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Boeing 777x vs Airbus A350 – What Plane Is Best?

Thanks to the enormous debate that came from our last topic, Boeing 787 vs Airbus A350, we have thought to put together a better comparison of the two aviation titans, the Boeing 777X vs Airbus A350!

This topic is especially relevant as recently we have seen not one airline, but two airlines consider this very same choice.

B777X in flight

Boeing will initially manufacture 2 versions of the B777X. Image: Boeing

There are even rumors that Lufthansa is considering one or the other.

Which has been more popular?

Unlike the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the Boeing 777X has not yet been delivered to any airlines. Comparatively, the Airbus A350 range has been extensively delivered and is currently in use throughout the world. This is because the Airbus A350 simply has time on their side, being designed, built and released to market years before the Boeing 777X series.

For clarity, Boeing has two 777X types available for airlines, the 777-8 and the 777-9. Whilst Airbus has two A350’s, A350-900 and A350-1000. There was both an A350-800 and a 777-10 being considered, however, the former was dropped due to lack of demand and the latter is still a possibility.

Here are the current orders

Boeing 777X:

Type777-8777-9Combined
Orders53273326

Airbus A350:

Total ordersTotal deliveries
A350-900717196
A350-10001737
Total890203
A350-900

The A350-900 has been popular, fetching over 700 orders so far.

What new technology does the Boeing 777X and Airbus A350 have?

The Boeing 777X has some amazing cutting-edge technology:

  • To achieve a lower gross weight, Boeing will incorporate carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer that was used with success on the 787 aircraft.
  • 777-9X’s windows will also be 15% larger than competing airliners and placed at a height that will be eye level for most passengers (Source: Newsinflight).
  • The 777x’s wing tips actually fold up when sitting on the tarmac, as its wingspan is just so big

777x folding wings design is already approved

The A350, on the other hand, has these new features:

  • The aircraft is of 45% lightweight high-strength composite construction, and 55% low-density aluminum-lithium alloy, steel, aluminum and titanium.
  • Airbus also claims that the A350 is 20% quieter than any other plane on the market.
  • The cabin on board recycles the air every 2-3 minutes, allowing for a higher degree of humbity to avoid long dry flights.

How will we be comparing the planes?

To make this comparison fair, we will need to consider which of the four variants we will use in our test. We will be comparing the A350-1000 vs the 777X-9 as they are the biggest, most recent and most similar of the four.

A comparison images based on capacity from Airbus. Note: This source might be biased.

When deciding what factors make each plane better than the other, we will be coming from a point of view of an airline. As in, does it make business sense? One of the choices might have a cool feature such as LED mood lighting, but is it a factor that will lead to more profit? Otherwise, the feature will be ignored.

Also, for my own sake, I’ll be calling the 777-9 the 777x throughout and the A350-1000 simply the A350.

 

We will rank them on a variety of different attributes that can be found on the chart below.

Boeing 777X-9 VS Airbus A350-1000

Without further ado, let us compare these two planes head to head.

Model777x-9A350-1000
Cockpit crewTwoTwo
Seating, 2-class414 (42B + 372Y)366/369 (54B+315Y)
Seating, 1-class475387
Overall length251 ft 9 in (76.7 m)73.78 m / 242.7 ft
Wing235 ft 5 in (71.8 m), 212 ft 9 in (64.8 m) folded64.75 m / 212.43 ft span, 31.9° sweep
Overall height64 ft 7 in (19.7 m)17.08 m / 56 ft 0 in
Fuselage
20 ft 4 in (6.20 m) (same as Boeing 777)5.96 m / 19.7 ft width, 6.09 m / 19.98 ft height
Cabin width19.6 ft (5.96 m), Seats: 10-abreast economy 18 in / 45.7 cm5.61 m / 18 ft 5 in, Seat: 9-abreast 18 in / 46 cm
Fuel capacity[194]197,977 L (52,300 US gal)158,791 L (41,948 US gal)
Cargo capacity
48 × LD344 LD3 or 14 pallets
Speed (Cruise)TBAMach 0.85 (488 kn; 903 km/h) Typical, Mach 0.89 (513 kn; 950 km/h) Maximum
Range13,940 km / 7,525 nmi15,600 km / 8,400 nmi
Engines (2×)General Electric GE9X-105B1ARolls-Royce Trent XWB
Maximum thrust[194]470 kN / 105,000 lbf431.5 kN / 97,000 lbf

