The quest to upgrade the Boeing 777 line, with particular focus on the 777-300ER, is heating up.
The Wall Street Journal has this detailed story. We found it on Google News, so it should be available to all readers but it may turn out to be a subscriber-only story.
Jon Ostrower’s WSJ piece indeed details similar information that we have been told. Flight Global has this story in which Steve Udvar-Hazy, CEO of Air Lease Corp., says Boeing is “gun-shy” about the new program because of the problems with the 787.
There’s more to it than that.
Here’s what we can add from a well-placed source familiar with Boeing’s recent thinking and events.
We need to emphasize that what may be true today may change tomorrow. The point is that the development of the 777X is fluid. With an extended timeline for the A350-1000, Boeing is in no hurry to make an early decision. The factors reported by the Wall Street Journal and FlightGlobal also are important.
Boeing continues to study whether to proceed with a major makeover of the aircraft–the 777X–or a less dramatic 777+ set of enhancements.
“Just like all other airplane development efforts, it’s an iterative process. We let the data from our studies and the input from our customers drive the best airplane design as we continue our work on this airplane that would enter the market later this decade,” Boeing tells us.
“As we’ve said for the last several months, when we are satisfied with the risks, costs and schedule, we intend to present a plan for offering the airplane to customers that would enter the market late this decade. Teams continue to study the many elements of a complex development process, and we continue to work with customers on their requirements. We are committed to this segment of the market and when we are confident in a plan we can deliver to our customers, we would formally launch the program following additional development work.”
Although Tim Clarke, president of Emirates Airlines, has been vocal in pushing Boeing toward the X model with range that will provide unrestricted non-stop service from Dubai to Los Anglese, this capability is needed for only about 5% of the world’s routes. Boeing (and Airbus) have been open in their reticence to build an airplane for only 5% of the market, considering the return on investment not worth the cost, the weight penalties or engine requirements for so few customers. It remains to be seen, however, what the outcome of the process will be.