Boeing’s Answer To The Airbus A380, The Unreleased 777-10


Understanding an airline’s demands is always a struggle, and determining from there what is next in regards to building an aircraft is even more challenging; aircraft manufacturers have to assess a host of crucial points before moving forward with an aircraft, whether its a clean sheet, or an additional variant.

For Boeing, the 777-10 is something that has been discussed over the recent decade, but the reality is, today, as we come towards the end of 2022, the 777-10 does not exist, an aircraft that could rival the A380 and be the answer to airlines high capacity needs.

The Boeing 777-9 during testing

The 777-10, if ever released, would be utilised by American aircraft manufacturer Boeing to compete with the A380, if still flying at the time and or be its direct replacement, being able to fill into the 400 to 500 seat market directly, a market that only a handful of carriers are crying out for as they see demand increase, slot restrictions continue and much more.

In the mid-2010s, such a variant was seemingly proposed according to many industry analysts; it’s a move had Boeing gone ahead with it that would’ve seen three total variants on offer that made up the 777X family, with alongside that, it being the aircraft that would’ve well and indeed killed the four-engined superjumbo like your A380s and even 747s at Boeing respectively.

Despite a recent resurgence thanks to a quick recovery from the pandemic, the era of quad-engined aircraft are on the way out.

When it came to an understanding of what the 777-10 would truly offer customers, well, that was a bit far, and few between, given this being an aircraft that had never been formally announced, only specific details were ever revealed, notably with the aircraft being a -10 and continuing the theme from the MAX 10, to the 787-10 and even over at airbus with the -1000 in their A350 series the 777-10 would bring a further capacity increase over the previous variants, for reference, between the -8 and -10 there’d be close to a 100 capacity difference, of course though, as with everything capacities can vary depending on the configuration the said airline acquiring the aircraft implements.

For Boeing, the range was an area where the 777-10 lacked clarity, with it never to the knowledge of many being openly discussed. It would likely be less than the 7600 nautical miles of the 777-9 though, that is for sure, and with range playing such an essential factor in airlines’ decision-making when ordering an aircraft.

While it’s essential to keep all options open as an aircraft manufacturer, the truth is there have been more pressing matters at Boeing since the 777-10 was first mentioned, from the 737 MAX crisis to the 777X program itself, the delays and race to get the flying with customers, that the 777-10 has been put very far on the back burner.

In the past five years, Boeing has dealt with pressing matters, such as the 737 MAX crisis, which has prevented progress on other programs.

The reality is that the 777-10 would also be an adequate replacement for the A380. However, there’s a reason production ended on the A380. No airline wanted it. At the same time, the 777-10 could do the job of the A380 and do it more efficiently, therefore potentially being a more attractive option if no airline truly wants the A380 again, or a plane like it, bar Emirates at this stage, the value behind Boeing moving forward with such an iteration isn’t there.

As per Flight Global in 2016, Boeing confirmed the technical feasibility, which is always important to remember. The global aviation scene, however, is tough to predict. The answer now strictly indicates Boeing made the right call and is focusing on its existing variants.

The newly launched 777-8F could change in a decade when Emirates has largely removed their A380s, demand potentially continues to build, and slots become harder to come by. Larger aircraft do make their return more efficient, of course. But, with sustainability being the focus for so many airlines, too, there’s much to consider. Again, it goes back to what was mentioned at the beginning: a lot can change.

Boeing’s newly announced 777-8 freighter will join the 777X family by the end of this decade.

Boeing has not moved forward with a 777-10 as of December 2022, and it seems unlikely they will. Focus centres on certifying the currently existing variants, which have seen sizeable delays.

Daniel Fowkes
11 Dec 2022
· Analysis 

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