How useful is an NMA, Part 3

The NMA for the Asian-Pacific market

In the first article in the series, we settled an NMA would have an operational still air range of 4,000nm for the larger, 265 seat model called 797-7 and 4,500nm for the smaller, 225seat model call 797-6.

We saw in last week’s article, the NMA has seating capacities similar to the Boeing 767-200 for the 797-6 and 767-300 for the 797-7. But its shorter ranged and the cargo capacity is less. The low cargo capacity is a handicap for the Asian market. Cargo is an important revenue source for Asian carriers.

After flying the 797s on the trans-Atlantic market we now try them on medium-long trunk routes in Asia-Pacific.

Asian-Pacific operations

The Asia-Pacific has the same problem with dominant Westerly winds as the trans-Atlantic routes. This prolongs the time the aircraft will be in the air going West. For the aircraft, it works as if the route was longer.

Once again, a good assumption is it will prolong a route on a bad day with about 10%. The 797-6 can then reliably fly routes which are 4,100nm and the 797-7 3,600nm routes during windy days.

Figure 1 shows the large Circle distanced between some typical City-pairs in Asia-Pacific.

Figure 1. Typical City-pairs in Asia-Pacific. Source: Great Circle Mapper.

We can see the main routes from Singapore works fine, as would routes from Hong Kong, as long as we avoid Australia and New Zeeland. Dubai to main Asian destinations is also fine except for Japan.

The problems start when we want to fly to Australia. The larger NMA is to short ranged to serve anything beyond Manila (MNL) and Singapore (SIN). The smaller 797-6 can fly as far as Taipei(TPE) but not to Soul (ICN).

NMA is not an aircraft for New Zeeland. All routes except to neighbouring Australia are too long. Auckland-Singapore is too far for both 797 and the closer Manila (MNL) or Jakarta (CGK) doesn’t work either.

Japanese carriers can use the NMAs for routes as far as India and Pakistan but Dubai (DXB) is too far away as is Australia.


The NMA works better in the Asia-Pacific market than for the trans-Atlantic market. The main Asian cities and routes are within its reach as long as we stay away from going “Down Under”. For most Australian destinations and all trunk New Zeeland routes, we need more long ranged aircraft.

There is considerable pressure from Asian-Pacific carriers for increased cargo capacity for the NMA. But adding the next cargo container size, LD3, to increase cargo capacity makes the NMA fuselage an Airbus A330 fuselage. The A330 has the smallest possible fuselage diameter when the lower deck houses two LD3s side by side. The NMA would then lose its key advantage over the A330, the 767 and the A321LR. Its dual aisle comfort with single-aisle economics.

Next week we look at how the NMA fares in the Middle East and South American markets.

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