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Boeing 797 Hoax Debunked

One of the leading innovators and manufacturers in the aviation industry is Boeing. They have turned out some amazing aircraft over the years, with the newest in their line being the huge 787 Dreamliner. There’s a story floating around the internet that there’s actually a different plane that Boeing is set to introduce in the near future. Called the 797, it has the ability to seat at least 1,000 people on a single flight and is shaped like a flying wing.

Did the Boeing 797 become a reality? Is there a huge passenger jet that can fly for 10,000 miles on a single fueling and cruise at over 650 miles per hour? Or is the Boeing 797 hoax something that needs to be debunked?

The Image of the Boeing 797 Is Rather Convincing

The initial image of the Boeing 797 that began floating around the internet in emails around 2006 looks very convincing. That’s because the image was created professionally. We know this because the initial image was created by Embassy Visual Effects for Popular Science in a 2003 issue that examined the future of aircraft. The entire image is made from computer graphics software.

That doesn’t mean Boeing isn’t looking at the blending wing design for the future of aircraft. They have an experimental aircraft that is unmanned and experimental that looks a lot like the alleged Boeing 797. This plane, which is called the X-48, was built by Cranfield Aerospace in the UK back in 2007. Two additional versions of the airplane were created in later years and then flight tested throughout 2012 and 2013.

Boeing was going to develop a blended wing commercial aircraft in their 20 year commercial plans, but found in their initial testing of the design that passengers didn’t like it at all. The theater design of the seating just didn’t generate a favorable result and that caused Boeing to drop all commercial applications for the blended wing design, but not military applications.

What Did Boeing Have to Say About the 797?

Randy Baseler, who was a vice president for the organization, was running a company blog back in 2006 when the first images about the Boeing 797 began circulating through emails. Here is what he had to say.

“Someone was having a bit of fun with PhotoShop perhaps. Boeing is not planning to build a 1,000 passenger commercial airplane dubbed the “797,” based on the blended wing body (BWB) concept or any other futuristic concept. It’s certainly not in our commercial market forecast, which goes out for 20 years.”

Basler went on to point out that this was the very reason why the Boeing 787 was being developed. It would be better able to serve the major point-to-point routes that were being serviced by the airline industry. That aircraft became a reality and is currently flying the friendly skies. The Boeing 797, however fanciful or potentially practical, is just not going to be developed – at least in commercial applications.

Where Would the Luggage Go?

When looking at the practical nature of a 1,000 passenger flight, there are a lot of bags that would need to be put onto this plane. With the average passenger carrying two bags, there could be over 2,000 bags that would need to be stored somewhere on the aircraft. Yet when the proposed blueprints are examined, there isn’t even a cargo hold put into place. Are all of the aircraft passengers just going to carry their own luggage? That wouldn’t be feasible for an emergency escape.

The only feasible place left within the design would be within the interior space of the wings. That would require a certain amount of weight balance to be feasible. That’s certainly possible, but would require either the ramp crew or the flight agent to weigh every bag and chart the overall weights that are coming in. That would require an extensive amount of time to successfully accomplish, which would delay the flight even more than loading 1,000 people under current security guidelines would take.

Can you imagine needing to stand in line for a TSA security screen with 3 flights of 1,000 people all leaving within an hour of each other?

There’s also the feasibility of providing enough services to people on such a long flight. Food, beverages, water, and many other supplies would be required to satisfy the logistics of 1,000 people. Where would these carts be stored? Where would the kitchen services be? These just don’t exist on the blueprints and 1,000 people on a 15 hours flight without food or water would be a bad experience indeed.

Could the Boeing 797 Fly Up to 10,000 Miles?

What makes the Boeing 797 hoax so believable is that the physics behind the design are very real. The blended wing design has several structural advantages compared to the traditional fixed wing aircraft that are used for commercial flight today.

Aerodynamic and operating efficiencies would allow the blended wing body to fly further and use less fuel than traditional aircraft.
The structure itself is more reliable and stable while in the air.
Life cycle savings would reduce the overall costs of air travel if the design could be implemented in a customer-friendly manner.

These are the exact reasons for the development of the Boeing X-48. It would give the military a greater range of use, especially when considering large unmanned drones that may be required in the future. From a commercial standpoint, however, emergency evacuations for passengers could be problematic because of the theater-style seating that such a design would require.

It’s also interesting to note that the design proposed for the 797 would actually make it so that almost no one would have a window seat. That doesn’t mean that the seating arrangement couldn’t potentially work if enough exits were made available, but it would make for several unhappy fliers and a lot of potential airsickness.

This is where looking at the actual blueprints of the proposed Boeing 797 become important. FAA regulations clearly dictate that a full load of passengers must be able to evacuate an aircraft in 90 seconds with 50% of the exits inaccessible. There are only 4 actual exit locations that are listed on the proposed blueprint, which means that only 2 possible doors would exist to evacuate 1,000 passengers in total. That’s not going to happen in 90 seconds.

Doesn’t Boeing Have Secret Projects That Are Being Developed?

Boeing does have a division that is called Phantom Works and this is where they are developing some of the future aircraft of the aviation industry – just not generally from a commercial standpoint. This is where the X-48 was developed and where they are building projects that are currently classified. That’s yet another issue that can be brought up regarding the Boeing 797 – it’s a commercial plane that wouldn’t need secrecy. The 787 was known about for years before it was introduced. People can go tour the manufacturing lines in Everett, WA if they wish. It is military applications that are kept secret.

From that standpoint, the possibility of a Boeing 797 that could carry 1,000 troops discreetly into a war zone using a fixed wing design isn’t outside of the realm of possibility.

Phantom Works began serious development of aircraft back in 1992 with the creation of the Bird of Prey. The project was managed by the US Air Force and it helped to pioneer dozens of new technologies that are actually being used right now in today’s aircraft. Today they are testing components for space craft and automation methods that will help with future aircraft. The goal, however, is to increase manufacturing efficiencies, not adjust the actual design or functionality of the aircraft itself.

The Process of the Hoax Leads to Its Basis in Fact

Whenever something new and incredible comes out to the general public, how that information is released is a clue to how authentic the information happens to be. With the Boeing 797, the simple fact that the aircraft was only announced through email sources is an indicator that the entire thing is just a made-up story. When you add in the fact that the image used in the emails isn’t an authentic image, that reinforces the fact that this is all just a hoax.

So why create a hoax that involves a super jet that could fly further, save fuel, transport more passengers safely, and save everyone money?

Although it is ultimately a waste of time, the goal is often to just get a good laugh at all gullible people can be. That’s at the heart of any good internet hoax. People don’t take the time to verify information as they should and just share things as if they were fact. Because of this, hoaxes like this can perpetrate and it becomes a bragging point for the individual who sent it out.

The design of the Boeing 797 is aesthetically pleasing. The idea is a good goal to shoot toward one day. For all practical purposes, however, the only thing is just a hoax.