Airbus Wants To Build A 400+ Seat A350 Variant To Rival The Boeing 777X

Now that the A380 program has ended, speculation has focused on what will be the next big project for Airbus

The aerospace manufacturer has hinted at making an extended A350 variant that could go head to head with the Boeing 777X.

What are the details?

At this point, it is only a rumor, but there is a strong possibility that Airbus will offer a further extension on their A350-1000 to rival the 777X.

In the past, Airbus was reluctant to explore a further stretch (only offering it to Singapore during the Paris Air Show in 2017) as it would have cannibalized capacity from the 500 seater A380. But now that program is retired, Airbus can dust off old plans.

Currently, it seems only Qatar is interested in a possible stretch instead of replacing their A380s with 787s, but other airlines like Qantas might quickly snap up the aircraft if the extension comes with a long-range option (for their proposed routes from Sydney to London).

In a previous article, we compared the A350 vs the 777X. The conclusion of that article is whilst the A350-1000 is superior in some ways, the Boeing 777X-9 variant trumps the Airbus aircraft.

qatar airways
This infographic explains the efficiency of the A350-1000. Image: Airbus

What would a A350-2000 look like?

The new stretch, dubbed the -2000 by industry professionals, would only be an additional four meters long (79 meters in total). But this stretch would allow another four rows (approx 45 more seats) on board. This increase in seats and exit limit would place the A350 strentch from 379 seats to 414 seats (In a three class configuration), one seat less than the 777-9.

777-9 777x
There are currently two designs for the Boeing 777-9, a two class layout and a three class layout.

It would only require another 3% thrust to fly and thus the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engines would be suffecient to fly the aircraft with no redisign required.

This aircraft would have a reduced range of around 14,100 km (7,600 nmi), but still competitive with the Boeing 777-9.

A rendering of the 777-9X and 777-8X.
A rendering of the 777-9X and 777-8X. Photo: Boeing

However, some say that Airbus is waiting for a next generation engine before commiting to this design (Rumored to be called the ‘Ultra Fan’, this new engine would make the aircraft more fuel efficient than the Boeing 787).

As many A350s have yet to be constructed, orders can easily be changed. This new design would not require a great deal of effort to be implemented.

What do you think? Will airbus futher stretch the A350 to competed with the Boeing 777-9?

44 comments
  1. I comparate 777-9 and a350-1000 on my blog and i give the advantage to the a350-1000, and i think airbus don’t make an stretch a350, since 2014 i think the future of the hight market will be for twinjet with a upper deck.

      1. an twin jet with the same fuselage than the a350XWB and a upper deck like the 747, this plane have more capacity and not more longer than the actuals jets. This plane with a 72,8 meters fuselage and a upper deck with 14 meters cabin can take 440 passengers in 3 classes ( 44 business, 36 economy premium and 360 in economy), againt 406 fot the 777-9 ( in a 40/32/334 configuration). He could take 510 passengers in a Carabean configuration like the air France 777-300ER ( in a 16/24/470 configuration)! And in all classes he have larger seats the the 777-9.
        With 14 000 km range his maximal take off should be 330 tons approx.

        and 3 meters more longer he could take 465 seats in 3 classes or 540 seats in carribean configuration, but his range is shorter, maybe 13 000 km and he could be 7 or 8 tons heavyer.

    1. The B777 is all metal old design, the A350 is a mostly composite, modern design, lighter, less maintainent, more fuel efficient, plane.

  2. Airbus will go for at least one more stretch but may wait for the RR Advance engine. The new engine will add additional miles as well as fuel economy and make it a better bet against the 777-9

    1. Indeed, there is quite a chance for this situation as the Trent XWB is not powerful enough for an additional stretch.
      The new RR will provide 10-15% of economy on the Trent XWB !

      1. How do you work that out? The new 777-9 is a larger heavier aircraft than the 300ER yet the engines are less powerful than the GE90’s. The XWB97 has some scope to go to a higher thrust. The most important issue is Airbus advancing the wing of the A350. They have made 3 design changes so far since the initial A350’s started being delivered and Airbus are still evaluating changes to the wing surfaces and aspect ratios. The A350-1000 wing modifications are being transferred onto the 900. Boeing have done that on the 777x series and need a less powerful engine. Rolls Royce have no incentive to bring out an Ultrafan NEO for the A350 just 10 years into the programme.

