This past weekend, Boeing officially unveiled the design for their new 777X range of aircraft. The new series has been under development since 2013, and the planes won’t be ready to fly until 2020, but some of the specifications to come out of the launch are getting aviation enthusiasts licking their lips. Earlier in the year the BBC reported that the trend for super-jumbo jets was slowing to a halt but that certainly doesn’t seem to have dampened the spirit of the biggest manufacturers.
One of the critical reasons for the declining interest in bigger planes like the Dreamliner or the A380 is to do with the logistics. Most airports around the world have to be modified to account for the size and wing-span of these behemoths. For a lot of airlines, such as British Airways, this is proving quite difficult to enforce. Airlines definitely want more passengers, but they need something they can use without the additional cost of runway modification.
That’s where the 777x series comes in. The 777-9X has a wingspan of 235ft, which is comparable to the A380 (around 250ft), but has the added benefit of a mechanical hinge that can fold the wing. That means the plane can shorten its wingspan while it’s taxiing for take off. So that means it can carry 400-425 passengers and cause far fewer headaches for aviation officials.
Beyond that, one of the most promising things about the series is the ability to fly super-long haul. The 777-8X will have a range of 8,700 nautical miles (10,000 miles) which will mean it can legitimately fly from London to Sydney direct in about 19 hours. Imagine flying 19 hours in economy. Especially when the configuration is 3-4-3. Still, this is a promising development that will change the way we fly.