Can The Boeing 777-10 Replace The Airbus A380?

Boeing's unreleased but studied 777-10, part of the 777X series.

Aircraft manufacturers will often study conceptual ideas or further development of an existing upcoming type to join their portfolio, which could include extending a program such as the 777X further.

At Boeing, the American plane maker is preparing to welcome the first variant of their 777X series into the industry, the 777-9, following lengthy delays to the certification programme.

The Quad Engine Problem

For customers of the 777X, the new long-haul widebody has often been provided as a solution to the quad-engine jet problem.

This problem consists of two primary aircraft families: the A380 from European plane maker Airbus and the 747 from American plane maker Boeing.

These two planes have both, in their ways, been critical to so many customers’ long-haul offerings with an enhanced capacity level, meaning operations into slot-restricted airports have been made easier.

However, these types are becoming increasingly inefficient for most companies. Additionally, the two respective manufacturers have suspended production.

Therefore, operators of the planes are seeing their units age with no dedicated replacement.

Introducing The Boeing 777-10

The 777-10 proposition has been broadly discussed for Boeing in the past decade. However, it remains a variant that has yet to receive an official release or announcement.

If proceeded with, the 777-10 per analysts would further extend the current 777X variants and essentially be the perfect answer to the 747 and A380.

Slotting into the 400 to 500 seat market, a sector nowadays that lacks as companies move away from high-capacity airliners and towards more efficient twin-engined types such as the 787 and A350.

In the mid-2010s, a variant exceeding the -9s capabilities was mentioned by analysts. It’s a move that had Boeing gone ahead with, that would’ve seen three variants offered to customers in the series.

What The 777-10 Would Offer Customers.

A 777-10 was never formally announced, and therefore, details on its capabilities were far and few between, with typically analysts predicting.

From what can be gathered, the -10 would continue with a theme set out in the 737 MAX, 787, A320neo, A330neo and A350 series’. With each larger edition to the programme, the latter part of the aircraft name increases in these respective series.

The Boeing 777-10 would have increased capacity over previous iterations. Between the -8 and -10, there’d be close to a 100-capacity difference. Exact specifics will always change depending on airlines’ preferences when configuring planes.

For a proposed 777-10, the range was an area that lacked clarity. However, the plane would likely harbour less range than the 777-9 to make way for the capacity increase offered.

According to Boeing’s specifications, the 777-9 can fly 7,600 nautical miles or 14,075 kilometres. Meanwhile, the 777-8 can up to 8,745 nautical miles or 16,190 kilometres. Therefore, the 777X can be labelled as a more than adequate aircraft for covering many long-haul needs for companies.

Understanding The Possible Place For The 777-10

While some argue that a 777-10 would help replace the A380 for customers, others would point out that the A380 ended for several reasons. These reasons might deter customers from committing to a plane, such as the size of the 777-10.

With such a high capacity, the available customers that can fill the jet routinely on select routes are limited. However, with Emirates’ calls for an A380neo due to slot restrictions becoming an increasingly bigger focus, some believed it would be a worthwhile study for Boeing.

As per Flight Global in 2016, Boeing confirmed the technical feasibility of a 777-10. While now closing in on a decade ago and only a handful of years after the program was launched, it’s an essential factor to understand.

Focus Lies On Existing Variants And Certification

In late 2022, Boeing launched its 777-8F, a next-generation freighter slated to compete with Airbus’ A350F in a lucrative market.

Therefore, the 777X program now offers three variants to prospective customers. The 777-8F for freight capabilities, the 777-8 and the 777-9 for passenger operations.

However, while progressing, certification for the 777X is yet to be completed. Current forecasts estimate an EIS of 2025, five years later than initially predicted.

This substantial delay to the entry into service for Boeing’s newest endeavour has been paired with several other persistent issues at the plane maker over the past decade.

Notably, the emergence of quality assurance difficulties on its other widebody, the 787 and a crisis involving the 737 MAX led to a multi-year grounding.

Thanks to these reasons, Boeing’s internal focus has been skewed significantly. Its focus remains on certifying the current variants of the 777X and getting these to customers safely and as soon as possible.

Additionally, the plane maker is advancing on other vital technologies and development studies that’ll shape the future of its commercial aircraft programs. Ultimately that doesn’t include the 777-10 for now.

Daniel Fowkes
19 Nov 2023
· Aircraft 

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