|Boeing 777-9 on its roll-out in March 2019|
|Role||Wide-body jet airliner|
|Manufacturer||Boeing Commercial Airplanes|
|First flight||Expected 2020|
|$5+ billion (2013 estimate)|
The Boeing 777X is the latest series of the long-range, wide-body, twin-engine Boeing 777 family from Boeing Commercial Airplanes. The 777X will feature new GE9X engines, new composite wings with folding wingtips, greater cabin width and seating capacity, and technologies from the Boeing 787. The 777X was launched in November 2013 with two variants: the 777-8 and the 777-9. The 777-8 provides seating for 365 passengers and has a range of 8,690 nmi (16,090 km) while the 777-9 has seating for 414 passengers and a range of over 7,525 nmi (13,936 km). The -9 is expected to fly in 2020 with deliveries starting the following year.
In 2010-2011, Boeing refined its response to the revamped Airbus A350 XWB with three 777X models, targeting a firm configuration in 2015, flying in late 2017 or 2018, and entering service by 2019. The 407-passenger -9X should stretch the -300ER by four frames to 250 ft 11 in (76.48 m) in length, for a 759,000 lb (344 t) maximum take-off weight (MTOW) and powered by 99,500 lbf (443 kN) engines, targeting per-seat 21% better fuel burn and 16% better operating cost. The smaller 353-seat -8X was to stretch the -200ER by ten frames to 228 ft 2 in (69.55 m), with a 694,000 lb (315 t) MTOW and 88,000 lbf (390 kN) turbofans to compete with the A350-900 with improvements over the -200ER like the -9X over the -300ER. A -8LX with the -9X MTOW would have a 9,480 nmi (10,910 mi; 17,560 km) range. The current -200LR/300ER have a 775,000 lb (352 t) MTOW.
A new carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) wing with a wingspan of 213 or 225 ft; 2,560 or 2,700 in (65 or 68.6 m) with blended winglets, or up to 233 ft 5 in (71.1 m) with raked wingtip for a 10% larger wing area. It would fall into ICAO aerodrome code F like the 747-8 and A380 but with 22 ft 6 in (6.9 m) folding wingtips it would stay within the 213 ft 4 in (65.02 m) code E like current 777s. Horizontal stabilisers would be extended.
The General Electric GE90-115B of the earlier 777-200LR and -300ER variants has a 42:1 overall pressure ratio and 23:1 HP compressor ratio. Rolls-Royce Plc proposed its RB3025 concept with a 132 in (335 cm) fan diameter, a 12:1 bypass ratio, and a 62:1 overall pressure ratio, targeting a fuel burn of more than 10% lower than the GE90-115B and 15% lower than its Trent 800 powering the 777; the RB3025 concept has a composite fan, a core derived from the Trent 1000, and advanced HP materials. Pratt & Whitney responded with a 100,000 lbf (440 kN) thrust PW1000G architecture. GE Aviation proposed the GE9X with a 128 in (325 cm) diameter fan, a 10:1 bypass ratio, a 60:1 overall pressure ratio, and 27:1 HP compressor ratio for a 10% fuel burn reduction.
In March 2013, Boeing selected the GE9X with a 132 in (335 cm) fan at this time; its new core first run is expected in 2014, design should be frozen in 2015, and the first engine will run in 2016 before flight testing in 2017 and certification in 2018. It will be the largest fan by GE. In the rest of 2013, thrust was bumped to 102,000 and 105,000 lbf (450 and 470 kN) to support the MTOW growing from 769,413 to 775,000 lb (349,000 to 351,534 kg) and increasing the payload-range, with even 108,000 lbf (480 kN) envisioned.
Customers bemoan the loss of engine competition, like Air Lease Corporation's CEO Steven Udvar-Hazy who wants a choice of engines. Airbus points out that handling more than one engine type adds millions of dollars to an airliner cost. Pratt and Whitney said "Engines are no longer commodities...the optimization of the engine and the aircraft becomes more relevant."
In 2012, with the Boeing 737 MAX in development and the 787-10 launch in preparation, Boeing decided to slow 777X development to reduce the risk with introduction still forecast for 2019. On May 1, 2013, Boeing's board of directors approved selling the 353-seat 777-8LX to replace the 777-300ER from 2021, after the larger 406-seat -9X.
On September 18, 2013, Lufthansa became its launch customer by selecting 34 Boeing 777-9X airliners, along with 25 Airbus A350-900s to replace its 22 747-400s and 48 A340-300/600s for its long-haul fleet. The design work will be distributed between Charleston, Huntsville, Long Beach, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Moscow. Its development cost could be over $5 billion with at least $2 billion for the carbon-composite wing.
