Boeing has launched the 777X program at the 2013 Dubai Airshow with agreements for 259 aircraft from four customers in Europe and the Middle East.
According to Boeing, the four agreements represent the largest product launch in commercial jetliner history by dollar value.
Boeing 777X orders and commitments include Lufthansa with 34 aircraft; Etihad Airways with 25; Qatar Airways with 50 and Emirates with 150. The combined value of the agreements is more than $95 billion at list prices, according to Boeing.
“We are proud to partner with each of these esteemed airlines to launch the 777X – the largest and most-efficient twin-engine jetliner in the world,” said Ray Conner, Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ president and CEO. “Its ground-breaking engine technologies and all-new composite wing will deliver unsurpassed value and growth potential to our customers.”
The 777X builds on the Boeing 777, which the manufacturer says today commands 55 per cent of market share in its category in terms of backlog, and 71 per cent of the in-service fleet worldwide. The Boeing 777X family includes the 777-8X and the 777-9X.
According to Boeing, the 777X builds on the dispatch reliability from today’s 777, as well as offering more market coverage and revenue capability. The Boeing 777-8X competes directly with the Airbus A350-1000, while the 777-9X is in a larger class which Boeing says is by itself.
However, the Boeing 777-9X can be seen as infringing upon the lower end of the market for the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental.
The Boeing 777-9X offers seating for more than 400 passengers, depending on an airline’s configuration choices. The manufacturer claims that, with a range of more than 8,200 nautical miles (15,185 kilometers), the aircraft will have the lowest operating cost per seat of any commercial jet.
However, it will only do so if operated with more than 400 seats in 10-abreast economy seat-row configuration. Using a nine-abreast cabin seat-row configuration (preferred by some airlines), the 777-9X will have at least 35 fewer seats and its seat-mile and trip-mile costs would be higher than those of the Airbus A350-1000, according to the AirInsight group of aviation consulting firms.
The second member of the 777X family, the Boeing 777-8X, will seat 350 passengers and offer a range capability of more than 9,300 nautical miles (17,220 kilometers).
“The airplane will build on the market-leading 777 and will provide superior operating economics,” said Conner. “The airplane will be 12 per cent more fuel efficient than any competing airplane, necessary in today’s competitive environment.”
The 777X family will introduce the most advanced commercial engine ever – the GE9X by GE Aviation – and an all-new high-efficiency composite wing that has a longer span than today’s 777. The aircraft’s folding, raked wingtip and optimized span deliver greater efficiency, significant fuel savings and airport gate compatibility, according to the manufacturer.
For the Boeing 777X family, the wingtip folding is needed so that the 777X models can fit in the standard “box” of ramp area allocated to widebody aircraft when parked at most airport gates worldwide.
Like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner which was launched as the 7E7, the 777X will be formally named at a later date, according to Boeing.
Design of the 777X is underway and suppliers will be named in the coming months. Production is set to begin in 2017, with first delivery targeted for 2020.