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First Boeing 777X tipped for 2018

By David Flynn     Filed under: Boeing 777, Boeing 777X

The first Boeing 777X will trundle off the production line in 2018, a Boeing exec has revealed, as the company edges closer to commercial flights of the new long-range jets from 2020.

That debutante is likely to be the Boeing 777-9X, although the X will be dropped as the plane makes its journey from blueprint to blue skies, to become the 777-9.

It will be followed by the smaller but longer-range Boeing 777-8X, or 777-8 (note the nod to the naming conventions adopted for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner).

Bob Feldmann, Boeing's vice president for the 777X project, told The Seattle Times that the first 777X will roll off an early production line – one currently used to ramp up Boeing 787 production – in 2018.

Boeing is on track on finalise the 777X's design configuration later this year. "It’s an exciting time as we begin to define the world’s next great airplane" Feldman says.

The manufacturer has already notched up orders for 286 of the 777X jets, with the lion's share going to 777 stalwart Emirates in 35 of the 777-8s and 115 of the 777-9s.

Gulf neighbour and rival Etihad has inked a deal for 8 777-8s and 17 777-9s.

Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa and ANA have all opted for the larger 777-9 alone with orders.

The X factor

The latest addition to Boeing's best-selling 777 family, the 777X is being spruiked as "the largest and most efficient twin-engine commercial jet in the world, with the lowest operating cost per seat of any commercial airplane."

The 777-9X is spec'd for 400 passengers in a three-class cabin layout with a peak range nudging past 15,185km (8,200 nautical miles).

The 777-8X will trim the seat count to 350 passengers but with a maximum range over 17,220km (9,300 nautical miles).

In both cases, improved design and new-generation engines will see the planes burn less fuel than today's 777s.

Long wings for the win

Part of that advanced design: sweeping wings made from carbon-fibre composites rather than metal, which span 235 feet (71.6 meters) to boost aerodynamic efficiency.

However, the tips of those wings will fold up when the 777X is on the ground to reduce the wingspan by some 7 metres (23 feet).

These 'swingtips', as Boeing calls them, are required to make the 777X fit into airport boarding gates and taxiways designed for the other members of the 777 family rather than demand expensive airport modifications.

(It's not exactly a new idea: Boeing patented it in 1995 for the original Boeing 777, and while no airline ever ticked this option box on their order, a full-scale model of the folding wingtip is on display at Boeing's Museum of Flight in Seattle.)

Inside the Boeing 777X

Boeing will also adapt key aspects of its 787 Dreamliner series to shape the passenger experience of the 777X.

The 777X will include a lower effective cabin altitude of 6,000 feet; oversized windows set higher into the cabin; and what Boeing promises will be "economy class seat widths up to 18 inches wide,"  although the choice of configurations and seat widths will in the end fall to airlines buying the big bird.

The rest of the creature comforts which Boeing has in mind for the 777X – which is slated to begin production in 2017, with first commercial flights from 2020 – are a mash-up of the Boeing 777 family interior with the 787's cabin innovations.

For starters the cabin altitude will be pegged at 6,000 feet and humidity levels boosted, with both traits being "comparable to the 787 Dreamliner" in order to reduce the effects of inflight fatigue and jetlag.

Also like the Dreamliner, the enlarged windows of the 777X  will be positioned higher on the fuselage so they're at eye level for a larger percentage of passengers, to allow more light into the cabin and a sense that there's an 'outside' out there from even the dreaded middle seats.

There should be lower cabin noise thanks to new engine nacelle design, better cabin insulation and even the installation of twice as many air nozzles which will funnel triple-filtered air at reduced velocity for less noise.

Boeing also says the 777X will introduce an "all-new interior design that allows airlines to customise their cabin architectures by class."

"This innovation includes an adaptable suite of parts that facilitates choices in overhead ceiling and stow bin configurations, allowing airlines to create the feeling of separate and distinct cabins that meet both airline and passenger needs."