At the November 2013 Dubai Airshow, the -8X for 350 passengers over a 9,300 nmi (17,200 km) range and the -9X, seating more than 400 over 8,200 nmi (15,200 km) were launched with 259 orders and commitments for US$95 billion at list prices. This was the largest commercial aircraft launch by dollar value with Emirates ordering 150, Qatar Airways 50, and Etihad Airways 25, in addition to the September 2013 Lufthansa commitment for 34 aircraft. Boeing dropped the variants' "X" suffix, while keeping the 777X program name at the 2015 Dubai Airshow.
In June 2017, Lufthansa was considering delaying 777X deliveries, and could limit its -9 orders to 20 and order more A350s. Due to its large order, Emirates will become the first operator in mid-2020 instead of Lufthansa.
In December 2014, Boeing began construction on a new 367,000 sq ft (34,100 m2) composites facility in St. Louis to be completed in 2016 and needing 700 jobs, to build 777X parts with six autoclaves for the wing and empennage parts, starting in 2017. The 787 'surge' line at Everett would be converted into a 777X early production line by the end of 2015. Boeing built a new 1,300,000 sq ft (120,000 m2) factory in Everett, with a 120 ft (37 m) autoclave. A robot winds fiber for the wings.
The first 777X is expected to roll off the ex 787 'surge' line in 2018. The -9 firm-configuration was reached in August 2015 and assembly of the initial aircraft will begin in 2017 for a December 2019 introduction advanced from the previously scheduled 2020.
With a current 777 production rate of 100 per year, 380 on order at the end of 2013 and no orders at the February 2014 Singapore Airshow, bridging the gap to the 777X deliveries starting from 2020 is a challenge: to stimulate orders, sales of current 777s can be paired with 777Xs and used 777s can be converted to freighters to be sold and stimulate new sales.
In April 2017, the initial one-piece wing spar came onto the assembly jig and was about to enter lay-up in June; first parts assembly for the initial -9, a static test airframe, were underway in the purpose-built wing center near Everett, Washington. Four -9s, a fatigue-test airframe, and two -8s will be built for testing. Tests of avionics, power and integrated systems continue in Boeing Field laboratories and will be integrated into an "Airplane Zero" in 2017 as 70% detailed design was done in June 2017.
The assembly of the first composite wing test example began in Everett in late September 2017 with its top section lowered into a jig for robotic drilling. Boeing launched the 777-9 production on October 23 with the wing spar drilling; its maiden flight was scheduled in the first quarter of 2019, one year before its introduction, perhaps with Emirates.
On November 7, 90% of the engineering drawings were released, with the airframe before the systems: 99% of the wing and 98% of the fuselage drawings are released. The detailed design should be complete before 2018 as avionics, power and other systems are prepared for ground tests. Number 1 and 6 aircraft will be used for ground tests and four 777-9s (No. 2 to 5) will be involved for the flight test and certification campaign, with final assembly to start in 2018 before roll-out the same year, and two 777-8s will come later.
The 777X production techniques could be major cost-cutters. The Fuselage Automated Upright Build (FAUB) system was developed and quietly tested in Anacortes, Washington, 40 miles north of the 777 Everett assembly plant. A major leap in automated production, it drills the tens of thousands of holes in the fuselage more quickly, accurately, and safely. The wings are the first produced by Boeing in composite and not out-sourced like for the 787, and production is largely automated as well. The specifically built billion-dollar factory has excess capacity, laying the foundation for the company's New Midsize Airplane (NMA) and later the New Small Airplane to replace the 737.
In February 2018, Subaru (ex-Fuji Heavy Industries) completed the first aluminum/titanium center wingbox integrated with main landing gear wheel wells at its 11,600 m² Handa factory completed in April 2016, started in 2017 and equipped with automatic riveters, transfer and painting machines.
Boeing's first composite wing spars, stringers and skin panels are formed in the $1 billion Composite Wing Center before assembly on a new horizontal build line. In February 2018, its wing components were ready to go through assembly as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the 787 composite wings manufacturer, advised Boeing on the wing assembly. At this time, 93-95% of the design was released: complete for structures and in progress for systems and engine installation before interiors.
Fuselage subassemblies started shipping on February 7: aft fuselage panels from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, center and forward fuselage panels from Kawasaki Heavy Industries and the 11/45 center wingbox from Subaru. In March, fuselage assembly will start in Everett at a temporary production line between the current 747-8 and 777 assembly lines to avoid disrupting the 777-300ER production. The static airframe and the first flight-test aircraft bodies will be joined in the second quarter of 2018 and in June-July, respectively.
