Boeing is one of the world’s leading aerospace companies, known for its innovations and breakthroughs in aviation. But did you know that Boeing once had a project that aimed to compete with the Concorde, the iconic supersonic jet that could fly faster than the speed of sound? The project was called the 2707, and it was a dream that never came true.
The 2707 was a supersonic transport (SST) project that Boeing started in the 1960s, with the support of the US government and 26 airlines that ordered 122 planes. It was designed to be larger, faster, and more efficient than the Concorde, which was developed by Britain and France. The 2707 could carry up to 300 passengers, fly at Mach 2.7 (about 2,000 mph), and have a range of 4,000 miles. It promised to revolutionize air travel and make transatlantic flights as short as three hours.
The 2707 project faced numerous technical, environmental, and political challenges resulting in its cancellation in 1971. Engineering problems, including the design of the swing-wing, intended to enhance the plane’s aerodynamics, added weight and complexity. The aircraft also struggled with the problem of sonic boom, which could harm wildlife, damage buildings, and annoy people on the ground. Additionally, the plane’s high fuel consumption increased its operating costs and environmental impact.
The project also faced opposition from Congress, which questioned its feasibility and profitability. The project cost billions of dollars, and some lawmakers doubted whether there was enough demand for such a plane. The project also faced competition from the Concorde, which had already flown its first test flight in 1969, and the Soviet Union’s Tupolev Tu-144, which was the first SST to enter service in 1975. The project also faced protests from environmentalists, who feared that the plane would contribute to air pollution and global warming.
As a result of these challenges, the US government withdrew its funding for the project in 1971, and Boeing had to cancel the 2707. Boeing had to lay off thousands of workers and focus on other projects, such as the 747, which became the most successful commercial jet in history. So many people left Seattle that a billboard was placed near the airport that read “Will the last person leaving Seattle turn out the lights?”
The 2707 was a dream that never came true. It was a vision of the future that was too far ahead of its time. As one of the former engineers of the project said, “The 2707 was a victim of its own ambition. It promised to be bigger, faster, and more efficient than the Concorde, but it also proved to be more complex, costly, and controversial.”
The 2707 was not just a plane. It was a symbol of American technological prowess and economic power. Its demise marked a turning point in the history of aviation and the nation. As another former engineer of the project said, “The 2707 was a challenge that Boeing could not overcome. It tested the limits of engineering, science, and politics. It was a lesson learned the hard way.”
The 2707 was a legacy that Boeing could not forget. It inspired the company to pursue new innovations and breakthroughs in supersonic flight. It was a dream that could still come true. As Boeing’s chief engineer of advanced technology said, “The 2707 was a dream that never came true. It inspired the company to pursue new innovations and breakthroughs in supersonic flight. It was a dream that could still come true.” Boeing is still working on developing a new supersonic jet that could fly from New York to London in 2 hours, and hopes to launch it by 2030.
– Boeing’s Concorde Competitor: The 2707 – Why Was It Canceled?, Simple Flying, October 14, 2023
– Boeing 2707 SST: The supersonic aircraft that never was, AviationSource News, November 7, 2023
– Why Did Boeing’s Proposed Supersonic 2707 Airliner Fail?, United AFA, December 17, 2023
– Boeing’s Supersonic Jet Could Fly From New York to London in 2 Hours, Travel + Leisure, December 20, 2023