Boeing is reassuring prospective 777X customers Emirates and Qatar Airways that it has learned lessons from the troubled introduction of the 787, as it looks to incorporate proven systems into its next big-twin airliner family.
“We learn from every programme – things that went well and things that didn’t go well,” says Bob Feldmann, vice president and general manager of the 777X programme. “We know how important reliability at entry into service is to our customers.”
He adds: “With the 777X we are rooted in the foundation of the 777-300ER systems – the basic airplane systems such as hydraulics and power – that are mature and great performers. We are confident we are going to enter service just like the -300ER entered service and get up on its extraordinary dispatch reliability very quickly.”
In an effort to address industrial issues that led to long delays on the 787, Boeing late last year appointed Scott Fancher – Feldmann’s immediate predecessor as 777X general manager – to head up a new Airplane Development organisation within its Commercial Airplanes division.
“It is all about driving dependability and process into how we develop airplanes so that our customers can depend on us to deliver what we said we would deliver, when we said we’d deliver it, at the quality and reliability that we set,” says Feldmann. “Our whole focus is around that.”
Feldmann says there has been “extraordinary interest” from airlines in the proposed 777X family, which comprises the stretched 777-9X and ultra-long-range -8X.
The 777X introduces what Boeing defines as a “fourth generation” composite wing. The first two were developed for the 787-8, and the third for the stretched -9, incorporating “structural improvements, in the way stringers and panels are designed and built, plus techniques to deal with electromagnetic effects”, says Feldmann.
“The 777X wing... is not a new design – it is taking the learnings from the 787-9 wing from a producability, quality and performance point of view.”
The introduction of a mechanism to fold the outer 11ft of each wing at the airport gate is the “biggest change architecturally”, says Feldmann.
“We will have landing gear door [levels of] reliability on our folding wing mechanism,” he says. “We will design this airplane so that the mechanism cannot fail. The only thing that goes across is a wire for wingtip lights.”
Boeing is promoting the 777-9X as 12% more efficient per seat than the Airbus A350-1000, while the -8X has a 6% advantage.
Even for airlines that do not require the 9,400nm range capability of the -8X, “it’s still more efficient than the A350-1000 if you want a 350-seat airplane. It’s also the ability to carry cargo on these routes and not just the passengers.”