The Boeing 747X was a proposed quad-engined widebody aircraft that would’ve extended Boeing’s dominance in the long-haul sector.
However, the planemaker eventually cancelled plans to move forward with the type thanks to a shifting landscape and concerns around demand and costs.
Boeing, however, during the development period, outlined several variants that were of interest had the program moved ahead for eventual release.
747-500X And 747-600X
The 747-500X and 747-600X were unveiled in the second half of the 1990s at the 1996 edition of the Farnborough Airshow as proposed future variants of the 747 program.
Boeing wanted to, with these two newly announced variants, combine what was known and loved about previous renditions and apply new engines, increase tires and make adjustments elsewhere to improve efficiency.
Changes would’ve also included adjustments to the wing that would be derived from the new and advanced Boeing 777 widebody, which was enjoying success.
Boeing’s proposed 747-500X would’ve sat 462 passengers across a range of 8,700 nautical miles or 16,100 kilometres. Its total fuselage length would be 76 metres.
The proposed 747-600X would indicate its higher-numbered variant being a further stretch to 85 metres in length. As a result, it could seat closer to 550 passengers and harbour a smaller range of 7,700 nautical miles or 14,300 kilometres.
The Even Further Upgraded 747-700X
A third variant was also unveiled as a concept, given the title of 747-700X. The -700X would have been an even further boost on the variants above and, as a result, can carry 650 passengers.
Boeing said the -700X would have range capabilities similar to the iconic 747-400.
However, ultimately, similar to a lot of development studies across decades, interest wasn’t able to be found for these three variants, and Boeing would not proceed.
The 747X And 747X Stretch
Boeing’s work and development surrounding future variants in the Boeing 747 family wouldn’t stop at just the 747-500X, -600X and -700X, with a further round of concept studies unveiled.
The more refined 747X and 747X Stretch were in direct response towards the growing anticipation of Airbus’ widebody study, the A3XX.
The A3XX would eventually turn into the A380 program, and Boeing wanted to ensure it had a competitor on the market to provide competition adequately.
Ultimately, Boeing believed that the two refined proposals stood a far better chance of attracting interest over the long term following their largely failed concepts unveiled in the past.
The 747X was slated to carry 430 passengers with a range of 8,700 nautical miles or 16,1000 kilometres. Meanwhile, the 747X Stretch would see its length extended to 80.2 metres and allow for a capacity of 500 passengers.
The total range would also reach 7,800 nautical miles or 14,400 kilometres. Boeing would’ve leaned heavily on the 777 had these new variations progressed.
A 747X Freighter?
Keeping in line with Boeing’s mission of ensuring their aircraft could readily fit into different markets, the study of a dedicated freighter was also revealed.
Boeing, for an extended period, wanted to ensure that even if demand lacked an updated passenger variant of the 747, it would be able to see success in a freighter capacity.
Why The 747X Failed Repeatedly
Despite efforts by Boeing to promote the aircraft, speak directly with customers and more, it was unable to pitch the 747X series successfully.
Whether this be for the initial concepts such as the 747-500X or the more refined 747X and 747X Stretch, Boeing encountered similar problems across all studies, essentially being interested.
Customers’ focus was beginning to shift during this period towards twin-engined efficient jets, like at the time the Boeing 777 and even Airbus A330.
For Boeing, releasing a 747X during this timeframe made little to no sense when the focus could be put elsewhere on developing models that would have more longevity within the industry.
The 747X Inspired The 747-400ER
It wasn’t all doom and gloom, though, for the 747X despite it not getting an eventual release into the industry.
As with several historical and conceptual programs, these studies can be fundamental in launching other aircraft programs.
Boeing would take what it had learnt from the 747X study to eventually apply it to the 747-400ER, an extended-range variant of the beloved 747-400, which succeeded in boosting range capabilities at carriers globally.