Debate over the 777X: still studying how far to take improvements

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.

  • Recent customer meetings indicated that the proposed 777-8X isn’t particularly well received. The concept as currently envisioned is actually slightly smaller than the current 777-300ER: 350 passengers vs 365 in three class. Customers are much more favorably inclined toward the 777-9X, envisioned at 407 passengers three class, more than 50 passengers larger than the Airbus A350-1000. The extra capacity goes a long way toward the economics, which according to sources, is targeted for the 9X to be 21% better fuel burn and 15% better operating costs, per seat.
  • As a result of such cool reception toward the 777-8X, according to our source familiar with the thinking, Boeing is pondering covering the low end of the 777 class with the 787-10 and proceeding only with the 777-9X.
  • The 777-9X would go a long way toward killing the already anemic sales of the 747-8I, even though in three classes Boeing advertises this capacity at 465 passengers. Boeing, however, notes that “Our product strategy focuses on a full array of products with seat count capacity in 15-20 percent increments to provide customers maximum flexibility to adjust capacity. The 747-8 is 15-20% larger than the 777X studies and serves those markets requiring more seating capacity.”
  • Plans articulated by Jim Albuagh, former CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, to seek Board approval for Authority to Offer (ATO) the X for sale by the end of this year has slipped to the end of 2013 or even early 2014, our source tells us. EIS is still contemplated for 2019. BCA’s new CEO, Ray Conner issued a note to employees following a Seattle Times story which said the program has slowed that it has not. Further, we are told by Boeing in response to this post that the anticipated timeline to seek Board ATO remains late this year or early next, but not as late as the end of 2013. Nonetheless, we did hear the later timeline from a well-placed source.
  • Boeing still wants to see what the final design of the A350-1000 becomes. With EIS for this delayed to 2017 (if not longer), there is no rush to make immediate decisions for the X.
  • The WSJ article suggests Boeing may elect to stick with metal wings instead of the more expensive and challenging composite solution. We understand that the composite wing remain the favorite but studies retaining the metal wing continue.

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.

60 Comments on “Debate over the 777X: still studying how far to take improvements

  1. Hello Scott

    Do you have clues on the projected design range for the -9X
    I’m stuck with something like 8000 Nm, shy of the 8400 Nm advertised by Airbus for the A350-1000 (and no guaranted yet !)
    Going with the -8X let a hole between 323 PAX and 407 PAX more like a 26% increment

    Anyway, is 21% better fuel burn refering to fuel burn per seat compared to 777-300ER

    Thanks

      • Thanks you
        Seems a little more than initially, and close to the A350-1000. Not surprising in fact, if you can imagine that dropping the -8X pave the way for mixed long haul fleet for majors : 787-8 787-9 A350-900 A350-1000 777-9X
        Any clues on the MTOW ?

  2. If I’m not mistaken, Leeham.net earlier this year had an excellent article regarding how the 2012 Boeing might start turning into the “McDonnell Douglas of yesterday” (somewhere along those lines, not the exact quote). I hope this isn’t one of those examples. Not taking risk and offering “warmed-over” projects which McDonnell Douglas did certainly is not a way to stay competitive. We’ve seen what that led to regarding McDonnell Douglas and civil aviation.

  3. Are there any grandfathering advantages the current 777 can bring forward to a “NG” version?

    • This is one of the things the more fervent commentators on Airliners.net seem to forget – “just” doing a CFRP version of the wing – some of them even suggest CFRP-ing the fuselage or extra-extending the 787 to match 777 capacity – will not only be a HUGE undertaking in design terms, it will also be a HUGE undertaking in certification terms!

      When you make a derivative or update, you can simply redesign some bits – with the necessary calculation, testing and analysis – and get that certified quite easily.

