The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

777X...Mini Jumbo war in the horizon as Boeing and Airbus go head to head with new airplane.

As those who read my blog on a regular basis know that I work in the aviation business.   So anything that is coming down the pike as far as innovation and changes has my interest.   I pulled this off Reuters and Bing for more background.   I have worked on the Boeing 777 and it is a big airplane, you don't realize how big they are until you are next to them.

By Alwyn Scott and Tim Hepher
SEATTLE/PARIS (Reuters) - Boeing has started offering its long-awaited 777X long-range jet, paving the way for a 'mini-jumbo' war with European rival Airbus, industry sources said on Wednesday.
The move backed by Boeing's board means that the commercial aircraft division can begin taking orders for a revamped version of its top-selling wide-bodied jet, the 777, which could include folding wingtips and new engines from General Electric .
Boeing declined to discuss the outcome of Monday's board meeting but said it was pushing ahead with the project to update the twin-engined jet, in service since the 1990s.
"We are taking the next step when it comes to engaging customers on the 777X," spokesman Doug Alder said. The company has "begun to discuss additional technical, pricing and schedule details with customers", he added.
Reuters reported on April 24 that Boeing was ready to go ahead with the project "within weeks", after one of its key customers, British Airways , placed a $6 billion order for A350-1000 jets from rival Airbus .
Until now, Boeing has enjoyed a virtual monopoly in the lucrative market for large twin-engined jets, boosting its margins, but Airbus has started challenging that position with its 350-seat A350-1000, due to enter service in 2017.
Boeing's response is a substantial overhaul in the design of the 777, expected to enter service around 2020.
People familiar with the matter said the Boeing board had approved the so-called "authority to offer", allowing sales to proceed. The people declined to be identified because they are not authorized to discuss actions of the board.
After attracting enough orders, Boeing would go back to the board for permission to start developing and building the jet.
If launched, the program would bring billions of dollars of business to suppliers of aircraft parts. In March, Boeing chose General Electric to develop the engines, renewing their exclusive partnership on the most recent 777s.
The 777X is a planned successor to the industry's most popular large twin-engined aircraft seating more than 300 passengers. The original 777 was introduced in 1995 and is the last new plane Boeing developed before the 787. Its most popular version is the more recent 777-300ER.
The 777X would compete from around the turn of the decade with the Airbus A350-1000 to carve up a potential market of at least 2,000 aircraft worth about $500 billion over 20 years.
The cost of the 777X development has not been disclosed but after industrial delays followed by a grounding of its 787 Dreamliner, Boeing will hope that upgrading a familiar jet costs significantly less than the $15 billion for an all-new aircraft.
"Boeing has been waiting to see what happened with the A350-1000, and the BA order clearly swung their decision," said Agency Partners analyst Nick Cunningham in London.
"It could be an awesome competitor, given the success of 777-300ER, but I suspect it will end up having most of the cost and risk of a complete new program."
Emirates, which runs the biggest fleet of 777s, is among those clamoring for the cost-saving 777X as early as possible.
Airbus says that its carbon-composite A350 is lighter and cheaper to run than the 777X, which will keep a metallic body. Boeing is expected to argue that an all-new wing and new engine will make the 400-seat 777X cheaper to operate per seat.
Industry sources say that Boeing has been offering the plane informally for months, while fine-tuning the design with focus groups of airlines and lessors. It has also been offering a stretched version of its 787 Dreamliner after a similar but unannounced board decision taken late last year, they added.
Until this week Boeing had held off granting the formal "authority to offer" the 777X as it juggles the looming threat from Airbus with the need to avoid undermining the value of a large order backlog of existing 777s.
Now that the 777X is being offered to customers, the next move could begin within 12 months, making the end-of-decade timetable feasible, analysts said.
Timed to dominate discussion at the June 17-21 Paris air show, Boeing's decision allows the 777X to go head to head with the A350-1000 in contests at big hitters such as Japan Airlines or Gulf carriers led by Dubai-based Emirates.
After losing to Airbus on part of British Airways' fleet renewal plans, industry sources say that Boeing is already in informal talks to persuade the European airline to place a parallel order for the main model, the 777-9X.
The 777-9X would have about 406 seats and a range of more than 8,100 nautical miles, aiming to leapfrog the 350-seat A350-1000, two sources briefed on Boeing's plans said.
It would have a new carbon-composite wing and folding wing tips to increase wing span without needing more parking space, which would incur additional airport fees. Boeing also is thought to be considering a smaller, longer-range 777-8X.
The head of Qatar Airways said on Wednesday that he would be "very interested" in both models.

