As expected, Boeing launched its 777X in Dubai, with commitments for 150 aircraft from Emirates, 50 from Qatar and 25 from Etihad. With Lufthansa’s prior commitment for 34, the order book now stands at 269. Additional information on the 777X can be found here.
The 777X is a re-engined and re-winged version of the 777 that will be offered in two versions. The 777-8X will be about the same size as today’s 777-300ER, with 350 seats in typical configuration, and the 777-9X a stretched version with 407 seats in typical three class configuration. The 777X will be powered by new GE9X engines that develop 105,000 pounds of thrust. The aircraft will feature a new all composite wing, similar to that of the 787, that is so long that it will fold-up to enable the aircraft to fit into current gates. The aircraft is expected to burn 16-17% less fuel than the current 777-300ER.
Emirates order is for 115 9X versions and 35 8X versions of the aircraft, and Etihad’s order is for 17 of the -9X model and 8 of the smaller -8X model. Qatar Airways has chosen only the larger 777-9X model
Missing from the order party was Cathay Pacific, which was expected by several analysts to be among the initial customers for the 777X. The 777-9X is scheduled for first flight in late 2017 and entry into service in early 2020, followed by the 777-8X 18 months later.
The 777X will provide Boeing a competitive aircraft to the A350XWB without the risk of an all new aircraft, being a derivative model. The 777-8X competes with the A350-1000, and the 777-9X is a larger aircraft without a directly competing model from Airbus. The economics of the baseline model will approach, but not quite match, those of the new all-composite A350-1000, but the economics of the larger 777-9, with 407 seats, will leverage that 16% greater seating capacity to gain the industry lead among large twins in seat-mile economics.