Friday, April 8, 2011

Is this Boeing's rendering of its composite 737 replacement?

Is this Boeing's rendering of its composite 737 replacement?: "
NLT Concept.jpg
Wearing a subtle and nearly opaque Boeing company livery, this rendering of a 33 787-sized windowed passenger aircraft looks to be the first early concept for the 737 replacement, the first of its kind outside the four walls of Product Development.

The image comes from a presentation by Dr. Charles Harris, who serves as Director of the Research Directorate at NASA's Langely Research Center, who earlier this week gave a presentation to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the 52nd Structures, Structural Dynamics, and Materials Conference in Denver, Colorado. In his detailed 54-slide powerpoint presentation, Dr. Harris outlined the future material requirements for aircraft, while focusing on the use of composite technology.

Slide 54 of Opportunities for Next Generation Aircraft Enabled by Revolutionary Materials (PDF) contains an interesting title: Future Materials Requirements (Boeing Perspective) with near-term, mid-term and far-term goals for using composite technology in a commercial jetliner. While the goals for the technology are fascinating in their own right, each element sits on top of a rendering that was provided to NASA by The Boeing Company.

The rendering may begin to give away some clues on the possible configuration of this particular aircraft, which includes 33 large windows, two full size exit doors and two smaller Type II exit doors, suggesting a passenger configuration equivalent to, or slightly larger than, the 215-seat 737-900ER.

The windows, whose number is equivalent to the 110 and 126-seat 737-600 and -700, would not be spaced this far apart for an aircraft of similar capacity along with exits as large as they appear in the rendering. One conclusion to draw is this is the New Light Twin (NLT) concept with seven-abreast seating covering 30+ rows and a capacity of about 230 seats in a single-class configuration.

Undoubtedly, this design is a conservative look at what Boeing envisions for a 230-seat composite jetliner fitting into a spot just above the 757. It's important to remember that the original 7E7 design looked like a scaled down 777 when it was first unveiled, containing barely any of the iconic design elements of the 7E7's shark fin and the final 787 design.

If nothing else, it provides a first visual glimpse into what Boeing engineers are thinking as far as the configuration of its new jetliner that may see service around 2019 or 2020.
Also See: Clean-Sheet - Boeing's all-new jet - PART I / PART II / PART III

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