breakthrough in cost effectiveness without mass production. That has reached such point where mass producers like Airbus and Boeing are endangering their eco-systems if they pursue that line to produce always more at the expense of their customers and prime contractors.

The door is then open for innovation: the market is ready, financiers are hungry to take the risk and most technologies are on the shelves.
 
Last edited:

Grey Havoc

ACCESS: USAP
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2009
Messages
16,722
Reaction score
6,285
High time to look again at designs like the Sonic Cruiser in the short term?
 

DWG

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Feb 11, 2007
Messages
1,385
Reaction score
1,554
The present (boring) shape of airliners is related to a mix of economics and safety features, among others parameters.

Indeed! I studied a joined-wing airliner at uni. Compared to a conventional design, it fell down on [...] complicated evacuation paths [...] Exotic just can't compete with boring!

Which raises the related point that airport design actually has a considerable effect on aircraft design. If you can't dock the aircraft to the terminal, then it complicates boarding considerably (and passengers will perceive it as a lower level of service). We've seen issues around aircraft size and airport access - sheer size for the A380, wingspan for 777-X and a variant layout such as BWB or joined wing will have much greater issues because it makes using a standard boarding arm much more complex. If the airports aren't ready for the aircraft, then will any airline be willing to buy it?
 

Hood

ACCESS: Top Secret
Staff member
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2006
Messages
2,542
Reaction score
2,873
All-electric long-haul is a non-starter with present and foreseeable technologies. By 2050 we might look back and think we were pessimistic.

BWB seems like a long-running white elephant, its never got to full-scale trials despite BWBs being on drawing boards since the late 1950s. I don't quite buy the window argument, the majority of passengers are not sitting near a window now on traditional tube designs anyway and virtual vision could be provided (at cost). Emergency escape is a big issue and perhaps the fuel-saving benefits have been overstated. Like the UHB engine, it's a bright idea but airlines and airport and manufacturers haven't aligned to make it reality and it feels too late in the day for its chance to fly given fossil-fuelled airliners are probably entering their final phase.

Hydrogen maybe, big maybe, still think the evaporation and physical bulk of tanks is going to make this problematic. And adding evaporated hydrogen is worse for global warming.

It may well be that cramming 300+passengers onto a long-haul 12hr+ flight is thing of the past. Might have to be smaller stage lengths on smaller aircraft - bit like the old flying boats, "we'll get you there eventually". The other alternative is hypersonic spam fritters but the economics are probably overdraft busting and the ecological aspects just as problematic as current aviation.
 

shin_getter

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Messages
522
Reaction score
561
Hmm, the whole electric aircraft problem basically mirrors the space launch problem in a different scale: the energy to mass ratio is simply too poor.

Perhaps it is time to exhaustively list out allllll teh space launch concepts and see if any would stick:
1. Add energy at launch
- Airport catapults/mass driver
2. Add energy during flight
- Beam power: Microwave electric, laser electric, laser thermal
- Airship in flight recharging/battery swap
- Airship tow lift glide
3. Lower mass in flight
- Battery dropping in flight (recovered on the surface)

So does any of that look remotely competitive with:
ammonia
or
pay stupid level for biofuels
or
hydrogen
 

uk 75

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
3,568
Reaction score
2,457
If you break air travel down into categories it becomes clearer what may happen.

Within country/region travel is going to increasingly move to high speed rail for business users while leisure travel may become shorter ranged for most of us if the electric car succeeds. The Rich will continue to use aircraft of some kind.

Oceanic/global travel is going to have to take a hit for the Environment. It is relatively recent, developing over the last 50 years with the Boeing 747.
Mass travel by widebody may well be killed by Covid and its successors.
The Rich will continue to find ways of high speed or exotic travel but the rest of us may find ourselves back in the 1950s.
Aircraft like modern versions of the DC7 in size will allow some long range travel but it will become much rarer.
Political post Covid sensitivity to borders will impact on this. Australia and New Zealand were major destinations for Brits. That will not come back.
Sea travel may as it did in the 50s offer a more economic alternative. Container traffic will be on more eco friendly ships but it has to carry on in some form as the world is too interdependent. Passenger facilities of varying kinds may evolve.
 

