Boeing’s latest aircraft, the 777-9x, is part of the new generation of twin-engine widebody jets and was first announced in 2013 in response to the Airbus A350. The flagship aircraft is marketed as the world’s largest and most efficient twin-engine aircraft, combining features of the Boeing 787 and iconic Boeing 777. It features an array of new technologies, such as folding wingtips, new GE9X engines, and wider cabins. The 777x was slated to be delivered in 2020, but the date has been constantly pushed back and delayed due to multiple setbacks and obstacles throughout the years, such as the 737 MAX incidents and the pandemic.
The future of Boeing’s newest aircraft is facing more uncertainties as it’s first delivery has been pushed back even further to late 2023. This recent delay was caused by updated certification requirements for the 777x and the ongoing pandemic, and is going to cost Boeing a steep $6.5 billion charge on top of the serious impacts of the delay on customers. This new delay pushes the aircraft’s delivery 1 year later than the last delay in 2022, and over 3 years later than the original scheduled delivery in 2020. The 777x is now scheduled to enter service around early 2024, which is 4 years from the initial release.
The lengthy delay in 777x’s delivery brings unfortunate and possibly detrimental news to the aircraft’s success. As a result of the delay, airlines who have ordered the jet are considering switching their orders to another aircraft in replacement, which could seriously damage the aircraft’s future. For example, the Dubai carrier Emirates Airlines is rumored to swap 30-40 orders of their 115 orders to the 787 Dreamliner after already reducing their original 156 orders of the 777x in 2019. This decision could mean huge setbacks to the 777x’s production, since Emirates is the biggest customer for the program. If this decision is officially made, the orders for the 777x from Emirates would be almost half of what the airline originally planned to order.
Emirates has not been the only customer to reduce their orders since the initial launch. The number of confirmed orders for the Boeing 777x has already reduced by over half since the original launch of the aircraft. The aircraft’s confirmed orders have dropped from 309 originally to just 191 orders. These remaining orders are also becoming increasingly uncertain, as airlines are becoming more and more likely to change their order plans with the constantly changing decisions. Customers such as Lufthansa, Etihad, and Cathay Pacific are even considering replacing some of their 777x orders for other aircraft, which could decrease the number of confirmed 777x orders even more.
Overall, with all the continuous delays in the 777x program, the future for Boeing’s flagship may not look too bright. The 777x delivery date will possibly be even further delayed in the near future, and that might cause even more airlines to back out of their orders. Currently, the success of the 777x program is looking slim, but it could still work out eventually if the orders are delivered on time. The difficulties shown in the 777x program may unfortunately signal the end of the production of huge jets. The 777x may be the last of these types of large aircraft.
Cover image credited to CNET