With the news of the new 777X about to start flight testing, one has to wonder what exactly is different from the previous versions of the 777 series, particularly the 777-300ER. What makes it so special and why are aviation enthusiasts so excited for the future of the 777 program?
There are actually six existing versions of the 777 (not including any special one-off private versions, or military versions) and two new versions (the 777X series) that are about to start flying. They are:
- First Generation – Boeing 777-200, 777-200 Extended Range (ER), and 777-300
- Second Generation – Boeing 777-200LR (Long Range), 777F (Freight) and 777-300ER
- Third Generation – Boeing 777X-8 and 777X-9
What are the main differences?
To make it very clear how each varient of the 777 family compares to another, we have put together this chart below:
|Type||Length||Span||Passengers (3 class)||Max passengers||Range||List price|
|777-200||63.73 m||60.93 m||305||440||5,240 nmi||US$261.5 M|
|777-200ER||63.73 m||60.93 m||305||440||7,065 nmi||US$306.6M|
|777-200LR||63.73 m||64.80 m||301||440||8,555 nmi||US$346.9M|
|777-300||73.86||60.93 m||368||550||6,030 nmi||US$361.5M|
|777-300ER||73.86||64.80 m||365||550||7,370 nmi||US$375.5M|
|777F||63.73 m||64.80 m||n/a||n/a||4,970 nmi||US$352.3M|
|777X-8||69.8 m||71.8 m||365||unknown||8,690 nmi||US$394.9M|
|777X-9||76.7 m||71.8 m||414||unknown||7,525 nmi||US$425.8M|
*List prices are adjusted for inflation. Keep in mind it is very unlikely that any airline would actually pay the list price.
What is better about the 777X?
Looking at the above chart there are several key differences in the 777X program. The first major difference is passenger capacity. The 777X-8 can carry 365 in three classes, the same as the biggest current 777 jet, the 777-300ER. This means for the next generation Boeing fully intends to not make anything smaller than the maximum available on the market (they would push customers towards the 787 instead). The 777X-9 then goes on to raise the limit to 414 in three classes, making the aircraft a rival to the A380 and 747.
The range has also seen a major improvement. The 777X-8 can carry passengers further than any other version of the 777 ever, and the 777X-9, whilst a shorter distance, hardly remains uncompetitive when compared to older versions at 7 1/2 thousand nautical miles.
This obviously comes at a cost, with both the versions of the 777X costing more than any before them. But, as we mentioned in this article about costs and list prices, these prices are designed to reflect 10 years of inflation and are purposely raised much higher.
What about technology?
However, there is far more to the new 777X than just better range and passenger capacity. The new 777X program builds off the technology developed and proven in the 787, some of which are:
- Latest GE engines. These engines are cutting edge and will allow the plane to fly further on less fuel (and be better for the environment!)
- Lower operational costs. At an approx 14% less cost to run than previous models of the 777, this will mean cheaper airfares for passengers.
- Passenger comfort improvements such as Larger windows, wider cabin, new lighting, new architecture.
- Better pilot technology such as turbulence detectors and better autopilot systems.
Plus one new feature that requires a special mention, the 777X folding wing tip. Because the wingspan is so huge, the actual ends of the wings need to fold upwards to allow the plane to use normal gates. This new wing design actually needed FAA approval as it is technically a new class of airplane.
What do you think of the 777x compared to older versions of the aircraft?