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May 23, 2024
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As details emerge on Boeing’s 777X, the line-up in the twin-aisle competition is now becoming clearer. The following table is based on known data and our estimates of some of the technical detail.What is emerging is that the 777-8X — ostensibly a replacement for the 777-200 series — is in reality closer to the current specifications of the 777-300ER. The 777-9X is an entirely new airplane category, mid-way between the current 777-300ER and the 747-8. Boeing’s proposed 787-10 will be the replacement for the 777-200.

3 Class
Length Range-NM
767-300ER 218 180ft 5,990
787-8 210* 186ft 7,925
A330-200** 253 192ft 7,200
787-9 250 206ft 8,250
A350-800 270 198ft 8,500
A330-300** 295 208ft 5,828
777-200ER 301 209ft 7,725
777-200LR 301 209ft 9,395
A350-900 314 219ft 8,100
787-10 310 6,950
777-300ER 365 242ft 7,930
A350-1000 350 242ft 8,400
777-8X 345 >209ft 9,400
777-9X 405 250ft est 8,500
748-8 467 250ft 8,000
A380-800 525 237ft 8,300
*158 2-Class B/Y operated by ANA; 210 pax in Boeing estimate
**A330-sharklet add 400nm

Boeing’s 777X strategy is clearly intended to bracket the Airbus A350 but it also threatens to further marginalize the 747-8. Emirates Airlines dearly wants the 747-8 to have a bit more range to allow non-stop Dubai-LAX service. Even if the 747-8I met its original specifications, the range fell slightly short. A 777-9X with our range estimate of 8,500nm — based on market intelligence, which may or may not prove in the end to be the true number–will make that routing with room to spare. Although the -9X will be smaller than the 747-8 in passenger capacity, would Emirates want an entirely new fleet type for those extra passengers?

The 777X is expected to have composite wings and wing box, a lighter aluminum lithium fuselage, new systems, better aerodynamics and new engines. An interesting fact on the fuselage: Boeing considered an Al-Li fuselage in the original development of the 777-200, but at that time production techniques were too challenging. Today Al-Li is easier to work with. It’s 10% lighter than today’s metal fuselage and durability in many ways matches composites without the additional cost and hassle.

Based on current information, we believe the 777X will be a virtually new airplane (the 747-8 is about 80% new).

Boeing management is expected to seek from the Board Authority to Offer (ATO) the 777X this year, with a launch next year. EIS is currently being projected for around 2019. Airbus projects EIS for the A350-900 in 2014, followed by the A350-800 and finally the A350-1000 in 2017.

11 thoughts on “Competition in twin-aisle race becomes clearer

  1. is your passenger assumption for the A 350 based on 8 abreast or 9 abreast in Y class?
    How about the 777: 9 abreast or 10 abreast?

    In any case, one of the best comparisons i’ve ever seen!

  2. A 43 seat delta between the 787-8 and A330-200 is a bit rich, taking into account the 787 has 9 abreast and A330 8 abreast.

    Same for A350-800 vs 787-9, unlike the Airbus will carry 20 more seats on average.

    The 467 seat configuration for the 747-8i has been selected to make the per seat fuel costs look comparable to the 525 seat A380. 400 Seats for the 747-8i would be more apples to apples, about 30-35 more then 747-400s. E.g. JAL, BA, ANA fly 744s under 300 seats, others more then 450, two class.

    We shouldn’t hide behind the seat counts produced by the Airbus and Boeing marketing departments but base comparisons on revenue cabin square meters or something similar (e.g. single class economy class seats, with fixed toilet/ galley rates)..

    The 777-9X would have a niche of its own, indeed making the 747-8i obsolete. I expect the engine power requirements to creep well above 100.000 klbs. Stretching the fuselage for extra payload and adding range and reducing engine power by 15% sounds to good to be truth. History showed that’s often the case..

  3. You have mixed the 777-8X and 777-8LRX, the nominal 777-8X is a 8000nm plan according to Boeing (Albaugh statements according to Flightglobal), he also stated he is less interested to do the LRX and denoted both the -8X and -9X as 8000nm frames. Given EKs need for more this is questionable for at least the -9X.

  4. Keesje, If you look at all the current A380 operators none of them has the 525 seat configuration. If the 467 seat configuration for the 747-8i is just hogwash the same goes for the A380. In these big aircraft, airlines prefer to sacrifice some seats in favor of Amenities as use the glamor that go with these Amenities for marketing purposes. So not all A380 operators get the same millage from the aircraft.

    I still believe that Boeing did a rush job to get the 747-8i out. If they took they time to respond to the A380 from the time it was launched, they could have made the 747-8 a better alternative to the A380.

  5. Scott, I thought the 777-8X was to have a range shorter than the 9400 miles you give, and that a speculative variant , the -8LR, was to be have the 9400 mile range, similar to the 772LR. Am I wrong?

  6. Given how operators will always use their real estate how they see fit, I think it is both right and useful to use the manufacturers’ estimates for seat count in a size ranking such as is presented here.

    Clearly, anyone should take the counts with caution knowing the source, but they are still relevant as a basic comparison of size.

    On the assumption that the highest seating density will give the lowest per seat costs, then it is up to the operator to determine how much of this advantage it is prepared to give up and the revenue benefits that will be gained.

    I feel this more detailed evaluation is best done on a case-by-case by each operator and for general purposes and as a starting point this kind of high level ranking works well.

  7. many airlines have configurations close to the “typical” 525 seat count on the A380. e.g AF, LH and EK.

    Based on real life seat counts and the size of the aircraft the 469 seats for the 748 are hogwash. And for the A380 far more realistic.

    Re the 748 design, it cost far more than Boeing hoped for. I heard they really had to re-engineer a lot from 40 year old micro films and drawing packages. The folks that developed the 74 are all in their eighties.. I think the 748F has a good future, no competition helps a lot!

  8. So, 430 seats on the 747-8i with 525 on the A380 for floor parity. At 555 seats on the A380, 467 on the 747-8i had slightly less floor space per passenger than the A380 (about 3% difference). When the 747-8 was first launched, Airbus was marketing the A380 with 555 seats, I think the count they had from around year 2000 A3XX. I suppose it’s nice, smart marketing move by Airbus to push the 747-8i further away from the A380 and even closer to the 777-300ER.

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