Exclusive: Boeing, GE to send 777-9 to Emirates next year for route proving runs

By Scott Hamilton

Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline. Credit: Travel World News.

June 18, 2023, © Leeham News: Boeing and GE Aerospace agreed to send a 777-9 to Dubai next year for about two months of route proving for its largest 777X customer, Emirates Airline.

LNA confirmed the plan on the sidelines of a Boeing event today in conjunction with the Paris Air Show that officially begins tomorrow.

The airline’s president, Tim Clark, has developed a deep skepticism over the pace of the program, which has been hit by repeated delays for a variety of technical and regulatory reasons. The program was launched in 2013, with Lufthansa Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways as launch customers. Emirates was supposed to receive the first airplane as early as December 2019. Now, Boeing forecasts the first delivery in 2025. Clark is said to be concerned that the delivery will slip to 2026.

Emirates has 115 777Xs on order.

Technical issues with the giant GE9X engine early in the flight testing forced a delay while engines were returned to GE for analysis, fixes and repairs. Then certification work on the program got caught up in the certification crisis of the 737 MAX program following two crashes in October 2018 and March 2019. Global regulators grounded the entire MAX fleet for what became 21 months.

Certification crisis envelopes the 777X

During the investigation into the MAX crashes, the certification of the MAX came under Congressional and investigative scrutiny. Conclusions were reached in various probes that Boeing overstepped its development and certification process, in some cases misleading the FAA. The FAA stepped up its oversight of Boeing and recertification of the MAX.

With flight testing of the 777X underway concurrently with the recertification of the MAX, the FAA demanded a complete review of work already done on the 777X, further delaying certification.

Another round of engine issues arose during the continuation of flight testing, also requiring engine removal while the new issues were resolved. Flight testing resumed a few months ago.

Clark’s complaints

Clark, of Emirates, has been increasingly vocal about the delays and technical issues. He canceled orders for 35 777Xs and threatened to cancel more at various times during the delays. Clark’s complaints center on delays, skepticism over the engine’s ability to meet performance specifications in the harsh Middle East environment and total performance of the 777X. He’s gone public with his complaints on many occasions and, publicly, demanded assurance that the engines will be “mature” by entry into service.

The decision to send a 777-9 to the Middle East for two months next summer is intended to assuage his concerns, LNA is told.

Stan Deal, president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, confirmed the planned route proving. He added that Boeing had done the same with the 787 for launch customer All Nippon Airways. The 787 was also subject to years of delays, design, industrial and production issues.

The 777X, officially an experimental airplane, will be crewed by Boeing pilots.

42 Comments on “Exclusive: Boeing, GE to send 777-9 to Emirates next year for route proving runs

  1. I wonder if this mean that aircraft’s development is now essentially fixed, after all the delays.

    • Yeah …
      It maybe time to see the end of the tunnel, don’t you think?…

  2. They will try it out flying at max power during hot and sandy days. GE will swap engines as perforance drop and EGT maginal evaporates, they will learn alot for the final production version. Airbus could copy this “Desert Run” by enforcing similar harsh desert flying before certification and discover eary problems that are now being fixed.

  3. Yeah,..

    It may be time to see the end of the tunnel, don’t you think?…

  4. Why only “next year”?
    Why not this year? Is there some mess that has to be fixed up first? 🤔

    • Because Emirates demanded it to be done in the summer month when dubai weather goes up to 40c the engine will be stressed with very high loads to see how it performs. The aircraft being used to do this testing is WH006 which is currently being reworked and won’t be ready in time for this summer.

      You’re right to highlight the problems because it was meant to happen this summer but Boeing was not ready but things are progressing better. So summer 2024 for that testing

      • “…but Boeing was not ready…”

        Gosh, what could that possibly mean?

        • Nobody is trying to argue with you, I don’t know why you’re getting sarcastic. I’m just telling you what has happened

          • I’m not arguing with you at all.

            I find sarcasm to be fully justified. The most important customer for a new program is public expressing gross doubt — and BA tells him that it will provide him with a route-proving plane A YEAR FROM NOW?

            There are already several (Emirates) 777-9s built and corroding out in the parking lot — why can’t Clark be given one of them to play with? Maybe because BA needs the coming months to iron out some kinks that we don’t (yet) know about?


      • Emirates will be ordering both 350 and 777X. 787 will be cut

      • As if a350-1000s will help replace the capacity gap left by the a380. Lol . Narrower and not suitable for first class, and secondly have a 10 abreast that is even more cramped than the 10 abreast on the 777. Mind you the seat on the 777-9 will be 1″ wider than the almost 17″ 10 abreats seats airbus claims to have. Emirates asked for an a380neo not a sardine can configuration on an a350. Lol

        • The A350-1000 is a very poorly sold by-product. 10-abreast is a last dying attempt by Airbus. They were bragging about having more comfortable products than Boeing until they fell to their knees from Boeing’s spanking 👋👋

          Here are the consequences…

          • Its just doing what Boeing did on 777X, ring frame sculpting to get an extra 4 in of cabin space.
            But the A350 re-design will only allow extra seating for the ultra high density carriers, not for the premium carriers like the ME airliners and those that have orders who will just make more space for the 9 abreast or for premium cabins
            “Airbus engineers have also reclaimed 35 more inches of cabin length.”
            the package of changes is called NPS or new production standard

          • @ DoU

            The “premium carriers” use 10-abreast 777s with 17-inch seats.
            The higher-density A350 simply matches that standard 😉

  5. Airlines applying pressure to the certification process is exactly what led to the Max disaster.
    The CEO needs to back off.