  3. An UltraFan-powered A350-2000 would absolutely destroy the 777-9. The GE9X engine on the 777X is about 5% more efficient than the Trent XWB-97 engine on the A350-1000. A 100,000 lbs of thrust UltraFan engine would be at least 5% more efficient than the GE9X engine.

    As for the length of an A350-2000; it can easily be stretched by more than 4 meters over that of the A350-1000.

    The fuselage length of the A350-1000 is 72.25 meters, while the overall length of the aircraft is 73.79 meters — from the nosecone to the outer aft tip of the horizontal tailplane. By stretching the fuselage by five frames ahead of the wing (5 x 25″) and by four frames aft of the wing (4 x 25″), the A350-2000 would be stretched by 5.7 meters (225″) while the overall length would be 79.5 meters. Hence, an increase in of 225 inches is equal to about 7 seat rows at 9 abreast and with a seat pitch of 32″.

    As for the exit limit; a five frame stretch of the forward fuselage would mean that doors 2-A/-B would have to move one frame forward in order not to exceed the 60 ft spacing limit between doors. The current doors 3-A/-B could be swapped out by two Type III overwing emergency exit doors, while a new set of standard Type A passenger doors would be located between doors 3-A/-B (the Type III doors) and doors 5-A/-B (formerly doors 4-A/-B on the A350-1000).

    A 79.5 meter long A350-2000 would have an empty weight some 20 metric tonnes lower than that of the 777-9. It would have 20 to 30 more economy class seats in a three class configuration — assuming same number of seats in first and business class — than the 777-9, leading to a 10-15 percent lower fuel burn per seat for the A350-2000 over that of the 777-9.

    Perhaps, therefore, the author should start to take a dismal view of the future prospects for the 777X programme, if and when Airbus launches not only an A350neo programme, but a stretched UltraFan-powered A350-2000 as well.

    1. I think that the comment isn’t so appropriate…
      If you look at the B787-10 and A350-900, you realize that both are outstanding airliners, but that each of them is focused on a different market.
      The B787 seems to have better economic performances on the regional market while the A350 has better long haul performances.
      Even if the RR Ultrafan will provide additional economics, the B777 will be a great airplane with a great success.
      Boeing has one major advantage. The B787 is highly successful, and many airlines have it.
      The B777 will come with a cockpit very similar, in order to have a common type rating.
      When you consider small fleets, having only one long haul type rating, is economically interesting. No additional training needed, more flexibility…

      We also need to keep in mind that Airbus was waiting the decision to make a move with the A350-2000. But Boeing was waiting Airbus to decide on the A350-2000 for the potential launch of the B777-10X. So even if the A350-2000 will be heads up against the B777-9X, there might still be a bigger B777.
      Considering this, there is the question (for both manufacturers), is it worth investing more for being in a kind of status quo?
      To me, it would be a good move. However, considering the A350-1000 “low” amount of orders, I am wondering if a bigger version would be successful. A larger wing might be needed, so the development cost wouldn’t be for free.

      1. Comment not appropriate?

        I’m sorry, but the 777X programme is in a precarious situation if an UltaFan-powered A350-2000 enters into service around 2025.

        It appears as if Boeing made a massive strategic mistake in 2013 when they let their own hubris dominate their response to the A350-1000 — i.e. among other things; believing their own FUD directed against the A350-1000 programme:

        https://www.reuters.com/article/us-airshow-boeing-777/boeing-hits-back-at-airbus-over-a350-plan-idUSTRE75I0RQ20110619

        Now, the fact of the matter is that the weight advantage of a composite fuselage increases as an aircraft increase in size — and the use of composites in a fuselage is particularly advantageous for “super-stretched” fuselages.

        In addition to the pressurization and torsion loads, the fuselage also sees bending loads from its distributed weight load plus the tail weight and airloads. In the case where the pressurization-sized shell is not sufficient to withstand this, additional bending material area must be added at the top and bottom of the centre fuselage and also at sides of the shell.

