The Boeing 777-200 Vs. The Boeing 777-300 – Which Plane Is Better?

The 777 represents the very best of Boeing engineering. The plane carved out a new market for the manufacturer and kept its European rival at the gates (with its Airbus A330 and A340). But what is the difference between the two original Boeing 777s, the 777-200 and 777-300?

Boeing 777-200
The first Boeing 777-200 takes flight. Photo: Boeing Dreamscape via Wikimedia

Why is the Boeing 777 special?

In the final years of the 1980s, airlines started to look for a replacement for old DC-10 and L-1011 aircraft. Airbus was offering the A330 and A340 as the next generation of aircraft, with airframes so big it put the ‘wide’ in widebody and had a passenger capacity to match. These features made Boeing’s 767X stretch offering too small, and thus Boeing switched to a clean-sheet design.

The aircraft they would come up with would have two engines, fly an incredible distance and fill a niche between the 747 and the 767. This new plane would set records right from the start, as the first aircraft entirely designed on a computer, sporting some of the most powerful engines at the time and later, setting long-range records.

The development of the Boeing 777 is such a tale that its best read here.

The Boeing 777 would prove so popular that even today Boeing is still producing the aircraft, from passenger versions to freight, and soon the Boeing 777X (the new Boeing flagship aircraft following the Boeing 747 and the third generation of the Boeing 777).

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Boeing 777X
The 777X is the next generation of Boeing 777 aircraft. Photo: Jay Singh – Simple Flying

What is the difference between Boeing 777 aircraft?

To understand the difference between each Boeing 777 aircraft, we need to explain how Boeing built each version.

  1. Boeing 777-200 – The original Boeing 777 that first flew in 1994.
  2. Boeing 777-200ER – Extended-range version that took flight in 1996.
  3. Boeing 777-300 – The first stretch that flew in 1997.

The industry calls the three above the Boeing 777 ‘classics’ (the first generation). Next, Boeing built the second generation models.

  1. Boeing 777-300ER – The extended-range version of the 777-300 that flew in 2003
  2. Boeing 777-200LR – The particular long-range version of the 777-200 that completed its first flight in 2005. This aircraft’s range might have been too long. 
  3. Boeing 777-200F – Freighter version of the 777. It is a mix of the fuselage of the 777-200 and the fuel tanks of the 777-300ER. It started to fly for airlines in 2009.
Boeing 777 ER
Blueprints of the 2nd generation of Boeing 777 aircraft. Photo: Julien.scavini via Wikimedia

In the 2000s, the Boeing 777 became the most profitable aircraft for Boeing. Not wanting to give up market share to the Airbus A350, Boeing began work on the third generation of the 777.

  1. Boeing 777-9 – The new flagship Boeing aircraft that took flight last year.
  2. Boeing 777-8 – Currently an unbuilt long-range version of the 777X series. Controversially unpopular.

What is the difference between the Boeing 777-200 and Boeing 777-300?

With an understanding of the different generations, now it is quite simple to explain the difference between the two original Boeing 777s.

  • Boeing 777-200 – Can carry 305 passengers in three classes (24 passengers in first, 54 in business, and 227 in economy) to a range of 5,240 nautical miles (9,700 km).
  • Boeing 777-200ER – Same passengers as above but to a range of 7,065 nautical miles (13,080 km).
  • Boeing 777-300 – Can carry 368 passengers in three classes (30 in first, 84 in business and 254 in economy) to a range of 6,030 nautical miles (11,165 km).

*source for the above figures

The Boeing 777-300 was a simple stretch to accommodate more passengers. This would prove popular in Asian countries, and Cathay Pacific would become the launch customer of the type. The 777-300s more significant range came from bigger fuel tanks, but it would not see range improvements rolled into the design until the next generation.

Which is better?

It is hard to say which aircraft is better. On the one hand, Boeing explicitly designed the Boeing 777-200 for airlines. Yet a few years later, Boeing would make the 777-300 stretch as airlines demanded an ability to put more passengers onboard.

Here are the two models sales numbers:

  • Boeing 777-200 had 88 sales.
  • Boeing 777-300 had 60 sales.

While the former has more sales than the latter, we could suggest that this is because the 777-200 was available years before the 777-300.

It is more telling when you look at the second generation.

  • Boeing 777-200ER had 422 sales.
  • Boeing 777-300ER had 838 sales.

The Boeing 777-300ER came out many years after the 777-200ER, yet sold twice as many. As the 777-300ER shares the same fuselage as the 777-300 and sold more, it is the better design of the two aircraft.

What do you think? Have you flown on the Boeing 777 first generation? Let us know in the comments.