Scheduled for the start of 2018, the GE9X first flight has been delayed by the variable stator vane actuator arms redesign but the slip should not change the engine certification schedule or the first flight of the 777X. The flight-test engines will be shipped later in 2018, before the year-end roll out and first flight expected in February 2019. During the new component development, two temporary engines will be placed on the first flight-test aircraft. Wing assembly is difficult, with the light but strong carbon-fiber material being less forgiving than traditional aluminum, and aircraft systems integration in a special demonstration lab is not as quick as planned.
The first 777-9 fuselage assembly started in March 2018. In May 2018, Qatar Airways head Akbar Al Baker thought development was a couple of months late but expects Boeing to catch up, provided no certification issues arise. To avoid disrupting current 777 assembly, a temporary low-rate assembly line was set up for up to 38 airframes before transitioning to the main FAL in the early 2020s. The first -9 roll-out is due in late 2018 and all four -9 prototypes are to join the flight tests by mid-2019, while the two -8 prototypes are to be assembled in 2020 before 2022 deliveries.
The first wing was completed in May for static tests before the flight test wings. By July 2018, 98% of its engineering had been released. By September, the static test 777X article was completed, lacking engines and various systems, ahead of its structural testing on ground. The first join on the static-test aircraft was done in 16 days instead of the planned 20 and lessons learned from the 787 wing-body join led to a single defect instead of hundreds usually in new models.
The final body join of the first flight test aircraft was completed by November, before an early 2019 rollout and a second quarter first flight. By late 2019, it should be joined in the flight program by the other four 777-9 prototypes which were undergoing assembly. The first flight-test aircraft was built 20% faster than the static airframe. At the end of November, the electric systems were powered on and the rollout was expected for February 2019. First deliveries are planned for May 2020 while the first production wing spar was going to be loaded in early December. To position wings and fuselage sections, automated guided vehicles are replacing overhead cranes and "monuments" - large, permanent tooling fixtures. The primary systems were installed by December and its second GE9X engine will be hung in early 2019.
Engines were installed by early January 2019. The first 777-9 body join happened in February for a delivery planned in summer 2020 to Lufthansa. The roll-out of the prototype occurred on March 13, 2019, in a low-key employees-only event overshadowed by the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 on March 10.
The GE9X engines installed on the 777X prototype were first run on May 29. However, a compressor anomaly occurred on another engine during pre-delivery tests, and the maiden flight previously planned for no earlier than June 26 was delayed while the engines are modified to a final certifiable configuration. As of 17 June 2019 , GE expressed confidence that the engine would receive certification during the fall and that the first flight of the 777X would still occur in 2019. The 777X test plan was later revised as several months are required to develop and test fixes to the GE9X, and first flight slipped to October-November. By June, the first prototype began low-speed taxi tests.
On July 24, Boeing announced that the GE9X engine issue would delay the maiden flight until 2020. The company continued to target first deliveries in 2020, though it intends to boost production of current-generation 777 freighters in 2020. GE Aviation in Ohio is recalling four GE9X turbofans from Boeing in Washington state in Antonov An-124 freighters from Volga-Dnepr Airlines, mounted in 26 x 14 x 13 ft (8 x 4 x 4 m), 36,000 lb (16.3 t) stands.
On September 5, in the presence of FAA inspectors, a cargo door blew off the 777X static test airframe during the ultimate load test, which is conducted with the airplane stressed and pressurized beyond normal operating limits. Depending on the outcome of its root cause investigation, Boeing should have time to modify the failed part and repeat the test during the margin from the existing engine-related delays. Boeing received the first flight compliant GE9X on October 18 with a second engine due by the end of the month, for a mid-November power up. On November 13, the robotised FAUB was abandoned after six years of implementation, to rely more on human machinists. By mid-November, a pair of flight compliant engines were installed on the first 777-9.
The 777X has a new longer composite wing with folding wingtips. Based on the 787 wing but with less sweep, the new wing has a higher lift-to-drag ratio, an aspect ratio increased from 9:1 to 10:1, an area increased from 4,702 to 5,562 sq ft (436.8 to 516.7 m2), and usable fuel capacity increased from 320,863 to 350,410 lb (145,541 to 158,943 kg).
To stay within the size category of the current 777 with a less than 213 ft (65 m) wingspan, it features 11 feet (3.5 m) folding wingtips supplied by Liebherr Aerospace. The mechanism was demonstrated for Aviation Week at the Boeing Everett Factory in October 2016; the folding movement should be complete in 20 seconds and be locked in place at the end. Specific alerts and procedures are needed to handle a malfunction.