        Hence, the very long fuselage panels* on the A350 requires significantly less strengthening as the fuselage is stretched. In fact, on a super stretched carbon composite fuselage a reduction of up to 30 percent in weight can be achieved if the same bending stiffness as that of the metallic standard body is taken into account.

        For these reasons, a 777-10 would turn out to be even more uncompetitive with a stretched A350-1000 family — even if the engine technology on a 777-10 would be on par with that of an A350-2000 (which it won’t).

        So, while Boeing is preoccupied with the NMA, they appear to be very vulnerable in the large wide-body sphere.

        *Another advantage of the A350 design.

          1. Just like how Boeing wins military contracts. Airbus actually won a contract off the US and then Boeing complained and got it canceled. So its a bit tit for tat.

        1. First, let me tell you that I don’t think that I’m biased, and that I find usually Airbus aircrafts better as passenger, and that I find all comments of Boeing fans regarding “free loans” being unfunded and based on nothing but air. Especially as all aircrafts that made Boeing rich are based on military developments and were turned into civilian aircrafts for almost nothing…

          Now, about the A350 – B777X competition
          According to me (and it’s only an opinion), to answer the question regarding the future of both airliners, we need to understand what drives decisions of airlines when choosing an aircraft.
          Parameters:
          – fuel efficiency
          – reliability and flying safety
          – aircraft cost (ownership, maintenance)
          – availability
          – commonality of the fleet
          – second hand market
          – outlook of the fuel costs

          The needs for airliners will continue to increase, no matter the size and the range. It sometimes happens that airlines need an aircraft quickly. And with the production capacity of the manufacturers, alone both wouldn’t manage it. It would take one generation for a major shift.
          Let’s take the example of Swiss. It is a very recent B777 new operator.
          Why that? Their former A340 wasn’t efficient enough anymore. Ideally the A350 (or eventually B787) could have been good choices because both are more fuel efficient than the B777.
          Swiss (lufthansa) started to look for opportunities. Boeing offered the B777-300 for an interesting price (which explains the increase of the order). So the B777-300 is less fuel efficient than more modern ones, but it might make sense economically if the ownership cost is compensating the fuel cost. The assumption of Lufthansa regarding future fuel cost might be acceptable.

          Other example, the A330 CEO who continued to sell despite the B787 flying.

          As I explained, the commonality of a fleet can be an important factor. Let take a small airline such as Austrian. They have the B767 and B777 now. They will most likely replace those with a B787, B787-B777 mix, A330, A330-A350 mix or A350 alone.
          For airlines having both the B777 and the B787, it would make sense to replace the B777 with the B777X.
          Some airlines have very strong ties with one manufacturer or the other. Some Airlines are very conscious of environmental issues some don’t care…

          To conclude, major airlines today tend to have mixed fleets. This is especially the case when ordering not existing planes.
          Why that? The B787 grounding is a reminder that a new airliner comes with some risks.
          The competition is the other reason. The more A and B are competing, the more the motorists are competing, the better the cost efficiency of the airlines will be.
          The A330 / A350 emirates order is an example of it.
          Qatar, Cathay, Singapore, Lufthansa, Etihad ordered both the B777x and the A350.
          Will Airbus grow its market share on the long haul market? Yes, a lot.
          Will Boeing decrease the volume of sales on the long haul market? I doubt it.

          1. Boeing had to do something to respond to the A350-1000. The success of the 777-300ER from 2004 and onwards seemed early on to have helped to breed a dangerous sense of complacency in Seattle. When Boeing launched the 787, all the talk in town was that the eventual 777-300ER replacement aircraft was going to be all composite – just like the 787. When the 787 programmes was going off the rails, however, all the talk about a Y1 (all composite 737NG replacement) and Y3 (all composite 777-300ER replacement) subsided – and shortly after Airbus had launched the A320neo a couple of years later — Boeing was forced to scramble together a response when American Airlines were about to order a chunk of A32Xceo/A32Xneo aircraft. So much for Boeing’s long term strategic planning.

