777-8X/9X: Here we go

Aspire Aviation has revealed that Boeing has issued an RFP to GE and Rolls-Royce (with speculation that Pratt & Whitney got included) for a next generation engine for the 777-8X/9X development.  The target appears to be about 100,000lbs of thrust (and I’m sure Boeing would like to hear about a growth path to that as well.)

With the combination of new technologies for the fuselage, composite wings that are likely a bit larger and a lower fuel consumption, these new aircraft would definitely be A350 beaters in every category.  The current 777 lineup performs well against the performance definitions for the A350-900 and based on comments from A350-1000 customers, the 777-300ER probably isn’t equaled on long haul routes. 

A revised 777 that upgrades the -200LR with more seats and as much range, capacity and cargo capacity would clearly be of interest to many airlines.  A -300ER that also increases its capacity with equal or better range would also be of great interest to many.  Boeing has rightly identified that its the -300ER that is likely the sweet spot in size (or a little larger) for most airlines requiring a high capacity/long range airliners for routes.

The A380 will be around for a long time.  It won’t be a big seller over the next decade and will only ever be a success if there is enough growth on long haul trunk routes to require that aircraft.  The 747-8i remains an interim solution from Boeing and it still hasn’t garnered much interest from airines.  In fact, many airlines have downsized from the 747-400 in favor of the 777-300ER.

Trunk routes will remain but there will be fewer of real importance and requiring a VLA.  The 787, A350 and 777 all permit airlines to fly more point to point routes and earn profits.  Ultra long haul flights are likely to remain more in the style of “long and thin” than “long and fat”.  After all, just how many people are likely to fly from Houston to Auckland, New Zealand even with network feed?  Answer:  Not enough to require a 777 or 747 for quite some time.

I do think Boeing has the right idea in offering a revised 777 instead of an all new design in this category.  The 777 still incorporates some fairly cutting edge technology and with a revised composite wing alone could probably continue as a category winner.

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