      If the change is significant enough – such as changing whole sections to composite or greatly enlarging wing or fuselage sections – this has a huge domino effect not only in design terms (e.g. major changes to the wing means changes to the fuselage and landing gear – which means further changes in other areas, and so on) but in causing a whole cascade of certification work… Not only would you need to calculate, test and analyse for the redesign; you would also need to have enough calculation, testing, analysis and documentation of it all for a raft of new certification. And if anything comes up short then you’ll need to do another round of calculation, testing, analysis and documenting which will need to be fed back into both the design effort and the certification effort. Furthermore, change something significantly now and you’ll suddenly be certifying to today’s rules instead of rules from thirty years ago – and today’s rules are always tougher than yesterday’s!

      • It seems some have forgotten the B-77W and A-3510 seat the same number in a 2 class (450) and high density single class (550) configurations. Yet the A-350 “XWB” does this on nearly a 1′ narrower cabin. Yes, the B-777 is actually wider than the A-350 “XWB” marketing scam from Airbus. So tell me who is going to have the more comfortale seats in these configuerations? Also some A-350 customers have ordered their planes in a 10 across seating arrangement in Y. It is the airlines that choose the seating configueration, the OEMs just offer different options. KE ordered their A-380s in a configueration not originally offered by Airbus, about 406 total seats. LH ordered their B-747-8s with just 380, or so seats. So, don’t blame Boeing, or Airbus for your comfort or discomfort, blame your airline.

  4. I can see Boeing dropping both the proposed B-777-8X and the -8XL models in favor of a slightly longer (than the currently invisioned) B-787-1000 with seating up to about 335-340 in a 3 class seating arrangement and a range out to 8000 nm. The B-777-9X should be set at around 390-395 seats, to not take possible sales from the B-747-8I. It should have a range out to about 8500 nm and a MTOW around 750,000 lbs to 760,000 lbs. They should also go with composit wings since they have already developed that technology. But, overall, I agree Boeing shoud wait until Airbus defines the poor selling A-350-1000. Airbus may even have to rethink if they are going to offer the A-3510, just as Boeing had to rethink the still born B-787-3.

    • TopBoom, if the A350-1000 is a bad idea why the infighting over a 777

      KC135TopBoom :
      But, overall, I agree Boeing shoud wait until Airbus defines the poor selling A-350-1000. Airbus may even have to rethink if they are going to offer the A-3510, just as Boeing had to rethink the still born B-787-3.

      KC135TopBoom, why a 777X then? Kill the 747?

      Non-sense. If “Boeing should wait until Airbus defines the poor selling A-350-1000 they are too late again.

      777 customers at risk : AF/KL, SQ, UA, AA, EK, China Southern, China Eastern, Turkish, BA, QF.. maybe Leahy is further then Conner hopes.

  5. Doesn’t anyone ask where the 21% reduction in fuel is supposed to come from? The B777-300ER isn’t an “old technology” aircraft. A few percent might be gained by a better wing, and the engine has some potential, too. The B787 achieves 20% against the 1980ies B767, an A380 achieves similar advantage over the 1960/1980ies mix of a B747-400.

    Basically, what Boeing does here is faking numbers: the B777-300ER is a 365-seat aircraft. The -9X now is a 407-seat aircraft, which is quite a jump for a 2.6m fuselage extension. What I think is that Boeing put the economy class at 10-abreast (from 9 previously), and by that arrived at those fantastic figures. For operators already going 10-abreast in the T7, the fuel burn advantage will shrink considerably. As always, Boeing fails to give any indication of trip fuel advantage.

    The comment regarding the B747-8I is sweet. Boeing knows that it is a losing design, and that its own product line does more damage to the B747-8I than the A380.

    • The 777-300ER is now a 386 seat airplane with 10 abreast, and officially. So 777-9X jumps to 407 from 386 only

      On the other hand, Airbus has revised its LOPA for A330 taking partly account of the new practises (2 classes on those birds with generous pitch in J = 60 in)
      http://avia.superforum.fr/t21p400-a330-version-passagers-toute-la-famille#32699
      The A330-200 was 253PAX and now is 246 PAX with 36 J @60in pitch

      Boeing seems stuck with : @60in in First, @39Pitch in Biz…and 7 abreast in J.