            With their failure to foresee Airbus’ next probable move post the EIS of the 777-9, Boeing’s management appear to have lulled themselves into believing that the heavy 777X — based on the 777 legacy aluminum fuselage — would be enough to counter a stretched A350-1000 that could be powered by a significantly more efficient engine than the one going on the 777X, and entering into service soon after the EIS of the 777-9. Perhaps, because Boeing didn’t achieve their advertised weight savings on the 787 over that of the A330 — and before it became clear that Airbus did, in fact, achieve their projected A350 weight savings over that of the 777 — Boeing’s managers may have failed to fully realise that the bigger the aircraft, the greater the advantages attributed to composite materials become.

            The competitive business for Large Commercial Airliners (LCA) can be viewed through game-theoretical modeling, where decisions by one player are dependent on the moves expected of the other player. In game-theory terms, the response from Airbus vis-à-vis the 777-9, in particular, must be viewed as a threat, changing Boeing’s potential rate of return for developing the 777X. That threat is now clear. The 777X programme is in risk of being made uncompetitive overnight just 5 years after EIS of the 777-9.

            Now, the A330neo is competitive with the 787 because the fuel delta is in the low single digits, if not the same, and because it has 95% spares commonality and same type rating as the A330ceo — which together with a large existing A330 operator base (>120 operators) will make the A330neo a very attractive option for airlines looking to replace not only aging A330s, but also Boeing 767s and 777-200ERs.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Airbus_A330_operators

            When the A345/A346 tanked, Airbus had the A330 to fall back on. If the 777X tanks some 5 years after EIS, Boeing has nothing to fall back on in terms of 777 manufacturing. That’s a massive difference.

            Also, the 777-300ER has a much smaller operator base the 777X is a new type derivative with only 30 percent parts commonality with its predecessor. While the A330neo is a minimum effort, lowest cost tweek, the 777X is nearly all new (80% or more) and cost huge bucks (double digit billion dollars — engines included).

            https://centreforaviation.com/analysis/reports/777-300er-fleet-report-orders-have-peaked-but-swiss-united-and-kuwait-new-operators-in-2016-268001

          2. John,

            Boeing had to do something to respond to the A350-1000. The success of the 777-300ER from 2004 and onwards seemed early on to have helped to breed a dangerous sense of complacency in Seattle. When Boeing launched the 787, all the talk in town was that the eventual 777-300ER replacement aircraft was going to be all composite – just like the 787. When the 787 programmes was going off the tracks, however, all the talk about a Y1 (all composite 737NG replacement) and Y3 (all composite 777-300ER replacement) subsided – and shortly after Airbus had launched the A320neo a couple of years later — Boeing was forced to scramble together a response when American Airlines were about to order a chunk of A32Xceo/A32Xneo aircraft. So much for Boeing’s long term strategic planning.

            With their failure to foresee Airbus’ next probable move post the EIS of the 777-9, Boeing’s management appear to have lulled themselves into believing that the heavy 777X — based on the 777 legacy aluminum fuselage — would be enough to counter a stretched A350-1000 that could be powered by a significantly more efficient engine than the one going on the 777X, and that could be entering into service soon after the EIS of the 777-9. Perhaps, because Boeing didn’t achieve their advertised weight savings on the 787 over that of the A330 — and before it became clear that Airbus did, in fact, achieve their projected A350 weight savings over that of the 777 — Boeing’s managers may have failed to fully realise that the bigger the aircraft, the greater the advantages attributed to composite materials become.

            The competitive business for Large Commercial Airliners (LCA) can be viewed through game-theoretical modeling, where decisions by one player are dependent on the moves expected of the other player. In game-theory terms, the response from Airbus vis-à-vis the 777-9, in particular, must be viewed as a threat, changing Boeing’s potential rate of return for developing the 777X. That threat is now clear. The 777X programme is in risk of being made uncompetitive overnight just 5 years after EIS of the 777-9.

