Boeing 777X's "Low-Risk" Approach

The Boeing 777X launched at the Dubai Airshow will sport new composite wings and an advanced General Electric GE9X powerplant. But it also stands out for what it doesn't have: a composite fuselage or the lithium-ion batteries that have bedeviled the company's 787 jet.

"We took on too much risk" with the 787, says John C. Wojick, senior vice president for global sales at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "In this case we're going to minimize the risk."

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Boeing's goal was to design the 777X with as much commonality as possible with the current 777-300ER while improving the aircraft's operating efficiency. Dubai-based Emirates Airline, which on Nov. 17 announced a commitment for 150 777Xs, is expecting 16-17% improved fuel burn compared with the -300ER. The new aircraft family includes the 400-seat, 8,200 naut. mi. (15,185 km.) range 777-9X and the 350-seat, 9,300 naut. mi. (17,220 km.) range 777-8X.

Wojick says one driver of Boeing's more cautious approach is that it wanted to be sure the new 777 derivative would be ready to enter service by 2020. He says the company also did not want to tinker too much with an aircraft that already has a 99.5% dispatch reliability. "We evolved the 777 because it was the best in the marketplace."

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