    • I think the 777X will struggle to compete with the efficiency of an A350 on a like for like basis, which is why there is apparently little demand for the 8X model. The prize is offering a twin jet carrying more passengers than the A350, particularly if you squeeze in an extra seat per row, as Emirates does. Offering the largest twin jets is a good niche for Boeing but does it justify most of the expense of a brand new model? They need to reconcile market demands with keeping industrial costs down.

  6. There are probably some advantages to sticking with the 65m code E wing. The easy return is in new 99K engines. Shrink the fuselage to 225′ go for a lighter weight update. Save the big money for a new small airplane.

  7. KC135TopBoom :
    … “XWB” marketing scam from Airbus. …

    There is glass all around you. I’d be carefull throwing “scamstones” around !

  8. The A350-1000 and 777-300ER have the same lenght
    The A350-1000 has an OEW of 153t
    The 777-300ER has an OEW of 168t.
    The A350 has a lower frontal area and a more modern wing.

    If Boeing stretches the (350 seat) 300ER by 2.6m that means 18-27 extra economy seats at best (excl. extra lavatory, galley, crew seat etc.), so about 368-377 seats. Unless the airlines reserved some empty meters in their current fleets.

    The GE9X engine will have a 10% lower engine specific fuel consumption (SFC) than the GE90-115B1, GE hopes.

    If Boeing reduces thrust by 15%, something will have to give in. Range, payload, take-off performance, unless the current 777 has a bad wing and is overpowered.

    If Boeing states performance is going to prove all around by 20% or so, the old saying comes in:
    http://www.famousquotesabout.com/quoteImage/99390/Whenever-you-hear-something.jpg

  9. SomeoneInToulouse :This is one of the things the more fervent commentators on Airliners.net seem to forget – “just” doing a CFRP version of the wing – some of them even suggest CFRP-ing the fuselage or extra-extending the 787 to match 777 capacity – will not only be a HUGE undertaking in design terms, it will also be a HUGE undertaking in certification terms!
    When you make a derivative or update, you can simply redesign some bits – with the necessary calculation, testing and analysis – and get that certified quite easily.

    That’s an excellent point in regard to what’s really required when you change something as fundamental as the wing.

    As I’ve been repeatedly pointing out; an all new composite “777- wing” deserves an all new fuselage as well. 🙂

    An all new 77W replacement aircraft from Boeing could have a fuselage with an internal diameter accomodating 10-abreast at A380 levels of comfort in Y; and make it even better with the fuselage configured with a one-a-and-a-half-deck layout. 😉

    To buy time until such a beast would see the daylight, Boeing could IMO put Trent-XWB-97 engines on the out-of-production 777-300. That alone should increase the range by about 900 nm. Then; increase MTOW by about 10 tonnes, and the upgraded 777-300 should have a range in excess of 7600 nm. Additionally, Boeing should go ahead with redesigning the contour of the fuselage frames around the window belt in order to allow for a 4-inch increase in cabin width, which would lead to a 10-abreast configuration allowing for seat widths at 17.2 inches; arm rests at 2 inches; and 2 aisles having a width of 18 inches each. In order to compete with the more capable A350-1000 which will have a better payload/range capability, Boeing could offer more seats cheaper to airlines not requiring the payload/range capabilities EK is demanding. AFAIK, the largest cost numerator by far on the 777-300ER are the engines. The smaller Trent-XWB-97 engines should be significantly cheaper than the GE90-115Bs, with the former reaping the harvest of the gains in production efficiencies of what could become the most succesful widebody turbofan engine in history — i.e. more than 6000 units could be produced if Airbus would re-engine the A380 and A330 with derated TXWB-engines.