            Now, the A330neo is competitive with the 787 because the fuel delta is in the low single digits, if not the same, and because it has 95% spares commonality and the same type rating as the A330ceo. Thus, with a large existing A330 operator base (>120 operators) the A330neo seems to be an attractive option for airlines looking to replace not only aging A330s and A340s, but also Boeing 767s and 777-200ERs.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Airbus_A330_operators

            It’s also worth noting that when the A345/A346 tanked, Airbus had the A330 to fall back on with respect to manufacturing. If the 777X tanks some 5 years after EIS, Boeing has nothing to fall back on in terms of keeping the 777 line going — that’s a massive difference.

            Furthermore, the 777-300ER has a much smaller operator base than the A330 and the 777X is a new type derivative with only 30 percent parts commonality with its predecessor. While the A330neo is a minimum effort, low cost tweek, the 777X is nearly all new (80% or more) and cost huge bucks (double digit billion dollars — engines included).

            https://centreforaviation.com/analysis/reports/777-300er-fleet-report-orders-have-peaked-but-swiss-united-and-kuwait-new-operators-in-2016-268001

          3. Nicholas, due to a double posting you may remove/delete the comment of mine that was posted on February 20, 2019 at 7:31 pm. Thanks!

  4. Why not? If it doesn’t work out, they don’t have to repay the investment anyway. Just keep trying stuff ’till something works. If they can eventually drive the the one remaining commercial aircraft company (Boeing) out of business with their unlimited resources, they we can all fly around in planes designed by nation-states – China, Russia, Europe – unfettered by those capitalist bean counters who are constantly trying to figure out what people would actually pay for if they had a choice.
    Sounds great.

  5. The length of the aircraft doesn’t add up. Each frames on A350 is around 25″. So in order to add 4 row of seats at 31″-32″ seat pitch they need 5 frames (125″ total which is 3.175m in length). That would bring the total length of the aircraft to 76.955m.

    They won’t need to add extra pair of door because both the middle and rear fuselage could accommodate those extra frames without exceeding the 60 feet rules between each doors.

    Also 4 rows of seats equals to 36 economy class seats, not 45 seats.

    So seating would be around 351 seats on economy class and 48 seats on business class cabin using the reversed herringbone configuration.

  6. Karl, Excelent words and analysis… I do share your concern and your thougts.
    Please John, you are maybe formated by Boeing… but let the analysis from above your understanding get forward… and with humility Learn as we do all… here !

    1. Definitely not formatted by Boeing…
      I usually answer to the comments that are saying that one or the other will win the market and that the other will fail.

      I agree with Karl on the technicality, the fact that the A350-2000, and the A350-NEO will be more fuel efficient. There is no doubt on that.
      But fuel efficiency doesn’t mean that the competitor will be killed by the new aircraft.
      The B777 maximum production rate was around 99 per year (2013-2015), so 8.3 per month.

      Let’s compare that with the situation today:
      – B777, 5 / month (in January, the backlog was 100)
      – A350, 10 / month target
      – B787, 2-4 / month (replacing the B777-200, so it can be included here).
      So today, for the same size of aircraft, the production doubled !

      We need to consider that the A380 and the B747 will disappear. Therefore, the number of aircraft produced might continue to increase.
      And to increase further the production, each manufacturer and the suppliers would need to build additional assembly lines. This means a risky investment.

      An other parameter, the cargo load is an advantage for the B777 over the A350 (if I’m not mistaken).

      If you take all those elements into consideration, I believe that Boeing and Airbus will have both a successful program with the A350 and the B777X.
      Airbus will take some market share of course because it has finally a direct competitor to the B777.
      But I believe that the fuel efficiency and the cash efficiency are two different things !
      And the earlier availability of a large B777X over the A350 will of course push some clients to go for Boeing.

      1. Realistically speaking, the annual production output of the 777X will at best reach 50 units per year. Keep in mind that the 150 777X aircraft ordered by Emirates is scheduled to be delivered over a 10 year period (2020-2029) — that’s 15 units per year. Additional annual deliveries from 2020 would include 5-8 units to Qatar Airways and 3-5 units each for ANA, Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines — BTW, Etihad Airways seems to have reduced their order of 25 777X aircaft to just 6 units. Between 2021-2025, therefore, it’s reasonable to expect no more than 35 to 45 777X deliveries per year. For deliveries post 2025, I’d expect Emirates to cancel about half of their 150 777X firm orders.