As existing regulations do not cover the folding wingtips, the FAA issued special conditions, including proving their load-carrying limits, demonstrating their handling qualities in a crosswind when raised, alerting the crew when they are not correctly positioned while the mechanism and controls will be further inspected. Those ten special conditions were to be published on May 18, 2018, covering worst-case scenarios.
The internal cabin width is increased from the previous 777 models' 231 to 235 in (587 to 597 cm) through thinner interior cabin walls and better insulation to allow 18.0 in (46 cm) wide seats in 10-abreast economy. The 777X will feature cabin design details requiring structural changes that were originally introduced on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner: larger windows, higher ceilings, more humidity and lowered cabin altitude to 6,000 ft (1,800 m). Its flight deck is similar to the 787 cockpit with large displays and head-up displays, plus touchscreens replacing cursor control devices and folding wingtips controls. Windows are dimmable.
For the longer 777-9, new engines should improve fuel consumption by 10%, with the longer, carbon-fiber wings adding an estimated 7% improvement. As 4 to 5% of fuel savings is lost from the 12 tons heavier basic structure of the larger airliner, the net fuel efficiency gain is projected to be 12 to 13%. Ten-abreast seating instead of nine with a longer fuselage enable a reduction in fuel burn per seat of 20% compared to the 365-seat 777-300ER. The longer-range 355-seat 777-8 should have a 13% improvement in fuel consumption with 10 fewer seats than the -300ER.
Its maximum takeoff weight is targeted for 775,000 lb (351.5 t) like the 777-300ER but Boeing hopes to have at least a 10,000 lb (4.5 t) margin at introduction. Boeing predicts the -8 to be 4% more fuel efficient and cost effective than the A350-1000, while the -9 would be 12% more fuel efficient and 11% more cost effective. Lufthansa, when it ordered both, stated the Airbus A350-900 and the 777-9X will consume an average of 2.9 L/100 km per passenger.
The 777-8 is a shortened derivative of the 777-9, 229 ft (69.8 m) long, between the 209 ft 1 in (63.7 m) 777-200 and 242 ft 4 in (73.9 m) 777-300. It would seat typically 365 passengers with a range of 8,690 nmi (16,090 km). It would succeed the ultra-long-range -200LR and compete with the Airbus A350-1000. Production of the -8 was expected to follow the -9 around two years later. It could be the basis of a freighter version which could be available 18 to 24 months after the introduction of the -8.
Due to the Boeing 737 MAX groundings and the delayed first flight of the 777-9, Boeing pushed back design and development of the 777-8 until at least 2021, for first deliveries in 2023 or beyond. The delays should not affect Boeing's participation in Qantas' Project Sunrise, for which it has proposed a 777-8 variant. Boeing has also proposed an interim solution to Qantas, assumed to comprise a 777-9 with auxiliary fuel tanks and reduced seating capacity. The -8 would also fill the niche market for an aircraft capable of flying with a full payload from hubs in the Gulf states to the West Coast of the United States. It could, however, be permanently cancelled if customers find the -9 acceptable for these routes.
The 777-9 is stretched by three extra seat rows and flies 220 nmi (400 km) farther than the 777-300ER with the same weight. It is 9.4 ft (2.9 m) longer than the -300ER for a 251 ft 9 in (76.7 m) length. It will seat typically 414 passengers over a range of 7,525 nmi (13,940 km). Boeing froze its design in August 2015 and should start first assembly in 2017, for an introduction in December 2019. Its operating empty weight grew from the 777-300ER's 373,500 to 400,000 lb (169,400 to 181,400 kg), just over, for the -9X target. Listed at $442 million, valuation specialist Avitas estimates the -9X real purchase price at around $200 million.
In 2014, Aspire Aviation estimated its manufacturer empty weight at 362,000 and 415,000 lb (164,000 and 188,000 kg) for its operating empty weight with 300 seats in four classes. In 2017, crowd-sourced stock advising website Seeking Alpha estimated a 370,000 lb (167,829 kg) manufacturer empty weight and a 407,000 lb (184,600 kg) operating empty weight. The 777-9X is to be longer than the previous longest airliner, the 250 ft 2 in (76.25 m) Boeing 747-8.
Boeing is proposing to stretch the -9 by four rows of seats to accommodate 450 passengers in a 777-10X variant to compete with the Airbus A380 superjumbo. The company has approached several airlines including Emirates, the largest operator of both the 777 and the A380. The A380 seats between 489 and 615 passengers. The potential 263 feet (80 m) long aircraft (12 feet (3.7 m) more) is competing against a hypothetical stretch of the A350-1000 for Singapore Airlines. Boeing confirmed that the stretch is feasible if there is interest.