Boeing suggests this as a possible high-tech 777X cabin, perhaps assuming that Tron Airlines is the launch customer...

Of course, no modern jet can get by without LED mood lighting, so that's a given right out of the box.

"The 777X will redefine the total passenger experience" promises Dennis Eng, Boeing's Director for 777X Interiors.

"All of the interior features we are exploring and designing into the new airplane are working together as a package to create an exciting new passenger experience." 

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About David Flynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 9/5/15 by Serg

777 is second best looking bird in sky right now, immediately after 747. New variant promises to look eve slicker with longer wing.

2 on 9/5/15 by PaulST

So we can expect to see it actually on sale from 2022-4? :) Looks like it could be a perfect replacement for Qantas' 747s?

1 on 9/5/15 by Jedinak K

QF does have B747 replacement. It's the A380. Although they are classified as options.

1 on 20/5/15 by Arcanum

The A380 isn't really a 747 replacement.  It's quite a jump in size (from 353 seats to 484 if I've done the math right).  That kind of plane only really works on a few busy routes.

3 on 9/5/15 by Christopher

Could Qantas order a bunch of these for 747 replacements and ne a potential replacement for the differed 8 A380s? Although Qantas keeps saying that intends to replace the 747s with the 787-9s?

4 on 9/5/15 by PaulST

When are QF due to retire the 747s? If memory serves me corrected, it's around 2018-20? The 777X won't be on sale by then but I would have thought that the 787 wouldn't have been big enough. Is the 787-10 still happening?

1 on 9/5/15 by patrickk

I can see QF taking some 787-10s which will do most of Asia and possibly Brisbane LA, and 789s for the lower capacity longer range routes e.g Melb to Dallas and the second Melb-LA. After the next couple of HGW A380s for Dallas QF may wait for the NEO in 2020 for their options. Not sure they would move to the 779 if they have the A380 and options on a 380-NEO

1 on 9/5/15 by PaulST

I just wonder how many more A380s QF will purchase. They're so large so I suspect their resale will be poor because many 2nd-world airlines won't want them because they're too large to land and taxi. How many African airports can take A380s? JNB only?

1 on 11/5/15 by patrickk

The resale value doesn't really come in to as QF flogs them for their full depreciation, so after 20 years there is little residual value anyway. Hence the half dozen 767s sitting at Alice.

5 on 9/5/15 by Aarondavis1986

With the 777-8X having a potential range of 9300 nautical miles, does that open up the possibility of SYD - LHR direct flights?

1 on 9/5/15 by Christopher

There it's does, it's a little under 9200nm from SYD - LHR direct

2 on 9/5/15 by jet_setter

I Would rather have a stopover and add on an extra 2-3 hours to stretch my legs! ;)

1 on 10/5/15 by Serg

Even better sleep over - no jet lag whatsoever, you waking up next morning at destination and you ready for anything. I flew couple of time recently to Europe via BKK – arrive to BKK late, get hotel (they cheap there as dirt!) departure next morning and arrive at destination at evening.. Next morning you full energy and no jet lag at all. IMHO this is the best way to fly Europe and I will do it again and again.

3 on 9/5/15 by Rishi

I rather have a stop-over but... I want to see how it's to be stuck on a plane for a day straight.

4 on 9/5/15 by Christopher

What about Sydney to New York Direct?

5 on 10/5/15 by patrickk

It is possible to do SYD LHR direct but the cost of uplifting all that fuel makes it uneconomical at some point.  Dallas is okay but is London?

1 on 11/5/15 by Jedinak K

This is why the debate of QF not purchasing B777-200LRs is ridiculous. Flying a fully loaded B777-200LR which can only seat upto 300 passengers from SYD to LHR isn't going to generate enough revenue to justify the costs. Plus the head winds will divert the return flights to Perth which will lose productivity and even more revenue. No sane person would want to fly for 19-20hrs straight in cattle class hence the main revenue will be from first class and business class. Prices will bulk up ridiculously, passengers will look to other airlines and the whole thing becomes a farce. I'm presuming this is why QF dropped out of San Francisco and a number of other destinations even though a lot of people say Economy class has good load factors.