        Now, as the annual production output would be more than 100 percent higher on the A350 production line than on the 777X line, one should look at the effects of the experience curve; every doubling of output will lead to a 15 percent reduction in production costs — an 85 percent experience curve.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experience_curve_effects

        So, not only would the 777-9 have to compete with an A350-2000 that would not only have a slightly larger capacity and a 10-15 percent lower fuel consumption per seat, but which would also have a significantly lower per unit production cost — i.e. A350 manufacturing costs spread over all the A350-900/A350-1000/A350-2000 units in production.

  7. Both planes have pluses & minuses. Airbus has to have a stable, working and economical Trent engine from RR. Boeing has to re-invest in a more up to date platform. There is product hop scotch going on here. Remember when A350 was strictly a 787 competitor?

    Also, while the top speeds and cruising speeds are published by the makers, it is actually the airlines who determine the cruising speeds for their markets. A350 XWB does well in long duration flights because the carriers suppress the cruising speeds over the long distances. Not as noticeable to the customers. Very noticeable when the fuel bill arrives.

    However the 787, on shorter hauls, lower cruising speeds by the airlines would be noticeable on timetables and therefore to the clients, so they can’t dawdle and must maintain higher cruising speeds, this costs fuel.

    So comparing aircraft types by specifications alone is an incomplete activity. One must have operational data, which we all know is hidden in the vaults of each airline.

    As for who will make the commitment for what long term, I think Lufthansa is the wild card here. They have been a long term user of the 747 platform including the ill fated 747-8i. They have Boeing flight deck knowledge, a support infrastructure and other institutional knowledge of Boeing products on long haul routes.

    It will be very interesting to see where this all goes. Ultimately I think they both will win. There is plenty of business for the 2 of them.

    1. The A350 that you mention was a derivative of the A330.
      Even if the aircraft kept the same name, the launch of the new platform was clearly to compete with the B777.
      Airlines didn’t want a 330 derivative back in 2006. They asked for an aircraft with a larger fuselage than the former Airbus platforms, and a larger fuselage than the B787.

      But you’re right, it is more complex than what “fans” of each side assume. So many parameters such as availability, the design choice for what type of flight it is designed for, the commonality of the platforms (type-rating, engineers, mechanician …) that are to be considered.

      For Lufthansa, the choice of airliner is really complex. It is a big group, and each airline has a different market…
      But on top of having airlines in the group, there is Lufthansa Technik !
      In 2017, the revenue of the group was € 35.6 billion.
      For Lufthansa technik, the revenue was € 5.4 billion, of which € 3.5 billion for external revenue. So 15% of the revenue of the group.
      The adjusted EBIT of L Technik was € 0.415 billion. For the group, the EBIT was € 2.973
      This means 14% of the EBIT comes from LT.
      The reason for the revenues of LT comes from the variety of aircraft that are maintained there. Therefore, having a large range of aircraft types in the group is a strategic choice.
      The initial thought of extra-cost for it is not that true I think. Airbus and Boeing know both that they have strong chances to place their aircrafts. Therefore the price could be very competitive.
      Plus the MRO market is slightly uncorrelated to the passenger demand. It is a smart diversification, also allowing to manage the safety level with higher transparency than with external companies !

  8. It seems like some commentators here are only viewing AB’s potential future moves and comparing them with BA’s current designs.(777X in production now, so close to current, AB 350/2000 a long way from that). If prodded, BA could move to new engine types etc as well. Competition is always about scenarios that don’t stay still.

    1. Well, the A350 will get the NEO version in 2025. It is quite likely that the A350-2000 will be the first of this version.
      But indeed Boeing will arrive much earlier.

      However, people seem to be very extreme in their point of views. Whether one or the other will lose.
      But in the reality neither have the capacity to produce enough for the market needs. So this will end up being quite balanced. Airbus is taking some long-haul market shares (because in the past it wasn’t that good). Only the A330 is commercially a huge success, and the A350 can already be considered as a success (not saying that it’s better or worse than Boeing, but that clients are satisfied with the performances).