    NB: Yes, the A330 can accomodate the TXWB; for example, the A330 sits higher on the tarmac than the 787 due to the fact that the MLG on the A330 is longer than the MLG on the 787. There might be a problem with the nose gear though. However, Airbus could put a modified all metal A350-derived nose section on the A330…… 😉

    • Yep. I’m aware of that one. 🙂

      http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/flightblogger/2009/10/photo-of-note-fully-painted-a3.html

      However, since the A350 cockpit and Section 11 has already largely been payed for, it would be a much cheaper undertaking to put the A350 section 11 (nose gear, etc.) and a new all-metallic Section 12, and forward lower lobe on the A330, than it would be to develop an all new wing. The idea is to upgrade the A330 with hardware and systems that’s already been developed and payed for. For example, a new wing for the A330 would IMO be put to much better use on a smaller version of the A350, which would be re-using A350 fuselage end empennage sections. Additionally, of course, you would get full crew commonality between the A330 and the A350 if the A330 got an A350 cockpit.

      Roughly speaking, an all new wing is halfway to an all new airliner. An all new 787/A332-sized WB airliner from Airbus should take advantage of what’s been developed for the A350, while in the case of an all new 777-300ER replacement aircraft from Boeing; things are a bit more tricky. Boeing could either take advantage of what’s already been invested in the 787 program and put an A350-sized wing on 787-derived aircraft using 787 fuselage and empennage sections, or they could go all out developing an entirely new aircraft. I’m not sure though if the narrower 787 cross-section would always be competitive with the A350, and as such perhaps an all new wing would be better put to use on a larger diameter fuselage; preferably a one-and-a-half deck configureation having two 747-8I-type staircases, positioned at Doors 1 and 2, from the main deck and to the shorter upper deck; assuming, of course, that the cockpit would be positioned similarily to that of the A380.

  10. KC135TopBoom :
    It seems some have forgotten the B-77W and A-3510 seat the same number in a 2 class (450) and high density single class (550) configurations. Yet the A-350 “XWB” does this on nearly a 1′ narrower cabin. Yes, the B-777 is actually wider than the A-350 “XWB” marketing scam from Airbus. So tell me who is going to have the more comfortale seats in these configuerations? Also some A-350 customers have ordered their planes in a 10 across seating arrangement in Y. It is the airlines that choose the seating configueration, the OEMs just offer different options. KE ordered their A-380s in a configueration not originally offered by Airbus, about 406 total seats. LH ordered their B-747-8s with just 380, or so seats. So, don’t blame Boeing, or Airbus for your comfort or discomfort, blame your airline.

    And all that has what, exactly, to do with a discussion on certification and grandfathering?!?

    • Uwe :
      Pah,
      At a minimum Boeing didn’t know until very recently. “We had a dream last night, ..”

      What do you mean?

      I think they are not in hurry to launch the 777-9 and -8 until the competitive landscape is clear.

      Has the A350-1000XWB configuration been firmed (or frozen)?

      • Vero Venia :

        Uwe :
        Pah,
        At a minimum Boeing didn’t know until very recently. “We had a dream last night, ..”

        What do you mean?
        I think they are not in hurry to launch the 777-9 and -8 until the competitive landscape is clear.
        Has the A350-1000XWB configuration been firmed (or frozen)?

        Yes, for some time now, ask CX. Unless for some reason you don’t want to see, or want to make the market believe everything is unclear (risky!).
        http://www.airbus.com/aircraftfamilies/passengeraircraft/a350xwbfamily/a350-1000/specifications/

        I hope Boeing isn’t going to pull a 737/NSA on this. (stating / believing you still have time to have a good think, while the world moves on).

      • What do you mean?

        That Boeings behaviour is rife with unexpected (seemingly even
        from the insides ) turn abouts and redefinition of timelines.

  11. KC135TopBoom : Yes, the B-777 is actually wider than the A-350 “XWB” marketing scam from Airbus. P>

    I don’t suppose it ever did occur to you that XWB refers to the original concept A350 and is a means of differentiating the “old” A350 with the “new” A350 and that it has nothign to do with the 777?