    Now here is some information on  the 777X that I found compliments of Flight Global

777x - The longest wingspan Boeing has produced
Even as its 1000th 777 rolled off the line on Friday 2 March, Boeing was working on its blueprints for the next generation of its hugely successful twinjet.
The airframer is now advancing towards a probable late-2012 launch of a conceptual 777X family that the company's internal assessments tout as the most efficient commercial aircraft ever developed.
Boeing spent 2010 and 2011 honing its concept for the three-member 777X-family aircraft as a competitive response to the larger Airbus A350-900 and -1000. Boeing envisages the concept's firm configuration being established in 2015, flying in late 2017 or 2018 and entering service by 2019.
"We're working towards being in a position toward the end of this year to talk to our board. That's assuming the business case closes, that's assuming the technical trades are ones that close," says Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Jim Albaugh.
When its hand was forced by American Airlines's narrowbody order in July 2011, Boeing scrambled to revive its 737 re-engining study as a formal programme. Although at the time its basic features were well understood by the airframer, much of the sharpening of the 737 Max's configuration and performance has come after its unveiling, rather than prior to its launch.
While the industry's attention in 2011 was focused on its plans for the single-aisle segment, Boeing was beavering away on the 777's successor. Its concept for the stretched 777-9X, -8X, and a distantly conceived ultra-long-range -8LX, is now at a significantly advanced point, including completion of a first round of wind tunnel testing, say those familiar with the planning.
"We always work with customers on future 777 improvements and what we can do to remain the market leader. We have been working hard on developing options to improve on the 777's popularity and we feel very comfortable with where we are in that process," says Boeing, declining to confirm details of its 777X concept.
Looking to further bolster its dominance in the widebody segment, if Boeing's conceptual jet is made real the airframer will have entirely reshaped its widebody portfolio. It also has the potential to make the 777 the first twin-aisle programme to reach 2,000 deliveries.
Emirates, which today operates more than one in every 10 777s built, calls the concept "an excellent aircraft", says Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the airline's chairman, who was briefed on Boeing's latest designs on 3 March.
The steps Boeing took to get to its first 1,000 deliveries, an incremental approach that updated the 777 from the earliest A-market -200, -300 and long-range -200ER to the re-engined GE90-powered -300ER, -200LR and Freighter are again at play, but a more significant jump on the -8X and -9X appears to be in the offing.
Currently, Boeing conceptualises a three-product family that stretches the fuselage of the 777-200ER and -300ER to establish two new three-class 353- and 407-seat aircraft, becoming the 777-8X and -9X.
The redefinition of its widebody line will place roughly 15% breaks in seat counts from the 242-seat 787-8 all the way to the 467-seat 747-8I, with five 8,000nm (14,800km) aircraft, while its high-capacity 12,400km (6,700nm) 787-10X and ultra-long-range 777-8LX would offer range flexibility between 323 and 353 seats, respectively.
If launched under its current conceptual specifications, say those familiar with the details, the 777-9X would yield a 21% improvement in per-seat fuel burn and a 16% improvement a cash operating cost per-seat over today's 777-300ER.
Such jumps in efficiency are more usually reserved for clean sheet aircraft, and simply put, the long-range twin would be Boeing's most efficient jetliner ever developed, even exceeding the conceptual performance of its 787-9 and -10X.
The 407-passenger, 76.48m (250ft 11in) long 777-9X, a four-frame stretch of the 777-300ER, would likely lead the new family. It would be powered by two General Electric GE9X engines, each providing 99,500lb of thrust, and have a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 344t (759,000lb).
The smaller 353-seat, 69.55m 777-8X, a ten-frame stretch of the 777-200ER, would follow the -9X with a significantly derated 88,000lb GE9X engine and 315t MTOW. It would be a direct competitor to the A350-900 and promises similar cash and fuel economics improvements over its -200ER predecessor as the -9X will over the -300ER.
A possible third family member sharing the 777-8X's fuselage length, would create the 777-8LX, an ultra-long-range shrink of the 777-9X with common MTOW, providing a mission range of 9,480nm, 85nm longer than the 9,395nm offered by the 777-200LR it would replace.
The reduced fuel burn and extended range may, for the first time, open the prospect of profitably operating flights between Sydney and London, without the requirement for a kangaroo stop in Southeast Asia.
Aerodynamically, a reshaped wing-to-body fairing could be available on today's 777 and carried over to the 777X. Additionally, a hybrid laminar flow control system to reduce drag, first developed for the 787-9, is also being studied for the new family, along with 127cm (50in) extensions on the composite horizontal stabiliser.
Under the skin of the new 777X family, which is likely to be advanced aluminum-lithium alloy, Boeing's concept envisages maintaining a 60% systems commonality with today's 777 offering, moving to a 38.3cm flight deck display arrangement similar to that of the 787. The aim, say those familiar with the planning, is to cut the 777/787 to 777X pilot transition time from five to 2.5 days.
In the cabin, Boeing looks to remove 4in from the 777X by carving the sidewall and frame shape, accommodating a more comfortable 10-abreast economy arrangement and nine-abreast premium economy offering.
Yet, those familiar with the planning caution that concepts are meant to evolve, and point out that just a year ago Boeing's New Small Airplane concept was the frontrunner to replace the 737, rather than re-engining.
"Coming off a record orders year for the 777 and an overall backlog extending beyond 2015, we have time to make the right product decisions aligned with technologies and the best timing for our customers," says Boeing.

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