The Boeing 777X Vs The Boeing 787 – Which Plane Is Best?

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Boeing has a delightful range of different aircraft available for airlines. If a carrier is just starting out, small in size, or needs aircraft for shorter routes, the popular 737 series springs to mind. If a company is looking for long-range and plenty of capacity, perhaps a Boeing 777 is what is required. However, what about the 787 Dreamliner? It is evidently an excellent plane and useful in mid-markets, such as long-haul routes with less demand. Yet is it a better choice for airlines than the upcoming 777X?

Boeing 777X
The Boeing 777X aircraft has been highly-anticipated in the market since its launch back in 2013. Photo: Boeing

How will we be comparing these two aircraft?

Let us imagine we are a new airline that has $1 billion from investors to acquire Boeing aircraft, which plane would we choose? Naturally, we are going to be looking for the aircraft that can give us the most return on our dollars and be the most profitable on our routes. While some of these jets might present a better customer experience, this is highly subjective at this point in time and could be speculative. The 777X is not yet in service and we can only assume. Therefore, this factor should be ignored for this comparison.

Boeing 777X
Several airlines are looking forward to seeing the Boeing 777X join their holdings in the next few years. Photo: Boeing

Which 787 vs. 777X are we looking at?

Both these two aircraft types have different versions, with the smallest 787-8 handing far fewer passengers than biggest 777-9. Naturally, it would not make sense to just pick two and place them head to head. So, we will look at each factor and decide which is more advantageous.

Below is a list of each aircraft and their key specifications in a two-class setting.

787-8

Length: 57 m (186 ft)

Span: 60 m (197 ft)

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MTOW: 227.95 t

Passengers: 248

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Range: 7,305 NM (13,530 km)

Engine: GEnx-1B / Trent 1000

List price: $239 million

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American Boeing 787 Getty
American Airlines has 787-8 and 787-9 variants within its fleet. Photo: Getty Images

787-9

Length: 63 m (206 ft)

Span: 60 m (197 ft)

MTOW: 254 t

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Passengers: 296

Range: 7,530 NM (13,950 km)

Engine: GEnx-1B / Trent 1000

List price: $281.6 million

Air New Zealand Dreamliner 787-9
Air New Zealand holds 14 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

787-10

Length: 68 m (224 ft)

Span: 60 m (197 ft)

MTOW: 254 t

Passengers: 336

Range: 6,345 NM (11,750 km)

Engine: GEnx-1B / Trent 1000

List price: $325.8 million

Singapore Airlines 787-10
Singapore Airlines welcomed the world’s first Boeing 787-10 aircraft at Singapore Changi Airport in March 2018. Photo: Getty Images

777-8

Length: 69.79 m (229 ft)

Span: Extended – 7.75 m (235 ft, 5 in) /  On ground – 64.82 m (212 feet, 8 in)

MTOW: 351.5 t

Passengers: 384

Range: 8,730 NM (16,170 km)

Engine: GE9X

List price: $410.2 million

Getty 777X GE9X
The GE9X engine on the 777X is set to be a game-changer within the industry. Photo: Getty Images

777-9

Length: 76.72 m (251 ft, 9 in)

Span: Extended – 7.75 m (235 ft, 5 in) /  On ground – 64.82 m (212 feet, 8 in)

MTOW: 351.5 t

Passengers: 426

Range: 7,285 NM (13,500 km)

Engine: GE9X

List price: $442.2 million

Boeing 777X test flight getty images
Despite delays, it has been a successful year of testing for the Boeing 777X. Photo: Getty Images

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Passengers

Naturally, the bigger aircraft will carry the largest amount of passengers. However, what is interesting is the difference between the 787-10 and 777-8. Only 48 additional passengers separate these two aircraft, and they are almost the same size (just with bigger wings on the 777X). With a list price of $84.2 million more than the 787, the 777X is hardly a massive improvement for just 48 passengers (that is $1.9 million for each additional passenger paid over the lifetime of the jet).

United Aircraft
United Airlines’ first Boeing 787-10 entered regular service at the beginning of last year. Photo: United Airlines

As all airlines know, a bigger jet is more challenging to fill up than a smaller aircraft. A larger 777-9 might be more costly to operate if not all the seats are sold, or if seasonal demand disappears.