    If Boeing is certain of the performance of their 777s and are rather confident with what they think the A350XWB-1000 will do, then I believe they can afford to wait before they make their next move. Slight improvements on the 77 to meet or beat such an underachiever should be quite possible to get done by the end of the decade, even if started in 2014 or 2015.

    However, if the A350-1000 does prove to be as good as Airbus advertises and the customers expect, then Boeing could be caught in a bit of a bind and a bit behind.
    I don’t believe that a modified 777, with metal wings would be better than such a high performance aircraft (assuming it will be that) and I do not believe that Boeing will be able to develope and design a completely new 777 replacement by the end of the decade.

    If that were the case, Airbus would have a good head start on them in this class and range of aircraft and customers who are hungry for fuel efficient aircraft have shown to be in no mood to wait.

    Again, I am still not convinced that the -1000 will be such a 777 killer. It appears that neither is Boeing.

    • Exactly. Far from trumpeting how the A350 totally trounces the 777, as KC135 seems to think, I believe Boeing is better off conventionally updating the 777 to bring it close enough to the -1000 to improve sales for a few more years.

      Any big changes to the basic structure will be very expensive in both time and money – so better to save up instead for a 777 replacement a few years later.

      Then it will be Airbus’ turn to update the A350 instead of doing a major redesign… with an A350 replacement coming some years later… and so on.

  12. Both the 777 and 787 seem to settle at 9 abreast economy, 6 abreast business and 4 abreast first at mainline services. Carrying the same containers in their belly’s. The 787 has a better fuselage.

    So if Boeing feels it needs a direct A350 competitor, a new wing for the 787 seems the most future proof way to go.

    Bigger wings and two 5 meters stretches on top of the 787-9 seems the right way to go covering the segment.

    That would imply a “low hanging fruit first” / low investment approach for the 777 (engines, cabin, 787 cockpit) in the coming yrs.

    Feasibility studies and business cases to cover 370-500 seats seems long overdue, probably also an indirect result of the Y2 drama.

    After the A359 flies, don’t assume Airbus will sit on their hands enjoying the view. Can Airbus plug a few meters, a center gear and two 105 klbs Trends on the A350XWB? Yes they can.

    But first pls get the 787-9 right from the start, without surprises. That’s crusial now.

    • However, as I alluded to in my comment on grandfathering, I don’t think super-sizing the 787 is as easy as people assume either.

      Consider, for example, the fact that extending the fuselage beyond the current design limits means re-engineering the CENTRE SECTION as well (to carry the higher loads)… and that would mean not only more design work but changes to the current manufacturing (new mandrills, etc.)… and that could have knock-on effects to other parts, certification etc.

      • Forgot to mention that potential re-engineering of existing barrel sections as I describe above highlights a potential drawback of the barrel method – I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s more expensive and difficult to re-jig a mandrel(*) than reconfigure a panel mould.

        (*) Silly me… in the previous comment I wrote mandrills – don’t know why Boeing would need baboons to change the manufacturing process. Strike-busting the IAM, maybe? 🙂

      • Correct. A new 787-derived aircraft the size of the A350-1000 would require an all new centre-section.

        Interestingly, the A340-500/600 centre section was a relatively easy undertaking where the A343 centre wing box received a three (fuselage) -frame insert. Still, the MLG (four-wheel bogie) and twin-wheel nose units are identical on all A330/340 versions. On the A340-200/300 an additional twin-wheel bogie, retracting rearward is mounted on the fuselage centreline, while on the A340-500/600 the four wheel centre bogie is retracting forward.

        In comparison, a larger A350-1000 competitor from Boeing, based on the 787, would require an all new MLG. Also, I’m not sure if the nose landing gear wheel well on the 787 is large enough to accomodate a significantly taller nose gear.

  13. keesje :

    Vero Venia :

    Uwe :
    Pah,
    At a minimum Boeing didn’t know until very recently. “We had a dream last night, ..”

