Boeing Close to Approving 777X
Boeing’s board of directors may approve an updated version of the company’s 777 passenger jet as early as next month. The 777 is a long-range, widebody, twin-engine jet airliner. Prior to seeking board approval, Boeing needs to make one crucial decision: whether to offer the new aircraft with a choice of engines. Currently, the long-range 777-200LR and 777-300ER, which account for almost all 777 sales, are powered by GE engines under a sole-source agreement dating back to 1999.
The new version of the 777 will likely include the 777-8X, roughly the size of the current 777-300ER, and the 777-9X, a larger aircraft that will seat in excess of 400 passengers in standard configurations.
Once the company gains board approval, it can start to take orders for the new plane. Aviation Week first reported the news.
Boeing plans to use new technologies to cut fuel consumption by as much as 20%. These include adding lightweight carbon-composite wings and more fuel-efficient engines.
The 777 holds a key role in the passenger aircraft market, with its current capacity of up to 550 passengers (in the single-class high-density version) although most 777 aircraft are configured for roughly 300 passengers. It is viewed by airlines as a replacement for the older 747s and serves as a bridge between the 767/787 and the 747-8. It burns one-third less fuel and maintenance costs are roughly 40% lower, compared to the 747-100 and -200.
It is less expensive to operate than the new Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental or the Airbus A380. Boeing currently dominates the twin-engine, wide-body market.
Despite the aircraft maker’s problems with the grounded 787 Dreamliner, airlines around the world have been pushing the company to move forward with the new 777. Last week officials from Emirates airline said that the company could be close to announcing the aircraft. In January, American Airlines became the first U.S. airline to fly the 777-300ER.
Boeing has not yet said anything about the type of batteries that will be used on the new 777. The Dreamliner fleet was grounded two months ago due to problems with large lithium-ion batteries that caused fire and smoke in two separate incidents and relatively little progress has been made in discovering the cause of the fires.