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.

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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.

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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

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Boeing 777X:

Type 777-8 777-9 Combined
Orders 53 273 326

Airbus A350:

Total orders Total deliveries
A350-900 717 196
A350-1000 173 7
Total 890 203
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.

Model 777x-9 A350-1000
Cockpit crew Two Two
Seating, 2-class 414 (42B + 372Y) 366/369 (54B+315Y)
Seating, 1-class 475 387
Overall length 251 ft 9 in (76.7 m) 73.78 m / 242.7 ft
Wing 235 ft 5 in (71.8 m), 212 ft 9 in (64.8 m) folded 64.75 m / 212.43 ft span, 31.9° sweep
Overall height 64 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 width 19.6 ft (5.96 m), Seats: 10-abreast economy 18 in / 45.7 cm 5.61 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 × LD3 44 LD3 or 14 pallets
Speed (Cruise) TBA Mach 0.85 (488 kn; 903 km/h) Typical, Mach 0.89 (513 kn; 950 km/h) Maximum
Range 13,940 km / 7,525 nmi 15,600 km / 8,400 nmi
Engines (2×) General Electric GE9X-105B1A Rolls-Royce Trent XWB
Maximum thrust[194] 470 kN / 105,000 lbf 431.5 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 Airbus 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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ahmad Yani

The key question, as the OEMs continue to one up each other, is whether an A350-1100 stretch will be built. The A350-1100 would be an all new technology aircraft competing with a highly modified but derivative model, and should have both lower aircraft mile costs and lower seat mile costs than the 777-9. A stretched A350 would also help to bridge the large gap in size between A350-1000 and A380-800. We believe the A350-1100 will become a competitive necessity for Airbus. With the A350-1000 due for EIS in 2017, and the 777-9X due in late 2019 or 2020, there is… Read more »

John

It all comes back to whether or not they could fill all those seats. Where exactly is the sweet spot in having plane too big that you can’t fill all the seats or too small that it’s less passenger efficient? The A380 is a perfect example of a plane too big and Boeing was correct in betting against the hub to hub versus direct flights that the B787 is capable of. One other advantage the 777x has over the A350 is while there may be more A350’s in service now, there are many more 777’s in service and carriers of… Read more »

Jim nograles

Let Boeing build it first and the market Will judge who is the winner. Boeing has not proven their hypothesis yet. Thus there is no point of comparing Airbus 350 with a paper plane of Boeing.

ANDREW BOYDSTON

Having more aircraft size at the thinner end of the market means a “winner takes all” outcome. Since the A350 has a leg up on orders, time, and price. The 777X must establish a new market segment for which the A50 is not suited optimally. Optimization and market need is driving the Boeing offering.

Dwight Looi

A simpler way to look at it is this…

If you can fill a 777-9 it is a better aircraft than the A350-1000 because it’ll cost you less per passenger. But if you can’t, then the A350 is a better plane. Nothing costs more than empty seats!

Xavier Cugat

This is why the A380, sadly, didn’t succed. And the workd is changing feom the hub to hub model to a point to point model.

That’s why Emirates is the main user os the A380, as they are a hub to hub company. The time is not the right one for the very big planes.

Arthur

The problem the 777x has is that it has the same MTOW as the 77W. This means that despite its size, it hits its MTOW a lot faster than the 77W because of its much higher OEW, and either payload or fuel has to be sacrificed to accommodate passengers or fuel. The A350 can hit max. pax. capacity much later while maintaining large amounts of range, especially with the unleashing of the 319 ton MTOW A350-1000, and certification for up to ~485 seats.

Karl

1. In a like-for-like, apples-to-apples comparison the seat bottom width on the 777X at 10-abreast is 17,4 inches (i.e. 2 -inch wide armrests (2 x 13) and 17-inch wide aisles (2 x 17) – leading to an effective cabin width of 234 inches = 5.94 m). On the A350-1000 at 9 abreast the seat width is 18 inches (i.e. 2-inch wide armrests (2 x 12) and 17-inch wide aisles (2 x 17) – leading to an effective cabin width of 220 inches = 5.59 m). 2. Airbus can quite easily modify the A350 wing in order to significantly increase lift… Read more »

Charles Bolland

Note the 3 big Middle eastern carriers have placed orders for the 777-x. This may not materialize if the big 3 american carriers start complaining about unfair trade practices such as government subsidies etc. or if the ME3 fail or lose market share.

DelMonte

The US 3 have beeen complaing about the ME3 for years. However, with no success. Currently the ME3 are earning less due to intense competition of Turkish AL and other carriers in Asia and Africa. Hence a reduction in B777 orders is quite possible.

Don

I tend to like to look at who the airlines are ordering as they are the ones who are the true judges and look at maintenance, true price (not list), etc. In looking at the two families of aircraft in total and not just judging by one model, you can see that the 777 and A350 families are about even for this year in orders, Boeing came out ahead last year by a slim margin, Airbus the year before, and the two years before that were all Boeing. Probably the most disconcerting is that since the A350 has started being… Read more »

Arthur

That is because the 777x has gotten initial orders. The A350 got roughly 292 initial orders during its testing campaign. Besides, from 2015-2019 the 787 got 290 orders not 400. The 777-8/9x got 48 orders in total from 2015 to 2019, and Lufthansa’s 20 are now only optional.

The A350 got 193 orders total from 2015-2019.

Now lets just mention that the 777x has a total of 325 orders (20 of which are optional), the 787 1,455 and the A350 913 firm orders. The 777x is selling much worse by far, and the 787 is doing better.

Jared

“This is because the Boeing 777X actually sits 10 passengers across in economy compared to the Boeing A350 at 9.”

Heads up that this needs correcting.

A Comfortable Seat

Huh, didn’t know Boeing made the A35K 😛

keesje

Add empty weight to the comparison & shiver..

Tony

these are aircraft meant for long-haul; passenger comfort therefore becomes paramount, including economy. the 10 seats across (3-4-3) of Boeing is really not good for economy passengers; but if they stick to a 9 passenger scheme, then that would be added space for them…

Vedant Ganesh

Ahem at one point you said Boeing A350
Something isn’t right here…

Chris Loh

Thanks for catching that! We’ve made the fix.

Andy

The Boeing 777x-8 is the clear winner in long distance flights and if you need a long range aircraft it’s the go to choice.