Boeing says it is studying some potential “tweaks” to its 777-8X in order to meet Qantas’s ultra-long haul needs. Qantas has laid down the challenge to Airbus and Boeing to have an aircraft capable of operating nonstop from Austrlia’s east coast to London and New York by 2022. The challenge, first announced in August, is called Project Sunrise , which is a nod to the “Double Sunrise” flights Qantas operated between Perth and Sri Lanka using Catalinas in WW2.
It pits the Airbus A350-900ULR (ultra-long range) against the Boeing 777-8X. Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president and chief project engineer for the 777X program Michael Teal said the airframer was working with Qantas to understand its requirements. “The good thing about getting in on it early with Qantas and their request is really to understand their fleet requirements and the market demands,” Teal said during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. “If you look at the exact airplane we have on paper today, which is not at firm configuration, it falls short of all their desires but exceeds many of their desires. What we are doing today is looking at what knobs we can twist. “We are highly motivated to participate with them on Project Sunrise and make sure that the aircraft offering we have will meet their needs.” The 777-8X and larger 777-9X feature new General Electric GE9X-105B1A engines capable of delivering 105,000lb of thrust, new composite wings with folding wingtips to maintain its Code E rating at airports, as well as in-cabin enhancements such as larger overhead stowage and a wider cross section.
While the 777-8X is still in development and yet to reach firm configuration, the Boeing website lists the aircraft as having a range of 8,700nm and a passenger capacity of 350-375 passengers. The aircraft is expected to enter service in 2022. However, the final specifications will only be known after further development of the aircraft design and an analysis of its engine performance. The GE9X engine is due to begin flight tests on General Electric’s flying testbed before the end of the year. Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president and general manager for the 777X program Eric Lindblad said design work on the -8X was underway. Asked if Boeing would have to produce a special longer range variant of the 777-8X rather than just some “tweaks” to meet Qantas’s needs, Lindblad said: “Our preference obviously is to tweak the -8.” “We really feel strongly about both the -8 and the -9 and for us it is really about taking the -8 and doing the things that Michael talked about and just making it a tweak to make that the offering that we need.” Lindblad also expected the 777-8X to have a “greater customer base than what you see in the 777-200LR”. “We’re certain of that,” Lindblad told reporters. “We also expect that the -9 to be our top seller and the -8 will just fit inside of […]