Boeing says EIS is toward the end of 2019. We understand this is late 2019, and given program delays for the 787 and 747-8, customers we talk with believe early 2020 is more likely. A public presentation by a GE Aviation official gives the clearest indication yet of the timelines.
The GE9X will be the sole-source engine for the three 777X models: the 777-9X, with the 2019 EIS; and the 777-8X “standard” and the 7778LX long range models that follow by about 20 months. The 9X will be an entirely new category airplane, for which Airbus will not have a competitor. It’s envisioned as a 406 passenger aircraft, which slates it just inside the Very Large Aircraft transport category (more than 400 seats) now occupied by the 747-8i (nominally 467 seats) and the A380 (525 seats).
With engine certification listed by GE as 2018, aircraft certification typically follows by about a year.
The 777-8X is conceived as a 350 passenger aircraft, directly competing with the Airbus A350-1000. The 8X is slightly smaller than the 365-passenger 777-300ER, and in previous customer conferences didn’t meet with much enthusiasm. But there will be long routes that won’t support the much larger 9X, and Boeing needs a competitor to the 1000, which in Boeing’s own analysis acknowledges will have about 20% better trip costs than the -300ER. (Airbus claims 25%.)
The 777-8LX will be the replacement for the 777-200LR and will meet the requirements of Emirates Airlines, which seeks a plane capable of going from Dubai to Los Angeles non-stop with a full payload–something no airplane today can do.
Press reports recently quoted Emirates president Tim Clark as saying he needs some more information before gearing up to order the aircraft. Emirates is widely considered to be a key launch customer for the 777X; he’s previously indicated he would place a launch order for 100.
It’s unclear whether there will be any specific announcement at the Paris Air Show in connection with the 777X. But we fully expect orders or commitments to be announced this year that will amount to several hundred.