The longer-range version of Boeing’s new 777X is intended for a niche market of very long and somewhat thinner routes than its sibling, the 777-9. While the latter is now set to enter service in 2022, production of the former is yet to begin. The question is, with customer demand virtually non-existent, will there ever be what 777-8?
From DXB to LAX with a full payload
Boeing’s new widebody flagship, the 777X, suffered from challenges and delays almost immediately after its conception. Its first flight only happened in January 2020, one year later than scheduled. Just yesterday, we learned that Emirates, which initially expected its first 777X this year, will not receive the aircraft until 2023.
The Dubai-based airline caused quite a stir when ordering 115 units of the 777-9 and 35 of the shorter, longer-range version, the 777-8, following the Dubai Air Show in 2013. The order was valued at a total of $76 billion ($83 billion in 2020).
The 777-8 would have a range of 16,170 km, as opposed to the 13,500 km of its stretched sibling. It is intended for Gulf carriers to be able to fly from the Middle East to the US West Coast. Specifically, it was said, Emirates’ President Tim Clark was looking for a plane that could operate Dubai to Los Angeles with a full payload.
Furthermore, it was Boeing’s bid for Qantas’ Project Sunrise. However, as we know, it lost out to its foremost competition, the Airbus A350-1000.
Exact timetable depending on demand
Boeing has intended for production of the 777-8 to commence about two years after that of the 777-9. However, the exact date and its entry into service would depend partly on customer demand, a Boeing executive said in October 2019.
“Our timetable on the 777-8 obviously is still under consideration for when it actually enters service. But it is really more of when (we have) the combination of the demand from our customers and how it aligns with the design and production for the 777X as a program,” Darren Hulst, a senior marketing executive at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said at the time.
The only 45 on order could be swapped
If customer demand is what Boeing is going after, the 777-8’s production’s postponement could become permanent. Apart from Emirates’ 35, the only other airline to opt for the plane thus far is Qatar Airways, which has a firm order for ten. Both airlines have since hinted that they may swap the 777-8 orders for other aircraft; Qatar for the 777-9, and Emirates for the 787 Dreamliner.
Simple Flying has reached out to Boeing for an update on the 777-8 time-line but was yet to receive a reply at the time of publication. This article will be updated as appropriate.
What do you think? Will Boeing ever make the 777-8? Let us know in the comments.