As had been anticipated, Qatar Airways has become the launch customer of the Boeing 777X Freighter by announcing an order for up to fifty aircraft on January 31. The freighter will be officially known as the 777-8 Freighter. Qatar also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for fifty MAX 10s, which will fill the void after Airbus terminated a contract for fifty A321neo’s earlier this month. Boeing launches 777-8 Freighter with order from Qatar Airways.

What does the 777-8 Freighter look like?

Boeing has been quick with sharing the technical specifications of its new freighter, which replaces the 777F from 2027. That’s right on time to meet the new ICAO emission rules that come into effect on January 1, 2028.

The 777-8 Freighter is 70.97 meters long, which compares to 69.79 meters of the yet-to-be-launched passenger version of the 777-8 and 76.72 meters of the 777-9. The wingspan is identical for all versions at 71.75 meters, but with folded wingtips, this is reduced to 64.82 meters. Height is 19.5 meters.

The new freighter has a payload capacity of 112.3 tonnes and a range of 8.167 kilometers/4.410 nautical miles. This is ten tonnes more than the current 777F, which is based on the 777-200LR. This comes at a price. Range of the 777-8 is 1.037km/560nm shorter than that of the 777F, which can cover a distance of 9.204km/4.970nm.
The maximum structural payload capacity of the new freighter is 118 tonnes. Volume is seventeen percent more than the 777F at 766.1 cubic meters. The 777-8 Freighter also has an almost identical payload capacity to the 747-400F for which it is a replacement.

By comparison: the Airbus A350F has a payload capacity of 109 tonnes, is 70.7 meters long, and has a range of 8.700 kilometers. This brings the two new freighters pretty close, closer than the 777F and A330-200F have ever been. 

The 777-8 Freighter will be built in Everett, where Boeing has invested $1.0 billion in the program, but with supplies coming from suppliers in 38 states.

The Boeing 777-8 Freighter (front) looks identical to the 777-9 but is 5.75 meters shorter. (Boeing)

The Qatar freighter order

Qatar Airways signed the order today on the occasion of the state visit of the emir of Qatar to Washington. The airline has signed a firm order for 34 777-8 Freighters plus sixteen options, valued at $20 billion at current list prices. Boeing’s January orders release confirmed on February 8 that fourteen are new orders and twenty converted orders from its sixty in backlog for the 777-8 and 777-9 that it signed during the 2013 Dubai Airshow.  

Also part of the deal is an order for two 777Fs to expand Qatar’s triple seven freighter fleet to 28 and bridge the gap until the delivery of the first 777-8 Freighters, which is anticipated in 2027. In a separate order with General Electric, Qatar also purchased  thirty GE9X and four GE90-115B engines plus TrueChoice service, valued at $6.8 billion.

“Boeing has a long history of building market-leading freighter aircraft and Qatar Airways is honored to have the opportunity to be the launch customer for the 777-8 Freighter, an aircraft which will not only allow us to further enhance our product offering for our customers but also help us meet our objectives to deliver a sustainable future for our business,” said Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker in a media statement.

“We are delighted to launch Boeing’s next great cargo airplane – the 777-8 Freighter – with Qatar Airways, one of the world’s largest cargo carriers and our partner since the airline began operations 25 years ago,” said Stan Deal, President, and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Al Baker added: “Today marks a great day in the ever-building and strong relationship between Qatar Airways and Boeing. We certainly push Boeing hard to deliver upon our expectations, and the team at Boeing consistently strives to meet and exceed our expectations, giving the opportunity for us to be here today to launch the most significant new freighter aircraft for a generation.”

Qatar signed an MoU for 25 firm and 25 options for the MAX 10. (Qatar Airways)

Boeing MAX 10 MoU

That an ‘ever-building’ and ‘strong relationship’ with Boeing are of key importance for Qatar is more evident now than ever before. The feud over the paint quality issues on the Airbus A350 has escalated into a legal battle with the London High Court, which made Airbus decide to terminate a 2017 order from Qatar for fifty A321neo’s and -XLRs.

Al Baker has wasted no time to solve a potential shortage in narrowbodies from 2023 when the first neo’s were scheduled for delivery. He announced an MoU for fifty MAX 10s in Washington: 25 on firm order plus 25 options, with a list price of $7.0 billion.

“Qatar Airways very much looks forward to adding the 737-10 to its fleet, with this new variant of the 737 being ideally suited to our short-haul network, allowing us an opportunity to further enhance our product offering for our customers, modernize our fleet and operate the most efficient aircraft in its category,” said Al Baker.

He must be ruing that Boeing can’t offer a true rival to the A321neo and XLR that would have given Qatar Airways medium-haul capability and the flexibility to substitute its Boeing 787-8s for the Airbus narrowbodies whenever it needed to. Qatar signed a Letter of Intent for sixty MAX 8s in 2016 but actually only bought five, which were placed with its Sardinian subsidiary Air Italy that stopped flying in 2020.  

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Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News. From January 2023, he will add a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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