    What do you mean?
    I think they are not in hurry to launch the 777-9 and -8 until the competitive landscape is clear.
    Has the A350-1000XWB configuration been firmed (or frozen)?

    Yes, for some time now, ask CX. Unless for some reason you don’t want to see, or want to make the market believe everything is unclear (risky!).
    http://www.airbus.com/aircraftfamilies/passengeraircraft/a350xwbfamily/a350-1000/specifications/
    I hope Boeing isn’t going to pull a 737/NSA on this. (stating / believing you still have time to have a good think, while the world moves on).

    So the detailed design is achieved and the schedule is frozen?

    • Boeing doesn’t have to know the A350-1000 details to know whats on the table, they have to know what the market wants. Just like for the 787, 747-8 and MAX. Saying they don’t fully understand The A350 is a marketing trick, suggesting Leahy’s proposal are unreliable. I assume you saw through that.

      • I disagree (Iknow, keesje, your shocked at that). Boeing does know the marketing specs. of the A-3510, they are not secret or hidden by Airbus. What Boeing, and the customers of the 80, or so A-3510s on order is how Airbus is going to achieve those promised specs. All new airplane designs come out heavier and don’t meet initial specs for the first several examples made. I am sure this will also happen to the first few A-359s. Airbus, like Boeing is doing now with the B-787-8, will refine the FAL process as time goes on and they start kicking out more A-359s, then the A-358, and finally the A-3510. Many systems on all 3 models will be near identical, but some may not be, such as a higher production electrical system to power many more individual flight entertanment systemsand the demands an IFE creates. The 6 wheel bogies (like the B-777 and possibly the heavier versions of the B-787) are another system that will be different, unless they decide on a centerline bogie (like the A-340 and MD-11). Stretching an airplane is a lot more complicated than simply adding some more skin, stringers, and longer hydraulic and electrical lines. We aleady know the A-3510 will be heavier than the A-359, and suppose to have more range and higher thrust engines. The wing will be slightly different, covering a wider area, although I believe the wingspan is the same for all A-350 models. It will probibly have more or different lift devices, too. There is a lot Boeing needs to know, so they can do their internal evaluation and then engineer a product to compete head to head with the A-3510. The A-3510 is going to compete head to head with Boeing’s biggest money maker, the B-77W. There is nothing wrong with them wanting to protect their ‘turf’.

  14. The B777-300ER is along range aircraft and as such subject to much customization. The OEW highly depends on the airline chioces. Turkish Airlines was stupid enough to accidently publish its weight and balance charts for its B777-300ER, and the OEWs stand at 169t for those. That is with a seat count of less than 350. So anything like 160t is not realistic.
    The A350’s OEW cannot be predicted with any reliability. The Airbus numbers are not reliable, the additional weight by cabin customization is substantial.

    • If you are referring to my quote in regard to the OEW of 160530 kg on the 777-300, please do note that that is the OEW of the <B<777-300 and not the OEW of the 777-300ER. 🙂

  15. As we may see it now …
    The A351 may be frozen “Commercially”, speaking with the minimum warranty offered to the customers !
    But a lot may be improved, concerning weight savings, and Airbus need to test before the A359, to see if further structural improvements may be implanted, they will have a better picture at the end of 2013 !
    Its the same move Boeing is performing, with the B787 – 8 -9 !
    So, Airbus has not interest to freeze the A351 now, 5 years ahead of the official EIS !

    RR is working hard to churn out an improved Trent XWB, specific for the A351, and may be it will be the basis for a further offer to equip the B777X !

    • The Airbus A350-1000 is the Toulouse, France-based aircraft OEM’s newest and biggest A350 XWB jetliner. Its fuselage is the same diameter as other jets in the family, but it will be 7m/23 ft longer than the near-production-ready A350-900. More powerful but heavier engines will enable the 1000 variant to surpass the 900’s range by 600 km/373 miles and increase its payload by 40 metric tonnes (88,185 lb). However, the aircraft’s empty weight will go up by 2.4 metric tonnes (5,291 lb), and the plane’s cost will be $9 million (USD) more than the 900.

