Boeing Could Offer The 777-200LR For Project Sunrise

Could Qantas use a Boeing 777-200LR to launch Project Sunrise now rather than waiting around for Airbus or Boeing to deliver their eventual proposals? According to some close to the source its more possible than you think.

Could Qantas get the Boeing 777-200LR instead of the 777-8X? Photo: Boeing Dreamscape via Wikimedia

What are the details?

Project Sunrise is the Qantas plan to launch flights from London direct to Sydney, Australia. Because the distance is so great, Qantas has requested a special aircraft from Boeing or Airbus to complete the feat. What we know so far is that Airbus offered the A350-1000 (unmodified) and Boeing the 777-8X.

Thanks to production delays, Boeing actually offered a powerful incentive to Qantas to take the 777-8X over the A350, despite production being a few years behind their rival (and a completely unproven aircraft as the 777X series has not even taken flight yet).


For us in the media landscape, we assumed that the 777X incentive for Qantas to wait was a steep discount on the 777-8X aircraft. But it turns out it might be something far more physical… a fleet of Boeing 777-200LR aircraft.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner - Qantas - VH-ZNB
Qantas never actually ordered the 777 before. Photo: Steve Lynes via Flickr

Why is Boeing proposing a 777-200LR for Project Sunrise?

According to Airline Ratings who broke this story, this 777-200LR offer is the exact incentive that made Qantas CEO Alan Joyce remark that the Boeing offer was almost too good to pass up. But why offer the 777-200LR in the first place?

Well, for one, the aircraft can do the distance between Sydney and London (and Sydney to New York) with a compromise. The 777-200LR has a range of 15,843 km (8,555 nmi) whilst the range between the two cities is 16,999.5km (9,178.99 nmi).


It would have to do the journey compromising passenger capacity (like the Boeing 787 aircraft used in the test flights). This would likely be a flight carrying 270 passengers in a two-class configuration rather than 317 it normally carries.

United Boeing 777-200 seat map. Photo: United

The proposal is that Boeing would give Qantas a fleet of 777-200LRs to match their Project Sunrise order (whether or not these would be new or refurbished aircraft is unknown) which would then be swapped out for new Boeing 777-8X aircraft as they are delivered. The 777-200LRs would then be converted into freight aircraft for FedEx who is not fussed about the second-hand nature of the planes.

Additionally, as an item of trivia, the Boeing 777 was originally designed for Qantas but the airline never actually bought it.

Is this the only plan on offer from Boeing?

An alternative to this plan would be to offer Qantas the bigger 777-9X when it is operational. With Emirates pulling orders from the Dubai Air Show and Lufthansa delaying their deliveries, space has opened up for Qantas to get the aircraft sooner, should they want it.

But these aircraft would not fly full and would need to make compromises to fly the long distance to Australia.

What do you think about this news? Would you fly on a Boeing 777-200LR to Australia? Let us know in the comments.


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High Mile Club

Well, if Qantas wanted it, they’d ask; but as it stands right now they’re being standoffish towards Boeing and Airbus about what they have on the table for their project. I would assume Qantas might take the LR as a last resort if Virgin appears that they’re going to beat them to the punch when it comes to LHR-SYD. Fuel use would be higher than using either an A350 or 777x, but if they really want to get the project off the ground there are current options in spite of the aircraft age.


Joyce: They’re asking too much


If the plane can fly 270 people on the same route, then that’s more than Qantas expected I’m sure. It’s time for Alan Joyce to sign on the dotted line then. The 777-200 Worldliner has more than proven itself thru the years. And if it was originally built for Qantas then it has found its purpose.


Get ready for the dreaded 10 abreast economy seats then! I was really happy when Qantas never ordered the 777 because of how cramped the seats were being in 10 abreast on most carriers. Does Qantas think we are foolish enough to believe they’ll compromise with space? They clearly won’t! If they go ahead with the 777 which they will for the sake of a cheap price then I’ll stick with the a380 through Singapore. Don’t be surprised if they order the 737 Max and 767X when they comes out too!


I dont know where you get that range for the 777-200lr from, but on the official Boeing website the range is 15 843km.


Looking at the figures, a theoretical spare range of 396 kilometers or 2.3% makes me uncomfortable. Is this really deemed enough to cope with emergencies, loss of an engine or even significant bad weather??

Brody Cyr

In terms of only fitting 270 passengers I’d much rather that that the 320+ in normal configuration. If Qantas is going to fly this route however, with its insane distance, I’d much rather them ditch the Economy class on this flight and offer Premium Economy as a base class, kind of like Singapore’s A350 on Newark-Singapore. I wouldn’t mind seeing the 777-200LR on this route though, it would mean that it would regain the title of longest range jet once again.


Qantas will make itself SO ridiculous if it does this route on an old 777. Two reasons:
– It will look like a “poor boy” compared to Singapore Airlines, which uses state-of-the-art new aircraft for the world’s current longest route.
– It will get lambasted by environmental groups, because of the gas-guzzling nature of the old 777.
This circus become more laughable every day!

Bastiaan Naber

Why is ‘air to air’ refueling not more considered for these kinds of flights? Will save a lot of weight and make these kinds of flights ‘easily’ do-able.

michael wesley ocarroll

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michael wesley ocarroll

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I have wondered about this for some time and why they did not do it.

Singapore flies the A350 (or will) on the Singapore to New York route with all of 177 passengers.

This is not only a interim, it may well be a good long term.


Having recently flown in a B77W with 10 abreast economy which is the popular airline choice there is no way I would select a B777-LR for an ultra long haul flight as proposed with Project Sunrise. This high density cabin is disliked by both passengers & cabin crew & Qantas would need to configure this aircraft with 9 abreast as do both Virgin Australia & Singapore Airlines with their 77W’s for the LR to be accepted.


I wouldnt do it in one leg in economy seating in any plane.

wong mun yong

but as far as I have heard Boeing has not have a freighter conversion program for the B777 as yet – seems that IAI has one that is ready


As has been said by others comments; and perhaps should have been included by Nicholas in the original article. Alan Joyce is just talking up his airline for marketing purposes. Singapore Airlines has already done all of the work for ultra long haul (EWR-SIN) including running several 777-200LR with 270 (and less) configuration and tried/trying B787’s and A350’s. All Boeing are doing it pointing this out to Qantas: “there is no need to reinvent the wheel Alan, why don’t you just follow in the footsteps of those that have gone before”.

Moaz Abid

Why don’t they just use an A350 ULR? Singapore used it from NY to Singapore. It can fly for 19 hours. It takes about 17.5 hrs to Sydney. Why not buy it.

John D

Love your endless stories about aircrafts love it