On December 10, 2018, Boeing launched Boeing Business Jet variants at the Middle East Business Aviation Association Show: the BBJ 777-8 offers a range of 11,645 nautical miles (21,570 km) and a 3,256 sq ft (302.5 sq m) cabin, while the BBJ 777-9 provides a 3,689 sq ft (342.7 sq m) cabin and a range of 11,000 nautical miles (20,370 km).
In June 2019, Qatar Airways urged Boeing to develop a 777X-based freighter, to replace its existing 777Fs which would be 10 years old in 2025. Boeing confirmed that discussions were under way to define a timeline for a freighter variant. The freighter is expected to be based on the 777-8 airframe.
Emirates finalized its order for 150 777X aircraft, consisting of 115 777-9s and 35 777-8s in July 2014. On July 16, Qatar Airways finalized its order for 50 777-9 aircraft, with purchase rights for 50 more 777-9s. On July 31, Japan's All Nippon Airways finalized an order for 20 Boeing 777-9s.
In December 2016, Iran Air signed an agreement with Boeing for 80 airliners including 15 777-9s. On May 8, 2018, United States President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Deal, effectively cancelling $38 billion of Airbus and Boeing orders from Iran Air.
In February 2017, Singapore Airlines signed a letter of intent with Boeing for 20 777-9 and 19 787-10 airliners; this was firmed in June 2017. The three Persian Gulf carriers (Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways) hold 235 orders, 69% of the 340 commitments, which aren't as secure as they were: Etihad's widespread investing strategy has backfired as it reduces feed sources, making it harder to fill the orders for the 777X; Emirates demand has been slowing and it is considering to defer deliveries, having the smallest sovereign wealth fund backing; Qatar Airways is facing economic concerns and is suffering from a diplomatic crisis with its neighbors.
After a nearly $2 billion loss in 2016, Etihad had to cut routes, shrink its fleet and is keen on canceling or deferring its orders, preferring to incur cancellations penalties rather than recurring losses from overcapacity. Etihad's investment strategy is reducing as it holds stakes in four airlines, half as many as before, and has 160 orders from Airbus and Boeing worth tens of billions of dollars. Meanwhile, Turkish Airlines has expressed its interest in the 777X.
On February 28, 2019, British Airways parent International Airlines Group ordered up to 42 777-9, 18 firm and 24 options, valued at up to $18.6 billion, to replace its Boeing 747-400 with 30% better fuel cost per seat. On November 7, Lufthansa stated it had converted 14 orders into options, leaving six firm commitments, after having negotiated a change as part of its acquisition of 20 Dreamliners earlier in 2019.
|November 17, 2013||Lufthansa[a]||6||6 (down from 20)|
|November 17, 2013||Etihad Airways||6||6 (reduced from 25)|
|December 20, 2013||Cathay Pacific||21||21|
|July 8, 2014||Emirates||35||115||150|
|July 16, 2014||Qatar Airways||10||50||60|
|July 31, 2014||All Nippon Airways||20||20|
|June 4, 2015||Unidentified customer(s)||10||10|
|June 23, 2017||Singapore Airlines||20||20|
|February 28, 2019||British Airways||18||18|
|Seating, 2-class||384||414 (42J + 372Y)|
|Seating, 3-class||349 (8F + 49J + 292Y)|
|Lower deck LD-3||48: 26 fwd + 22 aft|
|Cargo capacity||8,131 cu ft (230.2 m3)|
|Length||229 ft 0 in (69.8 m)||251 ft 9 in (76.7 m)|
|Wingspan||235 ft 5 in (71.8 m), 212 ft 9 in (64.8 m) folded|
|Wing||5,562 sq ft (516.7 m2), 9.96 aspect ratio|
|Height||64 ft 0 in (19.5 m)||64 ft 7 in (19.7 m)|
|Width, exterior||20 ft 4 in (6.20 m) fuselage[b]|
|Width, cabin||19.6 ft (5.96 m)|
|Seat width||18 in (45.7 cm) in 10-abreast economy|
|MTOW||775,000 lb (351,534 kg)|
|Max. Payload||162,000 lb (73,500 kg)|
|OEW||400,000 lb (181,400 kg)|
|Fuel capacity||350,410 lb (158,940 kg), 52,300 US gal (197,977 L)|
|Range||8,690 nmi / 16,090 km||7,525 nmi / 13,940 km|
|Engine (×2)||General Electric GE9X-105B1A|
|Thrust (×2)||105,000 lbf (470 kN)|
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era