      And one element never taken into account is the financial crisis potential that could change the plans of airlines. The lack of liquidity might slow down the selling. Plus, in case of financial crisis, the oil price usually drops… So the need for efficient aircrafts won’t be the same.

      However, one element that you didn’t mention is that Airbus already studied the changes to bring to the A350 to make it longer. So the conception wouldn’t be so long. Especially as the engineers just worked on that aircraft. In that way, it’s a bit less complex than the Boeing B777X which has a lot of changes.
      The A350 Neo will indeed certainly only have a new engine, and the continuous improvements. The few changes will be for the 2000 version where the wing might be bigger, the landing gear more resistant and eventually a smaller stabilize.

  9. At least one more stretch and further modifications to all A350 versions will happen as market demand and technology allow. Stretches can run into complications if the distance between the tail and main gear gets large enough to cause tail-strikes on rotation, but even that can be fixed by modifying the gear. Extra weight will eventually demand more wing area, but weight added due to increased area might be trimmed by using more advanced materials throughout. As young as the A350 is, material science has moved forward, and I’ve no doubt the design will benefit from those advances.

    Boeing’s three versions of the 787 show the current commercial aircraft market is more bifurcated than has been thought. The expansion of point-to-point flying opens up niches for smaller versions of each model with longer ranges and larger versions with shorter ranges. The A350 won’t be an exception. I’ve no doubt we’ll see refits to both the A350-900 and A350-1000 along with a stretched A350-?. Each will cost a few billion dollars, and each will be profitable.

    Modifying the 777 into two newer, bigger, better aircraft is thought to be costing approximately $5 billion (a bargain compared to the possible $20 billion Boeing spent developing three versions of the 787), and with hundreds of orders on the books it’s hard to imagine the 777X program being in trouble, just as it’s hard to imagine the 777-9 being the last word in the 777X program. The 777X structure can stand another stretch, even if the final product will have to give up some range. Who cares? There are plenty of city-pairs within 7,000 miles that could benefit from a 460 passenger 777-10.

    And do we think the Ultrafan is some kind of trump card Airbus can throw down that Boeing can’t play? Are we to believe Rolls Royce will sell the Ultrafan to Airbus, but not to Boeing? I don’t think so, Lucy…. Which plane will be easier to adapt to the 12 ft diameter Ultrafan, the A350, which currently mounts a 10 ft diameter engine, or the B777X, which mounts a 13 ft diameter engine?

    This Airbus vs Boeing fanboy bickering is tedious, and misses the point – their design and manufacturing competition has been good for us all. It’s produced better narrow and wide body designs, more comfortable planes and cheaper flights for us all, and I feel very safe flying on any of them (pilot error remains the principal cause of most commercial aircraft accidents). May Airbus and Boeing and whomever else chooses to join the fray continue fighting tooth and nail as long as the envirowackos let us to fly!

    1. 28 billion is the overcost of the project. The development cost was 32 billion.
      Of course, from this, there is a part that goes into the development of facilities that remain, and for technologies and developments that will be used in the 777X, the 737 MAX and the 797.
      But if we look at the gross development cost, this is the result.

      And regarding the stretches, indeed Boeing might go for an additional one.
      The strategy of Airbus might be to add this longer version in 2025 with the NEO version.
      But if we look at both, the B777-X has more potential for higher capacity than the A350. And no matter what the moves of Airbus are, Boeing will most likely want to have the biggest twin engine. This aircraft will be interesting for airlines having the B747, the A380… But it’s not the biggest share of the market. However, it will allow flexibility to airlines. The largest version would be up to 25-27% larger than the smallest version. So even some airlines might be interested in having mostly the smallest version and few of the largest for very high density lines.

      1. The reason sole source contracts are awarded for derivative programs is due to the development costs. That is the reason the A380 died as RR was not willing to commit resources for a small amount of new aircraft.

