February 14, 2013
Credit: Credit: ILS
Boeing said Wednesday it plans to bring its next-generation 777X jet into service by the end of the decade, a time frame that had come under question after remarks from the company’s chief executive last year.
At the same time, sources familiar with the design confirmed that the 777X design is expected to have folding wingtips, a novel feature that would allow bigger wings to fit into the same-sized airport parking space as the current 777.
“We have not changed our schedule,” said Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said at a conference in Seattle organized by the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance. “We’re focused on these airplanes coming to the market late in the decade.”
However, Tinseth declined to confirm that the 777X design included folding wings.
The 777x is a mini-jumbo jet modeled after Boeing’s 777, the industry’s most popular wide-body aircraft that can seat more than 300 passengers.
Twin-engine, long-haul aircraft seating around 350 to 400 passengers is seen as the industry’s next big battle with both Boeing and rival Airbus competing for a potential market of several thousand aircraft.
Last November, it appeared that Boeing might be a year or more away from formally offering the new 777 widebody jet.
That view arose after Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney said on a conference call with analysts in October that “we are looking at the end of the decade, beginning of the next decade” for entry into service.
Wednesday’s presentation by Tinseth was “a lot more confident,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst at the Teal Group in Fairfax, Virginia. “This looked like a stronger marketing message,” he added and implies the plane could be offered to customers this year.