As the world holds its breath in collective anticipation of the Boeing 777X’s introduction, we are reminded that the industry 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 company’s flagship plane’s mantle. But does it hold a candle to the older 747?
Last year, British Airways placed a sizable order of 18 777-9 aircraft to replace its fleet of retiring 747 aircraft. Within a press release seen by Simple Flying, former International Airlines Group CEO Willie Walsh said,
“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 it also considers the 777X a replacement for the original jumbo. According to Business Insider, the manufacturer highlighted that the 777-9 carries approximately 400 passengers and flies further than what the 747 does today.
How does the 777 actually rank up to the 747? You can read the comparison in this detailed 777 vs. 747 article here.
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A suitable successor?
Ultimately, the critical point is the question, “is the 777X really a good replacement for the 747?”
The 777-8 can transport 384 passengers. Meanwhile, the 777-9 will carry up to 426 customers. When it comes to range, the 777-8 can reach distances up to 8,730 NM (16,170 km), and the 777-9 can fly up to 7,285 NM (13,500 km). These numbers positively hold a torch to the different variants of the 747 over the decades.
Notably, the 747 is simply not designed for this modern climate. Apart from being cheaper to run (by approximately one or two dollars per seat per hour of flight time), the 777X features modern technologies, such as the largest engines ever placed on a passenger aircraft. Manufacturers are also building the plane with the engineering principles for today’s world.
It would be wonderful to keep using the same design (if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it). However, the 747 was initially designed many decades ago and is becoming increasingly outdated.
The 777X is a modern reimagining of a 747. It meets the requirements of point to point travel, passenger comfort, and corporate belt-tightening.
The initial hope was for the 777X to join fleets as early as 2021. However, amid the pandemic, Boeing now expects the first delivery to happen in 2022. There have also been production issues at the firm this year due to the suspensions brought on by the global health crisis. So, this delay should give enough time for the market to steady somewhat.
Meanwhile, the 747 is being rapidly let go by airlines amid the pandemic. The Queen was already on her way out as carriers opted for modern twin jets instead, but the current circumstances are seeing it sent it into early retirement.
At the moment, the market is going through a transition as it recovers from the present conditions. Altogether, carriers won’t be concerned about the 777X delay as it actually gives them more time to restructure and introduce the plane after consistent passenger activity starts to pick up again. So, with the retirement of the veteran jumbos being catalyzed, a new player will be arriving just at the right time.
Boeing bills the 777X to be the largest and most-efficient twin-engine jet in the world. It is expected to bring airlines 12% lower fuel consumption and 10% lower operating costs than the competition.
While the planemaker promotes that the 777-8 will compete directly with the A350-1000, it classes the 777-9 to be in a league of its own. So, airlines are set to have many of the benefits of the classic 747, but with the much-desired improved efficiency to reach current targets.
Do you think that the Boeing 777X is a suitable replacement for the 747? How do you feel the two widebodies compare with each other? Let us know what your thoughts on the planes are in the comment section.