Boeing 777X Vs Boeing 747 – Which Plane Is Best? 1

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

Boeing 747
The 747-8 looks great on paper!

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-9Boeing 747-8
Cockpit crewTwoTwo
Seating, 3-class349 (8F + 49J + 292Y)410 in 3-class
Exit Limit (Total possible passengers in one class)475605
Length251 ft 9 in (76.7 m)250 ft 2 in / 76.3 m
Wingspan235 ft 5 in (71.8 m), 212 ft 9 in (64.8 m) folded224 ft 7 in / 68.4 m
Wing area5,025 sq ft (466.8 m2)554 m2 (5,960 sq ft), sweep 37.5°, 8.45 AR
Tail height64 ft 7 in (19.7 m)63 ft 6 in / 19.4 m
Cabin width19.6 ft (5.96 m)20 ft (6.1 m)
Maximum cargo capacity8,131 cu ft (230.2 m3)6,225 cu ft (176 m3)
Maximum takeoff weight775,000 lb (351,534 kg)987,000 lb / 447,700 kg
Maximum landing weight587,000 lb (266,000 kg)485,300 lb / 220,128 kg
Fuel capacity52,300 US gal / 197,977 L63,034 US gal / 238,610 L
Range7,525 nmi / 13,940 km8,000 nmi (15,000 km)
Engine General Electric GE9X-105B1A4 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

With ANA 747-400D JA8966 at Tokyo Haneda

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!

A Boeing 747-8 under construction. Source: Laird Kay

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.

Delta livery on both the 747 and the 777x

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.

1 Comment

  1. Comparing passenger numbers to fuel efficiency is a moot argument. The 747-8 actually wins out here if you compare weight of payload (passengers, food, cargo and all) to the fuel efficiency (L/100km or mpg). Dividing the mass of the payload by the fuel burn gives a more accurate representation of the plane’s true capability. This is why the 747-8 is loved by freighter carriers. Despite it having 4 engines, it has significantly better fuel efficiency per ton of cargo. If you also consider that the exit limit of a 747-8i is highly deflated (it’s the same as the 747-400, despite the 747-8i being a much larger plane). The actual number of seats a 747 could theoretically carry (if they added extra exit rows) is closer to 700-710 passengers, meaning that fuel efficiency is between 14% and 15% better than what the article reports. The reason the 747-8i fails with airlines is because it’s too big for the majority of desired routes, and because the A380 gives airlines a greater ‘wow’ factor (which among avgeeks is not at all true, but for the general kid/traveller they see the absolute biggest as the best).

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