The Two Engine Jumbo Jet: What’s The Latest With The Boeing 777X?

It was initially hoped that the highly-anticipated Boeing 777X was would join fleets as early as next year. However, the twinjet’s manufacturer now expects the first delivery to take place in 2022. While we wait for the widebody’s introduction, let’s take a look at the key updates.

Boeing 777X
It has been an eventual year in commercial aviation, and the Boeing 777X’s entry schedule has been impacted by the conditions. Photo: Getty Images

Powerful backing

In September, it was confirmed that GE Aviation attained FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) certification for its GE9X engine. This piece of equipment will be used on the 777X, and it is the most fuel-efficient jet engine that the firm has ever made.

Here are the key specifications of the engine:

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

After 5,000 hours of testing to achieve certification, John Slattery, president and CEO of GE Aviation, praised the development team’s efforts. According to a statement seen by Simple Flying, he also highlighted the incredible power of the engines.

“It takes the world’s best talent in jet propulsion to create a game-changing product like the GE9X engine,” Slattery said in the statement.

“There is no substitute that can achieve the combination of size, power and fuel efficiency of the GE9X. This engine will deliver unsurpassed value and reliability to our airline customers. I want to congratulate the entire GE9X team and thank Boeing, our partners and suppliers for the collaboration on this incredible achievement.”

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The GE9X engine will be a game changer for the airlines that take on the Boeing 777X aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

Looking at the orders

The airlines that have the 777X on order already had plenty to be thrilled about. Now, with the approval of this engine, there is more reason to be excited.

Here are the airlines that are expecting to receive the type and the number of orders.

  • Emirates: 115
  • Qatar: 60
  • Etihad Airways: 25
  • Cathay Pacific: 21
  • Lufthansa: 20
  • Singapore Airlines: 20
  • All Nippon Airways (ANA): 20
  • British Airways: 18

An unidentified customer also placed an order for 10 jets in June 2015. This factor brings total orders for the Boeing 777X family to 309 units.

Boeing 777X
With several exciting features across the plane, there is a lot to shout about with the production of the Boeing 777X. Photo: Boeing

Changing plans

Despite the anticipation, there have been negotiations regarding the deferral of the plane. The global health crisis has absolutely rocked the aviation industry. Fluctuating passenger demand and restructuring processes have forced airlines to reconsider their fleet plans.

For instance, at the end of October, Cathay Pacific confirmed that the deferral of its 777X aircraft had been finalized. Once it joins, it will be the carrier’s new flagship aircraft and it will feature its new first class suites. However, the plane now won’t arrive at the company’s facilities until at least 2025.

Boeing 777X
There has been a shake up on the aviation industry, forcing airlines to rethink their strategies over the next decade. Photo: Getty Images

Moreover, ANA is reportedly set to defer deliveries of both its 777X and its remaining A380 orders. This move would come following the revelation of the new business model amid the current market conditions. The Japanese carrier was expecting to receive its first unit in March 2021. However, it could be another two years before the company gets its hands on the first of its 20 777-9s.

Along with deferrals, airlines are also reconsidering their options when it comes to cabin configurations. For instance, God Save The Points reports that none of Lufthansa’s 777X units will feature a first class cabin. If this turns out to be the case, it is an example of how much the pandemic is having a long-term impact on the aviation industry across the globe.

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The configuration of the 777X could look different for certain airlines than initially planned. Photo: Getty Images

Positive factors

Altogether, despite the delays, there has been good progress for the 777X in recent months. Boeing’s fourth 777X took to the skies for the first time at the end of September. The 777-9 successfully performed its maiden flight over Washington state.

Moreover, later that month, a 777X took a 10-hour flight across the United States. It departed Arizona and flew across another 16 states before landing back again. Therefore, there is great testing work occurring.

Even though some airlines are looking to defer their orders, others remain committed to their plans. In September, Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker confirmed that his carrier would be taking all 60 of the Boeing 777Xs it has on order. These jets will first join in 2022 and the rest will continue to arrive until 2029.

Altogether, even through there some changes of plans, the 777X will still be an integral member of airline fleets after its entry into service. It’s expected that passenger demand will return to 2019 levels within three to five years. Therefore, following the plane’s arrival in 2022, the conditions should be right for the jet to excel in the skies.

Boeing 777X Test Flight Getty Images
Boeing promotes that the 777-8 will compete directly with the Airbus A350-1000, but it classes the 777-9 to be in its own league. Photo: Getty Images

Looking forward

Regardless of the transitioning in the industry, the plane will undoubtedly deliver high performance for its customers. Boeing emphasizes that the jet will provide 10% lower fuel use and emissions and 10% lower operating costs than its rivals.

The manufacturer also promotes the 777X’s spacious, wide cabin with new custom architecture and innovations from the 787 Dreamliner. Ultimately, it regards it as the plane of the future.

So, the 777X may not be immediately required by airlines. However, its specifications will make it a perfect solution for several carriers from the middle of this decade, and it is expected to remain a powerhouse in the market for many years. There will be plenty of updates over the next few years as Boeing gets ready to deliver the plane in 2022.

What are your thoughts about the Boeing 777X program? Are you looking forward to flying on the aircraft after its introduction? Let us know what you think of the jet in the comment section.