Seating: Despite being less than 10 feet longer than the Airbus A350, and only just over a foot wider, the Boeing 777X can fit nearly a 100 more people on board. This is because the Boeing 777X actually sits 10 passengers across in economy compared to the Boeing A350 at 9.

A difference of only 12 inches means that a whole extra seat can fit in. Winner: Boeing 777X

However, we should point out that this victory might not be secure, as some Airbus A350-1000 clients have asked for Airbus to make their planes 10 seats across. Whether or not this is possible we have yet to find out.

An additional argument could be made for 10 seats vs 9 seats. Would you be more comfortable on a 9-abreast Airbus A350 vs a 10-abreast Boeing? Unfortunately, airlines are not too worried about an extra person on each row and are happy to fit as many people on board as possible.

Cabin Size: Thanks to the bigger size, this is an easy win for the 777X. I didn’t know what you were expecting. Winner: Boeing 777X

Singapore A350 economy class seats

Fuel Capacity: The Boeing 777X has a much larger fuel tank than the Airbus A350. Winner: Boeing 777X

Cargo Capacity: The Boeing 777X also schools the Airbus A350 with plenty more cargo space on board. Looks like we know who will win those lucrative mail contracts! Winner: Boeing 777X.

Speed: It seems that the actual cruising speed of a 777X is yet unknown and has not been released. It is very likely going to be the same as a 777-300ER (905 km/h) or a Boeing 787 Dreamliner (903 km/h). As the Airbus A350-1000 has only a maximum cruise of 950 km/h compared to the Boeing 956 km/h then its a very slight advantage to the Boeing. Winner: Boeing 777X

Range: The A350-1000 has a bigger range than the Boeing 777x-9 by far. However, the smaller Boeing 777x-8 has a range of around 16,000 km and thus leaves the Airbus A350 series in the dust. But, we are comparing the former two. Winner: Airbus A350

What about fuel efficiency?

That is a great question and one that is harder to answer. You see, both Boeing and Airbus claim that each plane is more efficient than the other. We know that the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is more efficient at smaller distances, but the A350-1000 beats it over long haul. But as for the Boeing 777x, that trend may continue.

Turns out that the 777x is far heavier than the A350-1000, at 190t to 155t on the Airbus.

This means far more fuel burned for the extra passengers and cargo. Airbus has claimed that a full A350 weighs less than an empty Boeing 777x. No matter how fuel efficient a plane may be, if their competitor weights far less then its already an uphill battle.

Until we know for sure (When the 777x starts flying) then we will have to give this victory to Airbus. Winner: Airbus A350

What about the price?

The two jets have the following prices:

A350-1000: US$366.5 million (2018)
Boeing 777X-9: US$425.8 million (2018)

With the A350-1000 being an easy $80 million USD cheaper than the Boeing 797-9, it seems like airlines have an easy choice that will save them the most money almost immediately. Winner: Airbus A350

So which plane is best? Again, its what you want to do with it. The Airbus A350 is perfect for high capacity, ultra long-haul routes (Just like the new route Singapore to New York), whilst the 777X is great for more popular shorter routes.

Singapore to Seattle

Singapore Airlines is also reportedly looking at launching flights to Seattle with their A350. Photo: Singapore Airlines

Ultimately, these two aircraft are so close that it remains to be seen what is more popular in the long term. Will the savings from an A350 outway the high tech cost of the 777X? Or will airlines prefer the higher capacity of the 777X to ensure even higher economies of flight?

Let us know what you think in the comments, what is your favorite?

 

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