    2. It is real funny how the Airbus build the A380 thinking that that aircraft was going to be in big demand and it has eaten Airbus lunch to the tune of more than 20 billion dollars. The same applies to the to the A400M over 20 billion and will never make any money for Airbus. I have tracked Airbus since I started my career at EASTERN Airlines the first carrier that operated the A300 aircraft in the USA and seeing how they basically gave the airplanes away for free at the time. Since that time period Airbus has continued to be a government subsidized entity whose major shareholders are the French and German governments who also have to confirm the CEO and President. The A330NEO will never sell like the 787 has been selling as evidenced by the cancellation of Hawaiian Airlines of the A330NEO order for the 787. The 777x will be a great airplane and probably a freighter version will be built which will enable it to continue Boeing’s dominance in the freighter market. Having worked on over 14 fleet types in my career I can tell you that the Boeing product is superior to the Airbus product from the maintenance and engineering standpoint. Also for those of you who think that a composite airframe is cheap to build are living in fantasy land. Composite MFG and repair is much more expensive than a traditional metal airplane. The 748-8 will continue to sell as freighter and Boeing will continue to dominate the freighter market. Boeing has committed to continue improving it and its engines.

  10. Good afternoon, your original was flawed and biased. The 777-9 by no means “trumps” the A350-1000. (1) the A350-1000 has more range (2) the A350-1000 is clean sheath carbon fiber and lighter (3) the A350-1000 is more comfortable at 9 abreast (4) the A350-1000 has lower operating costs (landing fees, crew, fuel burn etc) because it is smaller. The only advantage of the 777-9 is that it is bigger and can carry more passengers, cramped at 10 abreast which can reduce seat/mile costs slightly compared to the A350 only when fully loaded. Nothing more. A stretched A350-1000 will beat the 777-9 in every way. It will be the same size, much lighter, and with the same or more range. The 777-8 is a niche plane and will die once the 319 t A350-1000 starts flying. A further stretch to the 777-10 will reduce the range and make it even bigger, less efficient, and perhaps enter the “too big” category.

    Not biased for Airbus, but the 777-9 does not trump the A350-1000 by any means and it is concerning that the orders for the 777-9 are from the same players who bought the A380-a narrow market.

    1. At the end of the day Boeing has dominated the wide body market for the last 30 years. During this time period Airbus success has been attributed to their heavy subsidies in order to lower the price.

  11. It amazes me how some think the UltraFan engines will only be available to Airbus and can’t be adapted to Boeing products. What is stopping Boeing from offering UltraFan engines? Do Airbus and RR have a no sale to Boeing agreement?

  12. The comments that a re-engine A350 would beat the 777X are a little flawed. If Boeing does nothing to respond that is probably true. What is the chance that Boeing does nothing and lets Airbus take the large aircraft market. I would say zero chance. As both companies always do, there will be a reaction and an improvement to the 777X. Same as Airbus stretching their A-350 as a reaction to the 777X.

  13. Folks let’s get one thing clear here the A350 came about because of the 787. At the time Airbus said they would come up with a A330 NEO and the market did not look favorably on it. The 787 clearly changed the market dynamics. I the old days Airbus relied heavily like they still do on government subsidies to sell their planes at a loss in order to win the deals. As Boeing has become more efficient and has diversified into other areas of aviation obtaining additional revenue they have become more competitive on aircraft pricing so Airbus is no longer winning campaign based on price. The new version of the A350 if it comes to fruition is Aribus attempt to try to compete with the 777X. Boeing wide bodies have dominated sales since the competition started and they will continue to do so.

  14. And who is to say that Boeing won’t come up with a 787-11 that will blow the A350 range advantage out of the water? The 787 is already acknowledged as the most fuel efficient aircraft out there.
    Without taking sides, Boeing has more options at it’s disposal than Airbus does at this end of the market. Project sunrise doesn’t have to be a competition just between the A350 and 777.
    Not so long ago Boeing was being ridiculed as unable to grow the 737 because of the old airframe, and tailstrike fears from trying to lengthen it. Out came an answer no one predicted – the 737 – 10, with it’s tricky undercarriage.
    Don’t underestimate the innovative abilities of a well proven airframer.

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