      Airbus is pursuing weight and cost reduction efforts. One program is aimed at automating production and optimizing the weight and performance of the 1000’s carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) fuselage frames.

      The frames are the ring-like ribs that encircle the inside diameter of the fuselage, which, along with the longitudinal stringers, form the aircraft’s skeleton. Eleven additional frames will be required for the 1000’s longer fuselage, five aft of the wing and six forward. Producing identical frames is simple and cheap, but it typically does not allow for each frame to be designed to meet specific mechanical requirements based on its location in the structure. Because of this, many frames are overdesigned and, therefore, add unnecessary weight. To avoid this scenario, Airbus elected to tailor each barrel section of the fuselage (see “A350 XWB Update ….” under “Editor’s Picks,” at right), including its frames, to the loads each will carry. The challenge was to find a way to produce individually tailored CFRP composite frames in a serial-production environment and do so cost-effectively.

      Airbus and parent company European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. (EADS, Amsterdam, The Netherlands) had developed this process for A350-900 frames using prepreg. But for the 1000 there was an opportunity for improvement. “We knew there were areas where we could reduce the weight further,” says Matthew Beaumont, head of operations, Composite Technologies, at EADS Innovation Works (EADS IW, Ottobrunn, Germany). “Thus, instead of waiting for the next platform, perhaps 5 to 10 years away, we saw the opportunity for quick wins in weight savings and manufacturing process robustness within two to three years with the A350-1000.” He presents an image of the A350-900 as the first-generation composite fuselage and the A350-1000 as generation 1.5.

      http://www.compositesworld.com/articles/airbus-a350-update-braf-fpp

  16. If the 777x gets a new CFRP wing, that would be the opportunity to lengthen the main landing gear for higher rotation angles and a stretch to 80m. Sacrafice some range for floor area. Taller landing gear gives room for large fan 150″ diameter 120K engines.

  17. OV-099 :

    . But for the 1000 there was an opportunity for improvement. “We knew there were areas where we could reduce the weight further,” says Matthew Beaumont, head of operations, Composite Technologies, at EADS Innovation Works (EADS IW, Ottobrunn, Germany). “Thus, instead of waiting for the next platform, perhaps 5 to 10 years away, we saw the opportunity for quick wins in weight savings and manufacturing process robustness within two to three years with the A350-1000.” He presents an image of the A350-900 as the first-generation composite fuselage and the A350-1000 as generation 1.5.

    http://www.compositesworld.com/articles/airbus-a350-update-braf-fpp

    Yes OV-099 !
    We just publish this in our site !

    The first lines are not so accurate, but the CFRP comments are very interesting !
    It may hurt Airbus fans, and boost Boeing cheerleaders, but the future weight bonus for the A351, is still unknown, at least for one more year, and clearly, Boeing is waiting for more info too ..;
    So just a little time to wait, for us and for Boeing too !

    And RR do not communicate much, the next iteration of the Trent XWB, if secret-defense , alike the first delivery of the first certified TXWB, for the A350 … tic tac !

    • “The first lines are not so accurate”

      True.

      As for the correct OEW figure for the A350-1000, I’m afraid Boeing might be “waiting for naught” if they kid themselves that the A350-1000 will not be close to spec. As was demonstrated with the A380, the extra weight aquired during development was more than compensated for by better than predicted aerodynamic performance in addition to the engines beating the original TSFC specifications.

  18. I might have already said it, but the funny thing with this 777X back-and-forth is really exactly the same thing that happened with Airbus and the 350v1 then 350v2. Remember: engine upgrade, then wing optimization, and no change on the fuselage front.

    It took about 5 years for Airbus to decide exactly on what to do, beeing a brand new aircraft because they had marketing pressure coming from the dream-becaming-later-nightmare-liner promising “false” hope.