trose213

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Jul 29, 2018
Messages
274
Reaction score
136
Not sure where to put this. I still believe that the Boeing 707 is the most important postwar airliner. It set the pattern for the majority of modern airliners. With the demise of Concorde and the 727 family, all large airliners follow the pattern of a swept wing fitted with podded engines. Now these are usual only two.
I have reams of artists' impressions of what people thought 21 Century airliners would look like. The reality looks pretty close to a 707, especially if decked out in legacy color/colour schemes.
Well, we have some pretty knowledged and inventive folk here. With the first quarter of the Century gone what might the next Boeing 707 look like.
The big change will have to be a new powerplant that does not use fossile fuel. A hybrid of solar power, batteries and biofuel?
This might lead to a new wingform. Greater lift but maybe slower speeds and longer range.
The fuselage may not be large. Perhaps we will revert to fewer people flying as high speed rail displaces as in Taiwan and China.
Whatever can go HTHL SSTO with super low maintenance.
 

Archibald

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
6,662
Reaction score
5,425
That's how I become "transfixed" with suborbital refueling in the first place.

I wanted a rocketplane as close as possible to a stock airliner so that a) it can find a place at ordinary airports and b) airlines could use that bird to extend their business from "airline" to "spaceline" in the most straightforward maneer (PanAm in 2001, is that thou ?)

For that, I need jets, kerosene no to scare them. Takeoff on jets and make no more noise than an ordinary airliner. Break the sound barrier and lit the rocket only very high and very far from airports and their sensitive neighboroughs.

Of course oxidizer still has to be loaded at the airport, and unfortunately rocketry only offers wrong oxidizers
- LOX is too cold, -183°C
- 98% H2O2 has a bad rep for exploding
- N2O4 is a toxic and corrosive stuff
- N2O is quite gentle but a mild cryogen - and bad performance

And that's it, damn it. Goodbye, and screw you with only flawed oxidizers.

Luckily a smart guy has found N2O and LOX can be blended to try and get an honest compromise out of them: nytrox.

So, behold: a rocketplane with two jets and one rocket; burning the same kerosene fuel with nytrox for the rocket.

Two of them fly out of an ordinary airport, they rocket halfway to orbit before settling on a suborbital parabola for less than 5 minutes; they make the smallest and fastest nytrox transfer between them; after what the tanker glide back and land downrange, while the orbiter push into orbit.

Voilà... can't get that idea out of my head for a decade now.
 

Foo Fighter

I came, I saw, I drank some tea (and had a bun).
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Messages
2,302
Reaction score
1,236
As far as I can tell, the role of the 707 was transport for the average family and that role has already been taken by the 737 etc and airbus alternatives. What is specific about the 707 that other aircraft have not already been doing? With that in mind, what will be the next 737 class of aircraft be and what configuration?
 
Last edited:

shin_getter

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Messages
522
Reaction score
561
Within country/region travel is going to increasingly move to high speed rail for business users while leisure travel may become shorter ranged for most of us if the electric car succeeds. The Rich will continue to use aircraft of some kind.
I just don't see high speed rail taking up more of the market share. None of the technology and social process since the technology was first accessible has improved much. The Shinkensen competed with 1960s aircraft. The centralized and land dependent nature of the system means that it is only applicable in a small number of use cases that probably have been developed. While the projected death of fossil fuels hurts long range aircraft, the development of electric aircraft that halves operating costs within its optimal operating range means for short range travel aircraft is actually more competitive than before, and when you really think about it, aircraft actually have far better point to point potential and can actually be competitive when slower than a land vehicle, if only safety checks can be done faster.

Mass travel by widebody may well be killed by Covid and its successors.
With record record rollout of mRNA vaccine, the world is better protected in practice than ever. The psychological damage has been done though...
 

Archibald

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
6,662
Reaction score
5,425
I just don't see high speed rail taking up more of the market share. None of the technology and social process since the technology was first accessible has improved much. The Shinkensen competed with 1960s aircraft. The centralized and land dependent nature of the system means that it is only applicable in a small number of use cases that probably have been developed. While the projected death of fossil fuels hurts long range aircraft, the development of electric aircraft that halves operating costs within its optimal operating range means for short range travel aircraft is actually more competitive than before, and when you really think about it, aircraft actually have far better point to point potential and can actually be competitive when slower than a land vehicle, if only safety checks can be done faster.

