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.

Boeing
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).

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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.

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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).

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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
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.

Peter

Who’d want to fly in a noisy old 777 with Qantas when one could instead fly in a quiet A350 with Virgin?
And the Qantas ticket price would probably be higher than the Virgin ticket price, in view of Qantas’ much higher fuel bill for the trip.

High Mile Club

Are you here as a marketing salesman for Virgin or something? Cause you’ve been bringing that up a lot despite Virgin having yet to publicly commit to doing a direct Kangaroo Route. Granted, Qantas shouldn’t be getting so uptight at having to foot the bill (since no one else is in line to do what they’re doing), but I’d recommend toning down the bias in your comments Pete.

Peter

Seeing as the whole article is about the incessant BS of one airline (Qantas), why not bring another airline into the discussion? An airline that — unlike Qantas — has placed timely orders for new planes. Are you pro-Qantas in some way? Peeved because Alan Joyce’s fumbling has precipitated this whole discussion? Why does any airline have to “publicly commit” to doing any given route? New routes are opened all the time…most of them with relatively little fanfare. Virgin or BA could announce this route tomorrow, if they wanted to. I hope the hell that Virgin/Airbus are reading these discussions,… Read more »

High Mile Club

I’m not pro-Qantas (or any airline for that matter so long as the product is good), but I do want to see where they’ll go with this project they’ve been hyping up for half a year. Virgin expressed potential of handling it, but haven’t committed to actually investing into whether it’d work for them. They haven’t done any real research such as doing test flights for these ultra long haul flights, and just as there are people who would be fine with these 19 hours flights, there are plenty of people who aren’t keen on sitting in a plane for… Read more »

Peter

– Singapore Airlines didn’t run research flights for SQ21/22: they just ordered the plane, took delivery of it, did one transpolar delivery flight, and started commercial operations. – Here are some new routes for you, announced this week. How many did you hear about in advance? https://www.routesonline.com/news/38/airlineroute/ There’s plenty of incentive for Virgin to do this route. Apart from being a PR coup, Virgin have a network in Australia, and a presence in the UK (Virgin Atlantic). Maybe they’ve seen how profitable the Qantas Perth-London route is, and they want a piece of the action. Maybe they’ll announce it next… Read more »

High Mile Club

-You’re forgetting that Singapore used to operate that same route with an A340-500, back in 2004 until 2013 because the revenue got low enough to where the route was unsustainable. They restarted it in 2018 after acquiring the ULR as that plane helped shave off some of the operating cost (largely fuel) while also allowing the airline to introduce newer features they couldn’t do with the older bird. – Those routes aren’t exactly groundbreaking as they are typically short or medium routes, an increase or decrease in service (especially when you look at those announced for the summer), though I’d… Read more »

Transworld

Note the Singapore to NY route carries all of 177 passengers, that is not even a full 737-MAX!

Henning

This direct route is targeting “business people “ who want to travel in premium cabins and paying extra for their tickets. The cheapest tickets with SQ to New York is with their A380 flight that has a short fuel-stop in Germany.

To Old

Just maybe, Peter, Just maybe, ( not half being sarcastic) you are a just a lettle bit biased against Boeing (and The USA). As a consequence you yearn for ANY airline to talk about that has your ‘beautiful’, subsidized Airbus aircraft in their fleet as opposed to one that may place an order with that dirty filthy Boeing co, that you are waiting for to go under.

Now I’ll sit back and watch your vitriol roll.

Massimo

I totally agree with you!!!

Brian Larson

Ive flown for years, virgin is one ive flown with before, with snooty passengers and snooty crew, if the little noise compared to jets back in the 80s your comparing to is all your worried well, get some noise cancel headphones to fix your little ordeal

Gerry Stumpe

“noise cancelling headphones”? How did that work out for Will i.am?

Jeffrey R Hacker

Qantas is the first airline to be actually considering these Project Sunrise routes. Not Virgin or anybody else. I seriously expect that this will require any 777-200 to be premium heavy, with more seats in (maybe First), Business, and Premium Economy, fewer in regular Economy. That would mitigate in favor of 9 abreast Economy, which is also a marketing advantage. The 777 is a great airplane, and it is quickly available. It is not an “old” plane, nor is it especially noisy. I like the A350 as well, but in this case, the 777 would work for the right price.… Read more »

Frank

Joyce: They’re asking too much

Jethro

NO Joyce just buy a A350-1000 and hurry up

fitz

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.