    I doubt it will only take a year for Boeing to decide on the 777X evolution, and I wouldn’t be so sure that it will be this time such a radical new design.
    And depending on the evolutions on the 777X, my guess is that Airbus will also decide on what to do on the 330 front (keep it as it is or make it slightly better yet again) to reposition its products against 787/777X.

    • Hindsight.. if Airbus had proceeded with the 350V1 or -V2, entering service around 2008, they would be rich now.

  19. From the above discussion, I concluded that finally Boeing does not need to hurry with the 777-9 and -8.

  20. The best customer of the B777-300 ER, Emirates, with somewhat 100 B777 in order or exploitation !
    Just think differently … They need improved 777X, for 2017 for the first fleet renewal !
    And Tim Clark throw it in the Boeing face, visiting Seattle !
    Announcing smoothly an intention for 40 A380 more !

    From Reuter’s !

    “Regarding the development of a revamped Boeing Co 777, Clark said that the first of its fleet of 777-300-ER jets are due to be retired in 2017, and Emirates would like to replace them with the updated 777, which promises much greater efficiencies.”

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/27/emirates-boeing-idUSL1E8KRIQD20120927

  21. keesje :
    Both the 777 and 787 seem to settle at 9 abreast economy, 6 abreast business and 4 abreast first at mainline services. Carrying the same containers in their belly’s. The 787 has a better fuselage.

    I think the majority of airlines will go for the 10-abreast in the B777. Reportedly, Boeing aims at an “internal stretch”, getting some 4 inches additional cabin width. I don’t know how they do it (the B777 cabin is 13inch less than the fuselage outer diameter … which is a normal value for an aircraft of that size).
    Indeed, the B777 fuselage diameter is somehow placed in the middle: it is too wide for a 6-abreast business, and too small for a 10-abreast economy (at least one with standards … the current one is below B707 standards).

    The A350XWB offers kind of the “optimum cross section”, but only if passengers demand some minimum level of comfort. And experience shows: whenever the passenger comfort was used as sales argument, sales suffered (see B737 versus A320, B747 versus A380).

  22. I think the A350-1000 will gain a good amount of weight as the fuselage is taken out to 242′.
    Boeing needs to take the 777 where the A330-300 shines, in the shorter range flights. Since Airbus didn’t do a simple stretch of the -1000, that is where there is a void to go after. Boeing should stretch the -200LR to 225′ to 230′. To reduce weight, use 100K engines and lighter componenets. The 777 will still have some product differentiation over the A350 due to its wider cross section.

    • Okay, this is getting ridiculous… the 777 should compete with the A350 *AND* the A330 now?!?

      Are we forgetting what the 787 is for…?

      • I was saying that the A330neo should be able to compete with the 787 in the 7 to 10 hr flights. I’m sure that is over half the market right there. By extension, the 777 should be retooled to compete against the A350 in the 7 to 10 hr flight segment as well.
        If the A350-1000 only ends up being 5000 lbs more than the -900, that would be amazing. Does that include the bigger wing, engines, and landing gear? Even if it is just the fuselage the 777-300 gained 33′ for a cost of 50,000 lbs or about 1500 per foot. The A350-1000 would gain 23′ for 5,000 lbs or about 220′. I guess CFRP is lighter than aluminum by a huge factor.

        • Okay. I thought about it a bit after I replied and realised you might have been talking about something like that – shame we can’t edit comments once posted.

          Regarding CFRP – it’s nowhere near the miracle material some people thought (some still think so, however). The modest jump for the A350 compared to the 777 is more likely due to different conditions for the two stretched – for example; an A350-900 already sized to stretch to the -1000 will be a little overweight while the 777 at the time may have been less than optimal for the -300, requiring more extensive re-engineering work for the extension to succeed.

  23. Sorry – I keep being logged in with different mail addresses on different devices! I will try to stick to this “peach-coloured” address from now on…

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