Boeing formally launched its 777X in Dubai Sunday with a whopping order led by the “Gulf 3″ — Emirates, Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways — as well as Germany’s Lufthansa.
There’s been much commentary about the tug-of-war among potential customers over features and capabilities as Boeing designs the replacement for its best-selling widebody, the 777.
It would be hard to ignore the wishes of Emirates, now the world’s biggest airline, which in Dubai just placed what CNN calls “eye-popping, jaw-dropping deals” for 150 Boeing 777X airliners and 50 Airbus A380s.
The dilemma is that “Emirates wants it all — hot-weather performance, ultimate range going halfway around the world and the highest payloads… For anyone else who buys a plane who isn’t going to need all those performance characteristics, it’s like buying a Ferrari to drive it to the supermarket,” said Robert Mann, an aviation consultant at R.W. Mann & Co.
Industry guru Steve Udvar-Hazy, the master aircraft lessor and currently chairman of Air Lease Corp., cautions in Aviation Week that Boeing has to be “careful” not to give in to too many of the performance and range requirements put forward by the three Persian Gulf carriers.
Boeing Sunday described the 777-9X as seating more than 400 passengers, depending on an airline’s configuration, and having a range of more than 8,200 nautical miles. The 777-8X will seat 350, says Boeing, which promises “an incredible range capability of more than 9,300 nautical miles.”
Hazy tells Aviation Week that “80-85%” of the 777X’s future customers in Europe and Asia are likely to opt for the larger variant and not need the kind of range the -8X will offer.