Henning

I would say that, on the 20 longest flights there are just 3 777-200lr, it’s 6 777-300er and 8 A350-900 on that list.

Peter

You’re forgetting the A380: it currently does 2 of the 10 longest flights worldwide:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ericrosen/2019/01/02/the-2019-list-of-the-longest-flights-in-the-world/#32bbd225550b

Phil

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!

High Mile Club

The 767X isn’t coming. Doesn’t make sense why it would either.

Brody Cyr

For Boeing to compete with Airbus the 767X is more reasonable than the completely new design of the 797. Boeing would be able to start production a lot sooner as they still produce the freighter version of the 767. The 797 would need a whole new production line and is easily 10+ years off. The 767X could (if development started now) start production in probably 3 years.

Peter
Max

Peter, when are you going to admit you work for Airbus !

TheDude

The seats have nothing to do with the aircraft. That is an airline option. Boeing doesn’t mandate 10 abreast.

Peter

Not entirely true. The seat mile costs determine the price that can be asked for a ticket. If the seat mile costs are too high, then extra seats have to be stuffed in so as to make a plane viable.
This is actually the reason why 787s are all 9-across. Airlines have the “option” of configuring the cabin 8-across, but the seat mile costs then degenerate toward those of a legacy 767.

TheDude

They have the option to configuring two across if they wanted. I understand seat mile. Airlines wanted cattle cars and all manufacturers stepped up. Airlines want profit and couldn’t care less about comfort unless you pay premium for it.

Karl

@The Dude The 777-9 at 9 abreast can’t compete with the A350-1000 at 9 abreast. In order to compete on seat mile costs, the 777-9 needs BOTH an engine having a 5 percent lower Thrust Specific Fuel Consumption (TSFC) than the competing Trent XWB-97 on the A350-1000 — AND around 40 more seats. Now, the 40 seat delta (three class configuration) in favour of the 777-9 would be reduced by about 25-30 seats if the 777-9 is going to fly around with a 9 abreast configuration in economy class. Although the 777X can hold a couple of extra economy class… Read more »

zulu

The seating abreast has everything to do with the aircraft – its about the width of the fuselage. The 777 is a poor design in this respect forcing airlines to put in narrow aisles (17 inch) and narrow seats ( 17 inch) to achieve 10 abreast (e.g. American Airlines) while 9 abreast (Singapore Airlines) gives seats that wider than necessary. The 777 Boeing designers did not determine the fuselage width from a 18in seat width x 10 plus 18in aisle width X 2 that they were supposed to be doing; the way they did it for the 747 for example.… Read more »

Brian Larson

Actually, its not the aircraft manufacturer that afixes the seat configuration, its the company buying, that configures the seats and how they want to sardine can you in the aircraft

Henning

I dont know where you get that range for the 777-200lr from, but on the official Boeing website the range is 15 843km. https://www.boeing.com/commercial/777/

Karl

Three optional auxiliary fuel tanks take the baseline fuel tank capacity from 181,289 litres to 203,570 litres and increase the max range to 9,395 nm (i.e. 17,399.54 km)

High Mile Club

Where’d you find that information from?

Henning

Wow, that’s almost double the amount of fuel the 787 used on the route. With a price of around 600 US dollar a ton that’s gone be a lot of money

High Mile Club

Either way, Qantas needs to stop thumbing their nose if they want this project to work.

Karl

Well, since the OEW of the 777-200LR is around 145 metric tonnes, it can carry a 30 tonne payload a maximum distance of 9,395 nm; or around 300 passengers + bags (i.e. 300 x 100kg). The OEW of the 787-9 is around 129 metric tonnes. The 787-9 can carry a 30 tonne payload a maximum distance of around 7,400 nm. Also, the 787-9 is not capable of flying 9,395 nm in still air — not even with a zero payload. When the Qantas 787-9 flew from London to Sydney, the aircraft flew eastwards, with tailwinds. So, the 9,188 nm still… Read more »

William

So for 270 passengers 203,000 litres of fuel (about 162,000kg) of which I assume 90% are going to be used. Roughtly 540kg or 676Litres.

High Mile Club

So, if the LR were fitted with 3 AUX tanks, where exactly would they be stored? I’m assuming one would be an addition to the main center tank while the other two would be fitted into the horizontal stabilizers, as they are on all quad-jets.

