Why The Boeing 777X Is The Perfect 747 Replacement


EDIT: A slight mistake was made in the below claim of fuel efficiency, it has been corrected from per mile to per hour of flight time. 

As the world holds it’s breath in collective anticipation of the upcoming 777X factory rollout, we are reminded that the world is also saying goodbye to the queen of the skies, the Boeing 747.

The 777 series will soon become Boeing’s largest aircraft and carry the mantle of Boeing’s flagship plane… but does it really hold a candle to the older 747?

British Airways B777
British Airways has 34 B747 aircraft in its fleet at present. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Is the 777x a replacement for the 747?

British Airways recently placed a huge order of 18 777X-9 aircraft to replace their fleet of retiring 747 aircraft.  During the press release, Willie Walsh (The CEO of IAG who owns British Airways) had this to say:

“The new B777X-9 is the world’s most fuel-efficient long-haul aircraft and will bring many benefits to British Airways’ fleet. It’s the ideal replacement for the Boeing 747 and its size and range will be an excellent fit for the airline’s existing network. This aircraft will provide further cost efficiencies and environmental benefits with  fuel cost per seat improvements of 30 per cent compared to the Boeing 747.”

Even Boeing has been quick to point out that even they consider the 777x a replacement for the 747:


“The big airplane 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

But how does it actually rank up to the 747? You can read in this detailed 777 vs 747 article here.

The critical point, however, is the question “is the 777x really a good replacement for the 747?”

The demand for the 777X should add stability to Boeing’s future performance.
Photo courtesy – The Boeing Company/Facebook

The 777X can transport a large number of passengers (349) but not as many as the 747 (410). The 777x can also fly far (7,525 nmi / 13,940 km) but not as far as the 747 (8,000 nmi (15,000 km). In fact, the Boeing 747 seems to trump the 777x in everything apart from fuel efficiency… so why replace it?

The 747 is simply not designed for this modern climate. Apart from just being cheaper to run (by about 1-2 dollars per seat per hour of flight time) the 777X also features modern technologies (such as the largest engines ever placed on a passenger aircraft) and engineering principles for today’s world. Whilst it would be wonderful to keep using the same design (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it), the 747 was initially designed many decades ago and is simply outdated.

The 777X is a modern reimagining of a 747, with the requirements of point to point travel, passengers tasted and corporate belt-tightening.

The Boeing 747 factory. Source: Boeing

What do you think? Is the 777x a good replacement for the 747? Let us know in the comments!