TGV has been screwing Air Inter and Air France since day one, in 1972 - accelerating since 1981 and even today, with that new law: "4 hours or less by no-CO2-nuclear-electric-train = screw air travel". I note it was passed right in Parliament right in the middle of the COVID crisis already screwing air transport - how noble and courageous... !
 

DWG

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Feb 11, 2007
Messages
1,385
Reaction score
1,554
Within country/region travel is going to increasingly move to high speed rail for business users while leisure travel may become shorter ranged for most of us if the electric car succeeds. The Rich will continue to use aircraft of some kind.
I just don't see high speed rail taking up more of the market share.

It's going to be heavily country-dependent. I never fly in the UK anyway, it's always quicker and more convenient to take the train. I'm travelling to the other end of England in a day or two - 5 minutes to the station, get on the local train (Javelin, literal bullet train), change in London to the East Coast Main Line (Azuma, literal bullet train), change at the other end (not sure what it'll be, not a bullet train, but only 25 minutes), arrive 15 minute walk from my mother's. If I did it by flying I'd only have one aircraft leg, but two 40-60 minute car journeys, plus check-in. (I do technically have a check-in with the ECML, but that's only for needing passenger assistance to board and is only 30 minutes prior to departure, I can and have done it in 5 minutes going in the opposite direction).

If you're in the US, OTOH, the only thing really close to European high-speed rail is the North East Corridor, and even there the track really doesn't meet the grade in a lot of places.

While Germany with the ICE/IC networks shows how to really spread your high-speed rail network across the country (And beyond given integration into the high-speed networks of all the neighbouring countries).

We're starting to see the reopening of some local branch lines closed for economic reasons ('Beeching's Axe) in the 50s/60s. Some of that's political, but some of it was happening before it became a political thing. Local lines may not be high speed, but they feed into the high-speed network.

I suspect the big growth may actually be in goods traffic, trying to get HGVs off the road - there's actually a scheme being discussed at the minute to trial overhead powerlines over a section of UK motorway and equip lorries with pantographs and electric power, but it would make far more sense to use rail in most places in Europe (electrified rail is dominant on the Continent, but the UK still has a lot of diesel lines). One of the drivers for HS2, the big UK high-speed rail project, is to get passenger traffic off the WCML to allow it to be used more efficiently for goods traffic.
 

Foo Fighter

I came, I saw, I drank some tea (and had a bun).
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Messages
2,302
Reaction score
1,236
Problem with that is that HS2 and HS2.5 or HS3 is that they will essentially remove funding for currently used local lines, let alone opening any closed lines. In favour though, would be the opening of these lines to companies like Amazon et al for goods AND local traffic and the almost nationalisation of the rail transport companies due tp the lower profit companies wanting out due to losing money. None of them will invest in new rail stock unless the profits support this. How on earth do they justify people paying for season tickets and then standing for the whole journey in overcrowded carriages?

Just to explain, I'm talking about the need for 'local' depot's for individual deliveries via electric delivery vehicles.
 
Last edited:

DWG

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Feb 11, 2007
Messages
1,385
Reaction score
1,554
Well, HS2 and re-opening closed lines (Blyth, for instance) are currently happening in parallel, so they aren't mutually exclusive, though personally what I'd like to see is a consistent investment in electrification so diesel lines become much less common. WRT rolling stock, the franchise agreements have typically seen the Train Operating Companies required to provide new stock as part of the franchise agreements*, which is where all the Class 80x etc have come from, but how that will transfer into the new regime where they're paid for running services, rather than paying for the right to run services, remains to be seen.

<quote>
Just to explain, I'm talking about the need for 'local' depot's for individual deliveries via electric delivery vehicles.
</quote>

Which, without electric vehicles, is what we had right through until the '80s with Parcelforce (if I've got the right BR subsidiary). Its economics would be even better in the Amazon era.

* And forced to retire older stock due to the legal need for all stock to be accessible by 2020 - that's almost done now!
 

Similar threads

Top