Boeing eyes launch of mid-sized Boeing 797 for 2019, flying by 2025

By David Flynn, July 15 2018
Boeing eyes launch of mid-sized Boeing 797 for 2019, flying by 2025

The Boeing 797 – a mid-range jet that's expected to change both domestic and international business travel in Australia – is now likely to launch in 2019, although it won't actually take wing until 2025.

In Boeing's parlance a "launch" means offering the jet to airlines, although it'll still be a 'paper plane' which exists on the drawing board rather than on the assembly line.

And that launch is now tipped to happen in the next 12-18 months, says Boeing CEO Dennis Mullenburg.

"We don’t feel rushed to make a decision," he told The Financial Times ahead of this week's Farnborough air show this week. Mullenberg added that he "would anticipate to make a launch decision next year," which would "be consistent with a 2025 entry into service."

Flying into the sweet spot

Still officially labelled as a 'middle of market' jet, but widely expected to be christened the Boeing 797, the aeroplane would be larger than the Boeing 737 MAX series but smaller than the Boeing 787.

The seat count of the twin-aisle Boeing 797 is expected to be around 220 passengers assuming a two-class layout of business and economy, or as many as 270 in the all-economy floorpan favoured by low-cost airlines.

Boeing plans to build two variants of the 797, says Boeing marketing vice president Randy Tinseth. "One will be bigger and fly not quite as far, one will be smaller and fly farther."

Its range would top out at 10-11 hours, which for Australia – and potential customer Qantas – would encompass popular Asian routes such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Shanghai.

However, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has also talked up the opportunity for the Boeing 797 to take over flights on the busy Sydney and Melbourne corridor as well as domestic east-west routes.

While Sydney-Melbourne is a billion dollar route for Qantas, it's also a highly congested one.

“We’re now at the cap of 80 movements an hour for four or five hours every day already," Joyce told Australian Business Traveller in late 2017 on board the airline's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

"By 2026, when this aircraft is proposed to be produced, the airport will probably completely full by then. So the way to grow will be bigger and bigger gauge aircraft," with the added appeal of the Boeing 797 being able to do its 'turn-around' from inbound to outbound flights as fast as the Boeing 737.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jul 2013

Total posts 35

I’m assuming it won’t be of the “blended wing” variety we’ve seen photoshopped for years....! As one who travels with their partner on long haul, so long as it’s a 2-4-2 or 2-3-2 Config I’d happily fly it...

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2549

Interestingly, while Boeing has of course not revealed firm details such as possible seating layouts, there is speculation that the shape of the '797' will see 1-1-1 in business class, something like 1-2-2 (!) in premium economy and 2-3-2 in economy.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 193

I do agree business being 1-1-1 and economy will be 2-3-2 which is popular with economy passengers, if an airline decides to add a premium economy product, then I would suspect the seating configuration would be 2-2-2.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 193

As far as I am concern, the 'B797' is the replacement for the B767 and I would suspect, that the operational specifications would be similar to the B763 and B763. The 'B797' will be the link between the B737 and the B787 families. Currently there is no new aircraft type similar to the B767 family currently available by Boeing or Airbus.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1024

The 797 is meant to be the last of the Yellowstone Project.
The Y1 is meant to replace the 757 and 767-200
Y2 (787) replaced the 767-300 and -400 and 777-200
Y3 (777X) is to replace the 747 and 777-300.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 193

Boeing's current Yellowstone Project is -

Y1 is the B737Max is suppose to replace the B737NG, B757 and B762, with a new aircraft type from 2030 onwards.

Y2 is the B787 replacing the B763, B764 and the B772.

Y3 with be the B777X project replacing B773 and B747.

Since Airbus is introducing the A320neo, A321lr and proposing to introduce the A321xlr, these aircraft types have essentially replaced the B757, which change the middle of market landscape.

Airlines like Delta and American who have large B757/B767 fleets have been calling for an aircraft type similar to the B767 using the technology from the B787 project, hence the 'B797' concept.

It would make sense for Boeing to have an entry level twin aisle aircraft in the 220-260 passenger range that links the B737 family with the B787 or the B777X families, that uses B787 technology and have similar flight deck to the B787 and B777X allowing cost saving pilot training.

To me the 'B797' is the light weight version of the B787 that can be used for domestic (like SYD/MEL/BNE) Trans Con BNE/SYD/MEL to PER), short and medium haul services. The B797 would be good for Qantas but I not sure about Air NZ, as the airline is more of B787/B777 operator backed with the new A320neo/A321neo aircraft.

13 May 2015

Total posts 22

How do they plan to turn a twin aisle aircraft around in the same time as a 737?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Dec 2017

Total posts 51

They do it now with the A330s...

13 May 2015

Total posts 22

Then why call it out as a ‘feature’ of the (smaller) 797?

That's the whole point of a smaller twin aisle aircraft to get people on or off quicker.

The problem Boeing have is trying to make a new twin aisle aircraft that can be made as cheaply as the competing A321neo and the A330neo and still make a profit.

13 May 2015

Total posts 22

Dave I totally get the incentive to do it, I just wasn't sure how they could (how do they?!). If they already can, it struck me as odd to make a point of it if they're already able to do it with the A330 as whoppersandwich pointed out.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Sep 2017

Total posts 163

Please, please let it be a widebody definitely. I keep hearing the occasional rambunctious slip that it will be yet another long, skinny NB aircraft.

Re: turnaround time, single aisle (and a long one) leads to longer boarding and diesembarkation due to sheer congestion in that single aisle. If you have a twin aisle with nice wide Type A exit doors you do this much more quickly. Premium cabin forward of the entry door and economy aft of this door also would allow for the above - something the B767s didn’t have and no guarantee the 797(?) would either.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 May 2018

Total posts 69

Please not another 757 type..

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