    • The MAX disasters were caused by shoddy design, out-of-control self-cert, and systematic hoodwinking of the FAA…not by eager airlines.

      • “poor quality design” means nothing. Journalists reported that it was due to negligence. Which means that MCAS had been neglected and certified relatively quickly without having measured the consequences of such a discreet change… Today the 737MAX is reliable and safe. Come back in 2023…

        • I fully trusted and still do trust the aircraft. I’ve 2 737 pilots in my family that all flew and still fly the Max’s both before the crashes and now to this day. If they both say that the aircraft is safe and they prefer to fly it over other versions of the 737 family then I’m onboard. Beings that the aircraft types are so scrutinized by the FAA and EASA. They’re even at times will test fly one before they certify them. They physically touch every aircraft.

      • Actually Southwest Airlines being the Max’s launch customer did play a huge part by really pressing, down right threatening Boeing to cover up the severity of the MCAS feature so it’d not cause the delay of the certification process. It would’ve cost Southwest millions to not get these aircraft in the air earning revenue.

        So Southwest, pressing Boeing, Boeing for doing what Southwest demanded, with covering up the systems true severity on flight control characteristics to the FAA. Boeing knowing the FAA would certify the aircraft design because they lacked control of Boeings word for everything by giving Boeing the self regulating powers.

    • Not in (this) reality.
      The disaster was created by offering MAX with ZERO transition cost/effort to customers while having a “painted into corner” technical issue to fix.
      This lead to the stealth broken by design MCAS solution. … But allowed Boeing to initially retain customers and move them to MAX. Short time tide over but:
      In the long run this proved to be a major set back for Boeing.

    • I know I’m late to “this party”, but you’re incredibly right. “I’m looking at you, Southwest…and the role you played at the Max disaster(s)!” LOL

  6. Emirates/Tim Clark know what is BEST for their immediate/long term needs. GO Emirates👍

  7. Bryce,

    …”I suspect he might be ordering more A350s in Paris…a rumor like that would make BA nervous…”

    We will do without your suspicions

    You know what it is.
    Pious wishes don’t work like that.

    The 777-X is a favorite at EK. On the eve of the 777-X’s launch in November 2013. Sir T. Clark said the A350-1000 had no legs.

    Don’t forget that a few months later Emirates had canceled all A350s. But since EK was disappointed by Airbus in 2016 not having launched the A380neo and then the closure of the A380 FAL in 2021.

    EK had no choice but to honor its “Memorandum Of Understanding”.

    So he had to switch to A330nei and A350’s and that’s how he became a proxy customer of the A350 again.

    Your analysis is based on wishful thinking…
    Mine on the true and the truth

    I’m unbeatable on facts, or do me better if you’re telling the truth!…🤙


    ..”After all, with the new cabin layout of the A350-1000, it can now carry about as many passengers as a 777-9″…

    After all the 10-abreast of the A350-1000 will be a cattle truck. EK is not AirAlgerie, or French Bee…
    You or link this detail. The 777-X is a more decent aircraft in term of profitability and passenger comfort…


    …”— but the A350 is certified, is much lighter, has greater range, and has mature engines…”

    — but the 787 familly is certified, is much lighter, has greate range, and has mature GEnX engines…

    Your arguments are flawed, just like Airbus strategy sucks🤙

    • Looks like the North African branch of the BA Back Office will we working overtime during the air show 🙈

      Maximum damage control is called for 😄

  8. Dukeofurl

    …”Its just doing what Boeing did on 777X, ring frame sculpting to get an extra 4 in of cabin space.
    But the A350 re-design will only allow extra seating for the ultra high density carriers, not for the premium carriers like the ME..”

    Absolutely, the densified A350-1000 won’t fly as far as the 9-abreast which is not selling well.

    The A350-1000 is in the midst of a paradox.

    Just like Bryce’s comment, which associates cabin density with greater range.

  9. These route proving runs are nothing new. Been there done that in both super cold (arctic circle & Siberia) and the Middle East environments in the summer months.
    High humidity route proving runs are critical as well.
    Both Airbus and Boring accomplish these with close collaboration with the engine OEM’s and of course the airlines.
    Good for the airline customer and for final certification.
    EASA has full control on the certification since no US customer has ordered the 7X and most likely will not.

    • @Airdoc.

      I can see both United and American (especially United) order the B77X. Its not too much bigger than the B77W. IMO United can definitely fly some routes out of SFO/EWR and possible out of ORD/IAH as well with the B77X.

      AA is a bit more “iffy” however since they have the B77W in the fleet, routes to LHR and South America might be possible.

      That being said, I don’t see either of them ordering it for another 7-10 years at the earliest.

      We’ll see.

  10. To reiterate, this is an Asia/Pacific airliner with an EIS that will coincide with the start of the China Wars thus removing its reason for existing.

    The effect of the China Wars will linger well into the ‘30’s making this already late aircraft truly obsolete. It has no future.

    • Makes me think of Peter Zeihan’s take on China. Population collapse, mass famine ( ah, maybe one hundred million dead, or so, from same), civil war, with a dash of deadpan humor spoken and thrown in. LOL. The 7Xs will arrive then, just in time, to fly “famine relief”! (LOL Hey, don’t look at me. Just watch a YT video or two, after googling “Zeihan and collapse of China by 2030”.)

    • Lots of attempts at Perception Management from the
      BBO.. it’s not workin’.

      “look over there!”

  11. -> Biman Bangladesh Airlines, the state-owned carrier, is set to acquire 10 Airbus A350 aircraft, diverging from its reliance on Boeing aircraft

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