If large capacity is an airline’s goal, then the 777-9 is your best bet. However, if a company is looking for a better deal and doesn’t mind a slight compromise, then the 787-10 is actually more profitable. That is if the carrier is not flying very far…

Singapore 787-10 Getty
It is not a surprise that airlines were holding out for the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner with its promising specifications. Photo: Getty Images

Range

The 787-9 has excellent range, but the 777-8 smokes it by an extra 1,200 NM. This is a massive difference if a carrier is looking at long-haul operations. The fact that an operator would also get an extra just under 100 passengers on board can make or break the profitability of a long route.

That extra 1,200 NM could offer a significant bonus when it comes to long-haul trips across the globe. Airlines focusing on direct services across the continents may have their mouths watering at this additional range.

Nonetheless, the 787 Dreamliner series comes close with their smaller aircraft, especially with the balanced attributes of the 787-9 variant. Sure it’s not as far, but if an airline does not need that extra 1,2000 NM then why pay extra?

Lufthansa B777X
Production for the Boeing 777X has been taking shape, but there is a delay in the plane’s introduction. Photo: Lufthansa

Recent progress

It was initially hoped that the 777X would join airlines as early as next year. However, amid the global health crisis the it is now expected that the first delivery will happen in 2022.

Nonetheless, even though there is a delay to service entry, there has been promising progress in the last few months. For instance, in September, it was confirmed that GE Aviation attained FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) certification for its GE9X engine. This model is the most fuel-efficient jet engine that the company has ever produced. With its placement on the 777X, there are exciting possibilities.

Here are the key specifications of the GE9X engine:

  • Overall pressure ratio: 60:1
  • Thrust: 110,000lbf (490kN)
  • High-pressure compressor ratio: 27:1
  • Front fan diameter: 134 inches (3.4 meters)
  • Fan blades: 16 (carbon fiber composite)
  • Bypass ratio: 10:1

John Slattery, president and CEO of GE Aviation highlighted the incredible power of the GE9X. It undoubtedly is a groundbreaking achievement and the firm is thrilled that the engine will be part of the 777X.

“There is no substitute that can achieve the combination of size, power and fuel efficiency of the GE9X,” he said in a press release seen by Simple Flying.

“This engine will deliver unsurpassed value and reliability to our airline customers.”

Additionally, in fall, a 777X took a 10-hour trip across the United States. It departed Arizona and flew across 16 other states in the country before returning. This rigorous testing is rebuilding the buzz surrounding the aircraft type.

GE9X
Eight GE9X test engines and two test spares were built and transferred to Seattle for Boeing’s four 777X test aircraft. Photo: GE Aviation

What’s the verdict?

If we had to pick an overall winner, we would usually be leaning towards the 787 series. If there is a 787 variant that can perform the job of a 777 (apart from sheer capacity and extreme range) for a cheaper buy price and less expensive running costs, then why spend more?

However, in the last year, there has been significant progress in the 777X program. The recent updates show that the plane could be a revolutionary introduction in the commercial aviation industry.

Boeing, 777X, Testing Program
There are high hopes for the Boeing 777X with its latest technology. Photo: Getty Images

Ultimately, the deciding factors come down to the needs of the individual airlines. Different operators have different requirements. Therefore, those looking to go the extra distance may not even question the decision about which plane to take on if they had to choose between the two types. However, other firms may be content on snapping up the current crop of Boeing’s widebodies.

We have to wait and see

Boeing highlights that the 777X will provide 10% lower fuel use and emissions and 10% lower operating costs than its competition. The company is also excited about the plane’s roomy and wide cabin. It even highlights that it has new custom architecture and innovations from the 787. Therefore, the jet will undoubtedly have significant inspirations from the trusted Dreamliner.

Boeing 777X
The Boeing777X’s wings will be based on the design of those of the 787 Dreamliner. Photo: Getty Images

Altogether, the 777X is set to make a considerable impact in the market when it arrives at airlines’ facilities from 2022. After its introduction, there could be a more distinct winner when it comes to the application of two aircraft types. Nonetheless, both twinjets will be mainstays for widebody operations over the next decade.

Which aircraft do you think is better out of the Boeing 777X and 787 Dreamliner? What are you expecting from the 777X when it is introduced? Let us know what you think of the two aircraft types in the comment section.

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