6 on 9/5/15 by jet_setter

Love the folding wingtips! 

7 on 9/5/15 by Sloth

très sexy!!

8 on 9/5/15 by TheRealBabushka

What a sexy aircraft!

9 on 9/5/15 by somethingy23

As long as Emirates don't put 7 abreast in J on this one...

1 on 11/5/15 by Brett

This aircraft will be a winner for pax if airlines resist the temptation to jam in 10 abreast seating in Y.

1 on 11/5/15 by elchriss0

The standard config for the 777-X is 3-4-3 due to narrower walls leading to increased cabin width.  It will be the same as 3-3-3 on an A350.  However still not as good as 3-3-3 on current 777s.

10 on 9/5/15 by sagidec

this should be a great replacement for MH's fleet of A380 and old B777-200ER when they sell their fleet and retire some.

11 on 10/5/15 by Arza

As long as the aircraft doesnt use those silly windows on the 787 Ill be happy :)

12 on 11/5/15 by Dave

This is the aircraft that QF needs, the 777-8 is a perfect fit for most mid pax destinations. Forget the 787's, let JQ keep them, the 778 s would be a great replacement for the A33's towards the end of this decade.

QF should also look at 4 more A380's, maybe MH low usage frames, to up services to Honkers, and other Asian stops.

1 on 11/5/15 by patrickk

The 777-8 is over engineered for medium range; being a long range plane so not best for A333 routes the 787-10 is a better fit.

13 on 11/5/15 by daschok

Qantas will love the 777-9, it would be awesome if their a380s show some wear and tear. 

1 on 11/5/15 by patrickk

Dave tey really need a HGW A380 for Dallas (they have to drop 50 passngers coming back most days) so they will get two of those first and then maybe a couple of MH ones but the refit could be costly. I suspect Turkish will take all the MH ones as a job lot.

14 on 11/5/15 by Dave

Hey Patrck, your thoughts are right, I should have said a mix of the new 777 marques for QF's future needs, to keep a single airframe to assist costs for budgeting. They still need around 4. A380's though to service their major Asian Ports.

15 on 11/5/15 by ted

hope they change the face...make it like the smooth 787...

1 on 11/5/15 by elchriss0

they wont

2 on 11/5/15 by Hugo

I don't know that much about aerodynamics, but I do know that one does not simply swap out the nose on an airliner for a prettier one without having to redesign pretty much the rest of the aircraft to compensate. 

1 on 11/5/15 by elchriss0

the 777 hass a much wider diameter for them to work with compared to 787...remember that this is pretty much a 777NEO...look at the changes made for the A320, 737 and A330 families for their NEO versions compared to their current gen.

1 on 11/5/15 by ted

i think this plane is more than a NEO project...the wing is new..the'll make the windows bigger and  wih auto dimming tech just like the 787...

1 on 11/5/15 by elchriss0

the difference in the cockpit between the 787 and 777X will be something like the 757 vs 767

16 on 20/5/15 by Arcanum

I predict the 777-8 will end up going the way of the 787-3 and never actually get built.  It's just too close to the 787-10 in size, and the extra range is really only needed on a few routes.

1 on 20/5/15 by elchriss0

I don't agree considering that EK have back the aircraft.  The 787-3 for specifically designed for only one market (Japanese domestic), whereas the 777-8x is designed for a much bigger market.  787-10 can't make the longer flights of say 12+ hrs without some penalty, whereas the 777-8 can.  Having said that, most airlines who need the longer ranger will go for the A350-1000 if the 777-9x is too much plane for them.  I reckon the 777-8 will take around 10% of the total 777X orders, which if you assume 100 out of 1000 aircraft, is still more than the 77L.  The 777-8x would be good for MEL-DFW, but not sure if QF could fill it.


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