Once the go-to jet for airlines around the world, the Boeing 747 days are now numbered. Boeing only has a few orders left for the aircraft, all of which are cargo varieties. Airlines now looking for the next ‘Jumbo Jet’ might find the 777x to suit them nicely.
Boeing themselves has touted the 777x as the new replacement aircraft for the aging 747.
“The big aeroplane of the future for the aviation industry is going to be the Boeing 777-9X, It carries 400 passengers. It flies further than the 747 and the A380 does today.” – Boeing vice president of marketing Randy Tinseth
The Boeing 777x is a twin-engine large-capacity plane, that is fuel efficient, and perfect for high demand routes between two capital cities (Such as London and New York).
It directly competes against the Airbus A350 (See our article on Airbus A350 vs Boeing 777x) and is a worthy replacement for both the 747 and its rival, the A380.
But some airlines are not convinced. Lufthansa has repeatedly chosen the 747 over the 777 variants, claiming that the premium space afforded by the bigger aircraft is more useful.
“No airline in the world sells as many premium seats as Lufthansa, When we talk about an XL aircraft, we need 100 first and business class seats which nobody else has. That’s why we operate the 747-8 on routes where others operate the (Boeing) 777” – Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr
Which is better? Let’s find out.
How we will compare the two planes?
As mentioned in our previous lists, we will be focusing on the commercial and profitability aspect of the jets. Imagine you are starting a new airline, or working for a national flag carrier, and you have to choose between the two options. Hence, whilst some aspects might be cool (Such as an Airbus A350 being far quieter than a Boeing 777x) they do not directly lead into profitability.
Additionally, we will admit that the 777x is brand new and the 747 is rather old. This difference in technology will be greatly apparent in fuel consumption and other factors. Nevertheless, as some real-world airlines prefer the 747, we will compare the latest versions of both.
We will be comparing the Boeing 777x-9 vs The Boeing 747-8. There are currently 273 orders for the former, and 47 in service of the later (and another 47 yet to be delivered up till 2022).
We will compare them on a variety of different factors, listed below. Let’s get to it!
Boeing 777x vs Boeing 747
|Boeing 777x-9||Boeing 747-8|
|Seating, 3-class||349 (8F + 49J + 292Y)||410 in 3-class|
|Exit Limit (Total possible passengers in one class)||475||605|
|Length||251 ft 9 in (76.7 m)||250 ft 2 in / 76.3 m|
|Wingspan||235 ft 5 in (71.8 m), 212 ft 9 in (64.8 m) folded||224 ft 7 in / 68.4 m|
|Wing area||5,025 sq ft (466.8 m2)||554 m2 (5,960 sq ft), sweep 37.5°, 8.45 AR|
|Tail height||64 ft 7 in (19.7 m)||63 ft 6 in / 19.4 m|
|Cabin width||19.6 ft (5.96 m)||20 ft (6.1 m)|
|Maximum cargo capacity||8,131 cu ft (230.2 m3)||6,225 cu ft (176 m3)|
|Maximum takeoff weight||775,000 lb (351,534 kg)||987,000 lb / 447,700 kg|
|Maximum landing weight||587,000 lb (266,000 kg)||485,300 lb / 220,128 kg|
|Fuel capacity||52,300 US gal / 197,977 L||63,034 US gal / 238,610 L|
|Range||7,525 nmi / 13,940 km||8,000 nmi (15,000 km)|
|Engine||General Electric GE9X-105B1A||4 x GEnx-2B67|
|Thrust||105,000 lbf (470 kN)||66,500 lbf (296 kN)|
Passengers: Surprising for a ‘replacement’ plane, the Boeing 777x does not carry as many passengers as the 747, in any configuration. This is despite the two planes having almost the same dimensions length and width. Thus it seems that the extra level on the Boeing 747 comes into its own. Winner: Boeing 747
Cargo Capacity: The 777x leads out ahead, transporting far more cargo than the 747. Winner: Boeing 777x
Fuel Capacity: The 747-8 instead carries more fuel than the 777x and thus leads to its higher range. Winner: Boeing 747
Range: The 747 has an extra range of approx 1000km over the 777x-9. But, its worth mentioning that the smaller 777x-8 has a larger range than the 747. Winner: Boeing 747
What about fuel efficiency?
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. The Boeing 777x-9 has two engines, whilst the Boeing 747-8 has four. Originally designed to fly over the Pacific (As part of regulations back then), the Boeing 747 is stuck with engines that offer half the amount of power than one 777x engine. But does mean that the Boeing 747 uses the same amount of fuel?
Unfortunately, the Boeing 747 is heavier than the 777x, plus it has four engines, not two. Simply put, it’s more expensive. How expensive you ask?
It’s a bit tricky to quantify, as the 777x has not been available yet for public fuel records. But if we base it on previous Beoing aircraft we might be able to get a guesstimation. According to Aviation Fuel Prices:
- Boeing 747 – $13,380 per hour
- 777 – $9366 per hour
- And as a freebie, the comparatively different Airbus A350 – $7359 per hour
According to Ty Joseph, an aviation expert, explains this in a little more detail.
The Boeing 747-8I/F burns ~8.83t per hour or about 10,114 L/hr at 929 km/hr @ 32,000 ft. That’s a fuel cost of about $7,150.00 per hour or approximately $15.31 per seat per hour. Boeing states the total operating cost is closer to $13,450.00 per hour or about $28.80 per seat per hour.
Boeing states that under regular conditions, the 777-200LR should cost around $9,750.00/hour to operate, with the 777-300ER at a cost of $10,250.00/hour to operate. In a two-class configuration, this is around $32.39/hour per seat for the -200LR and $27.12/hour per seat for the -300ER. About 60% of that is the cost fuel of fuel alone.
Naturally, the Boeing 777x incorporates newer technologies, composites, larger engines, and is designed for rising fuel prices.
Winner: Boeing 777x
What about cost?
To bring back the argument we mentioned at the start, imagine that we are an airline and are looking between these two aircraft. How much would it cost us?
The unit costs are as follows:
- Boeing 747-8: $402.9 million USD
- Boeing 777x-9: $425.8 million USD
This is surprising, I personally thought that the 777x would have been cheaper. But it seems that production technologies over the years have allowed the Boeing 747 to be cheaper than the 777x. Winner: Boeing 747
Trivia: the Boeing 747 freight variant is an extra million dollars more. You must be paying for the giant door at the front!
Which is best?
As usual, it depends what you want it for. As the 777x-9 is designed to replace the Boeing 747, it gets a little more interesting.
On one hand, the Boeing 747 can transport more people, fly further and offer more space on board. If you are a luxury carrier, who doesn’t worry about fuel and wants a trusted aircraft, then perhaps the 747 is the way to go.
But on the other hand, if you don’t need to worry about range (Or the range difference is only 1000km, so perhaps not negligible) and you want to save money on fuel, the newer Boeing 777x is the way to go.
Personally (And this is a first giving my own thoughts), I think the savings made by the 777x-9 make it the better plane. As we enter the age of higher fuel prices, the world of four engines guzzling petrol like crazy just doesn’t seem to work.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.
If you liked this article, be sure to check out previous comparisons. Some have been highly controversial and sparked quite the debate from readers.