Boeing officially launched the 777X derivative at the Dubai air show on the back of 259 orders from four airlines worth almost $100 billion, making it the largest single commercial launch by value in the history of the industry.
Dubai-based Emirates Airlines grabbed the lion’s share of the contracts with firm orders for 150 777X, plus purchase rights on a further 50, while neighboring Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways shared the limelight by ordering an additional 50 and 25 respectively. Together with Lufthansa’s earlier order for 34 777-9X, Boeing says the combined value of the 777X agreements is more than $95 billion. The Emirates order is made up of 115 of the larger capacity -9X versions and 35 -8X, while Etihad will take 17 777-9X versions and eight -8Xs. Etihad’s order also includes options and purchase rights for 12 additional 777X.
Beyond the 777X, Boeing’s 787 orderbook also received a significant boost with Etihad ordering 30 787-10s. Together with the carrier’s previous order for 41 787-9s, the -10 purchase means Etihad will become the largest operator of the 787 with a total of 71 787s on order. The deal includes options and purchase rights for an additional 12 787-10s and marks the 1,000th order for the 787 family since All Nippon Airways launched the program in April 2004. The Etihad selection also means the 787 has reached the 1,000 firm order milestone in just over nine years, faster than any other twin-aisle aircraft. Etihad’s order also includes one additional 777 freighter plus two options.
The 777-9X will be configured to carry more than 400 passengers, and will have a range of more than 8,200 naut. mi. The 777-8X, which with capacity for 350 passengers is sized close to the current 777-300ER, will have a range of more than 9,300 naut. mi. The aircraft will be powered by General Electric’s GE9X which will be rated at around 105,000 lb. thrust, confirms David Joyce, the engine maker’s president and CEO.
“The -9X will have a 16% to 17% delta in fuel burn (compared to the current 777-300ER), and is an aircraft that is redesigned inside and has a new wing,” says Emirates Airlines president Tim Clark. “It is all composite and has great lift over drag. The -8X is about the same size as the 777-300ER but will be able to fly 17 hours to 18 hours non-stop and with the same fuel efficiency as the -9X. It’s a step change in aircraft design and a step change in propulsion but we have to wait seven or eight years for this to come.”
Design of the 777X is under way and Boeing confirms suppliers will be named “in the coming months.” Production will begin in 2017, with first delivery of the 777-9X targeted for 2020, with initial deliveries of the -8X following around 18 months later.
Almost eclipsed by the twin-aisle order avalanche was the news that flydubai has ordered 100 737 MAX, all of them -8s, as well as 11 737-800s. The deal is valued at $11.4 billion at list prices, including purchase rights. It is the largest ever Boeing single-aisle airplane purchase in the Middle East, says the manufacturer. First flight is scheduled in 2016 with deliveries starting in 2017. Flydubai currently operates the 737-800 and so far has taken 33 of the 50 aircraft it ordered in 2008.