Karl

The three auxiliary fuel tanks would be installed in the aft belly hold of the 777-200LR. One auxiliary fuel tank is roughly equal in size to one LD-6 container or two LD-3 containers.

AFAIK, however, no 777-200LR has been ordered with auxiliary fuel tanks because they take up room in the cargo hold, which airlines would like to use for revenue.

Norman

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??

High Mile Club

If the aircraft encounters an emergency, it would be diverted to the nearest airport capable of handling it. In most cases, after the aircraft lands (depending on the situation) it would either fly back to its origin point, or a second aircraft would arrive to pick up the passengers and cargo then keep going. In terms of weather delays (and JFK is plagued with them during the summer), the aircraft would most likely divert to Miami, Atlanta, Dulles, or possibly Philadelphia if it’s isolated; but this usually happens if the pilots determine they don’t have enough fuel to be loitering… Read more »

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.

Peter

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!

Henning

Agree, they could just put an A350-900ulron the route, maybe 200 pax in premium configuration, but with the 2/3 of the fuel burn. This route is for business people, the cheapest tickets will always be on a stopover, and that’s what’s gone be on a family vacation of 3-5 people

High Mile Club

“If this was a beauty contest, we just lost.”
“Looks aren’t everything.”

It’s from a recent movie, but it does illustrate a point.

Transworld

Laugh that a new build 777-200LR is an old airplane.

Nick

Why can’t they use a 787-9 ???

Nate Dogg

They were offered what WILL become the stock standard A350-1000 with a 321T MTOW. This aircraft can fly 300 pax on the London to Sydney leg without trouble. For some reason Alan Joyce has rejected it. Which now means Virgin whose 3rd airframe will be a 321T version can beat Qantas to their own Project by about 4 years…..and that’s ONLY if Qantas get in the Airbus queue NOW!!

Peter

I’ve seen reference to a 321T version of the A350 in many of your comments, but I’m only aware of a (new) 319T variant. Have you got a link to the 321T variant that you’re alluding to?

pats

I’d much rather fly that distance on a comfy A350 with higher cabin pressures and increased humidity so that when I land, I won’t feel so awful…

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.

High Mile Club

Anyone in the military can tell you that mid-air refueling is NOT as easy as it looks. It requires heavy coordination from the boom operator and the pilot in order for the aircraft to line up and receive fuel. The slightest miscalculation can cause an aircraft to miss, with the likely scenario being that the plane getting fuel ends up being damaged or damaging the fueling boom, or worse, striking the tail of the tanker. Not only that, I don’t believe civilian aircraft are capable of ‘hot fueling’.

Bastiaan Naber

Ok, but are these points that difficult to solve? Isn’t it worth at least some more investigation? It would open up a lot of potential destinations world wide.

High Mile Club

Well, in order for an aircraft to be capable of mid-air refueling, it has to be designed from the start with the intention to do so. The Boeing 747 you see functioning as Air Force One are heavily modified for government and military use, which in of itself is very costly; there’s two 747-8s getting ready to serve as such to replace the 747-200s currently doing it.

There was a chance it was thought of in the past, but it’s too costly and risky for civilian airlines to use it.

Karl

Well, if you had an ummanned nuclear powered aircraft, with the reactor heating compressed air (for the engines) with heat from fission, instead of heat from burning fuel — while producing synthetic hydrocarbon fuel in chemical reactions between CO2 captured from the air and hydrogen created by the electrolysis of water that is captured from water droplets wasted in clouds of vapour, using excess energy (electricity) from the reactor — you could have a tanker aircraft with a “perpetual” flight endurance and an Automated Aerial Refueling (AAR) capability. 😉

Transworld

Just do a fuel stop, sheese, its not like its a problem

Gerry Stumpe

Believe me Bastiaan, it’s real tough. Takes a lot of training, concentration and coordination to receive “gas” in the sky. Makes you pucker real bad.

Gerry Stumpe

AAR is dangerous. Requires close proximity which is a no-no if you are carrying civilian passengers. Military passengers however assume the risk They have no choice.

michael wesley ocarroll

best website bar none

michael wesley ocarroll

best website ever

Transworld

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.

Peter

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.

Trevor

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

Bob

It’s bad enough flying Qatar J for 17 hours. No way would I fly qf 20hrs in Y

zulu

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”.

High Mile Club

One major problem with airline CEOs is that they’re thinking is a bit impractical.

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.

Peter

Well, one reason might be because Mr. Joyce appears to be a problem-oriented person rather than a solution-oriented person 😉