The Boeing 7J7 was a short- to medium-range airliner proposed by the United States aircraft manufacturer Boeing in the 1980s. It would have carried 150 passengers and was touted as the successor to the successful Boeing 727. It was initially planned to enter service in 1992. This was intended as a highly fuel-efficient aircraft employing new technologies, but it was cancelled when the price of oil dropped during the 1980s.
Design and development
The 7J7 was planned to include advanced technology and electronics, such as:
- fly-by-wire flight control system by Bendix
- glass cockpit by Honeywell utilizing LCDs
- advanced integrated avionics suite
- widespread use of high-strength composites such as carbon-fiber
- two General Electric GE36 UDF rear-mounted advanced technology contra-rotating unducted fan (propfan) engines.
The sum of all these features promised better fuel consumption by more than 60% compared to any existing large passenger aircraft technology at the time. "Efficiency" was the key theme. The 7J7 was to have a twin-aisle (2+2+2) seating configuration, giving an unprecedented wide and spacious cabin for its class, with no passenger more than one seat from an aisle.
It was also unprecedented in its foreign content with Japan having 25% industrial workshare. Potential customers were concerned about the economics and noise of the unproven propfan engines. Boeing cancelled the 7J7 in 1987 and instead concentrated its resources on further developments of the Boeing 737 and the Boeing 757.
The project's cancellation (as disappointing as it was to the Japanese aviation industry) signaled a new era of cooperation between Boeing and Japanese suppliers. Japanese companies contributed significantly larger percentages of subsequent Boeing projects (about 15% of the Boeing 767 and 25% of the Boeing 777).
Japanese industry continues to be a primary foreign partner on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Competing with the 7J7 for airline interest was the McDonnell Douglas MD-94X, also powered by propfans, and the Airbus A320. The A320 featured a lot of similar advanced technology and electronics but was powered by conventional turbofan engines. The Boeing 737 Next Generation and the 777 incorporate many of the proposed 7J7 improvements.
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