Why The Range Of The Boeing 777-200LR Was Too Long

The Boeing 777-200LR is one of the longest range aircraft in the world at 8,555 nautical miles (15,843 km), even longer than the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 747. But despite being ahead of its time and destined to operate incredible routes, the aircraft never really became successful… because of its long-range focus.

Boeing 777-200LR
The Boeing 777-200LR was not very successful for Boeing. Photo: Getty Images

What was the Boeing 777-200LR?

The Boeing 777-200LR was a further advancement of the Boeing 777-200 aircraft, a step down from the bigger and more popular Boeing 777-300.

Boeing envisioned the aircraft to be configured to carry 301 passengers in three cabins, with 16 in first class, 58 business class and 227 in the economy cabin. The aircraft could fly up to 440 in a single class, dense cabin configuration, to a range of 8,555 nautical miles or 15,843 km thanks to its impressive fuel capacity.

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The aircraft also had the advantage of only two engines compared to its rival and similarly ranged Airbus A340-500. Whilst the latter could operate over remote oceans thanks to ETOPS restrictions, the 777-200LR burned far less fuel.

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On paper, the aircraft was perfectly designed to fly from New York to Singapore and many other long-haul destinations (and perhaps even the Sydney to New York route that Qantas is trying to fly today).

However, despite early sales to a few airlines, only 60 of the type were ever actually built (with one order still unfilled today to Turkmenistan Airlines).

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Emirates
Emirates operates a Boeing 777-200LR between Dubai and Mexico with a stopover in Barcelona. Photo: Emirates

Why was the Boeing 777-200LR unsuccessful?

The Boeing 777-200LR is an amazing aircraft. But in real life, it failed to live up to expectations. Why? The main reason is its very well known design feature: its long range.

The aircraft tackled the problem of long-haul international routes by filling the aircraft with big fuel tanks rather than highly efficient engines and aerodynamics. Big fuel tanks mean that the aircraft is not only heavy to fly but, thanks to rising fuel prices, also rather expensive to operate. Airlines who had the type found that they had trouble starting ultra-long-haul routes due to the amount of fuel required, and relegated the aircraft to smaller, less dense, shorter routes.

As the aircraft was not that cheap to operate on shorter routes than the Airbus A330, or later the Boeing 787, airlines who had not ordered the type were less inclined to purchase it.

qantas-final-project-sunrise-flight
Qantas will be using a modified A350-1000 for its Project Sunrise flights to connect Sydney to London. Photo: Qantas

Then, when the Boeing 787-9 and Airbus A350-1000 were created (both have excellent ranges that are in the ballpark of the Boeing 777-200LR but with a much-reduced fuel burn) Boeing found itself with a white elephant project.

Essentially, airlines that want to operate long-haul routes might as well order an aircraft that can also efficiently fill medium routes as well, focusing on less fuel burn per seat over bigger fuel tanks.

What do you think? Do you like the Boeing 777-200LR? Let us know in the comments.

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Naum Fernando

I just flew on Delta’s 777-200LR from Atlanta to Johannesburg and I really enjoyed that plane.I personal prefer 777-200LR than 777-200ER…

Jethro

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Anonymous

It’s got to be one of the better looking birds around, those two GE90’s coupled with the shorter fuselage make the -200LR one of my personal favourite aircraft still remember spotting the EK LR’s from the AKL viewing platforms. A splendid aircraft hindered by unfavourable economics.

Barend de Klerk

Naum

Yes and that is still one of the 5 longest routes flown in the world. The 200LR is a amazing machine that can do what not any other aircraft can do even by today’s standard.

Nate Dogg

What can it do that the A350 still can’t do??

Trent

….be around in 2006 is what it could do.

Henning

The ordinary A350-1000 with more pax has a longer range than the 777-200lr

Phil Blinkhorn

The A350-1041 does the same more efficiently. Currently it flies Singapore to Newark and back, non stop, across the Pacific in summer and as a round the world flight in winter.

Justin Jordan

That is actually not correct. The Airbus A350-900ULR is a specifically built chassis for Singapore, it is not the A350-1000. Singapore has also modified the seating capacity to help deal with MTOW and other Weight Restrictions. Only SQ has ordered the ULR, no other airlines have taken this order. While the 777-200LR was a fuel burner, It also has more Cargo Capacity and if the density was made to mimic the ULR would be easily over 10k range.

SUJAN KUMAR GHOSH

The R&D deliberately followed a greedy and foolish specification.

Tint

I like Boeing. But set is not comfortable.walking space is narrow. They should be changed set size.

Ertimus Waffle

Love the 200LR

Tim Mann

Eight to ten hours is my limit….need a stop to shave, shower, sh**, and sleep….the journey is completed in the following day…..no need of a Odyssey.

Misket

Try going between Oceania and anywhere other than Asia in under 10 hours.

Abel

Replacing the engine with the one like that of B 787 could be a solution .

Michael

You mean like the 777X Boeing is building?

Mark Brown

Perhaps a possible outcome would be offering a replacement upgrade efficiency engines with the same or greater thrust.

Very large fuel capacity with upgraded engines through a buyback program create a true record holder in speed, efficiency and distance possibilities.

Phil Blinkhorn

Ever heard of the B777X

Ivan

No, it’s the high fuel consumption.

Abdulaziz alkarimi

I like it

Muhammad Ahmad

i love this plane but unfortunately the airlines couldn’t properly get advantage of it, PIA was the first airline to get B777-200LR.

Phil Blinkhorn

The 200LR was hardly a white elephant left on Boeing’s hands. They just built what the airlines ordered and then stopped building it when the orders ceased. It wasn’t as if they built examples of the type speculatively and the major components were the same as the 200 ER. The 200 Freighter has the same airframe, engines and fuel capacity as the 200LR.

Aizad Sayid

The aircraft industry was glued to the hub and spoke model for decades. The 777-200LR was the first aircraft that could operate from point to point over almost any two cities in the world. A feature that led to it’s failure was it’s large seating capacity. When the aircraft was initially launched, it was not easy for airline marketing departments to operate very large aircraft on new routes on regular basis at 70%+ capacity. In the next ten years, ultra long haul flights will dominate international skies!

Aizad Sayid

The airline industry was glued to the hub and spoke transportation model for decades. The 777-200LR was the first aircraft that could operate from point to point over almost any two cities in the world. A feature that led to it’s failure was it’s large seating capacity. When the aircraft was initially launched, it was not easy for airline marketing departments to operate very large aircraft on new routes on regular basis at 70%+ capacity. In the next ten years, ultra long haul flights will dominate international skies!

Fari

I think that time it did not go well for boeing 777-200Rl because airline where concertrating on passangers capacity and loads but now the time has come where the world wants everyone to be responsible in traveling burning less fuel and efficient flying so i will see the B777-200LR being sold like hot buns

Pfafftonian

Not, “Airlines who had the type … REGULATED the aircraft to smaller ….”, but, “Airlines who had the type … RELEGATED the aircraft to smaller ….”.

Joanna Bailey

Thank you, this has been corrected.

Richard

I love this aircraft. Its a thing of beauty.

Indranil Sarkar

Absolutely. No point as it is a commercially unviable project when cheaper alternatives are available. But Boeing may look into military applications for this plane like P8 the anti submarine reconnaissance aircraft. I believe it can remain in air for 20 hours or more without refueling and that is a great advantage militarily.

John

Having compared Boeing and Airbus aircraft, I have found that Airbus are generally noticeably quieter that the Boeing range, including the excellent but noisy dreamliner. I have since bought some Bose noise cancelling phones, so perhaps i won’t be so bothered by noise in the future. My favourite aircraft, and quietist A380.

Akeen karkare

I just ran across this when I was searching the web. I think I picked a good 777-200LR flight from Mumbai to New York on Delta air lines DL25. I personally think I love this airline.

Douglas

That aircraft is a beast,I once boarded it from Ethiopia to China and it was amazing

jahangir alam

yes i was traveled first time in 1999 by cathy pacific air ways duba to HK it was very very fantastic traveling time with 777-200

jahangir alam

yes i was traveled first time in 1999 by cathy pacific air ways duba to HK it was very very fantastic traveling time with 777-200LR

Eric

Loved the plane. Once in Emirates. Much better than 777-300 and 300ER which they made too congested. Hoping to fly once more before being retired.

Ross Hurst

Air Canada flies 6 of the 200LRs on long routes like YYZ-HKG and YVR-SYD. I love the plane, feels more comfortable than the 787

Thomas Pavluvcik

Add one more reason – long flights are not people-friendly, especially to the elderly, who may suffer physical problems.

Paul Michalski

The 200LR was the basis for the 777 Freighter, so it was not just a passenger plane. If you count the number of 777F’s built (180 with 52 on order), you see that this was not a white elephant program. Obviously its future is as a freighter, not passenger aircraft.