New Boeing 777X Is Biggest, Cheapest Jet Ever

Boeing’s expected 2020 launch of its 777X superjumbo jet is putting other jet manufacturers on red alert: Grow to meet the 777X’s impressive specs or fall behind the times and fail.

The Boeing 777X was unveiled in November at the Dubai Airshow and immediately landed four airline customers. The company just officially put the new plane on sale this month and plans to start production in 2017, with an expected launch of 2020.

What’s the big deal? “The 777X will be the largest and most-efficient twin-engine jet in the world,” according to promotional materials, “with 12 percent lower fuel consumption and 10 percent lower operating costs than the competition.” Oh.

The twin-aisle superjumbo will be available in two models: a 777-8X capable of transporting 350 passengers for 9,300 nautical miles without refueling in a cabin with larger windows and more luxurious surroundings; and a 777-9X able to transport 400 passengers for 8,200 nautical miles without refueling.

The new superjumbo has its competition crying foul. The European Airbus Group just announced that it would be growing its A380 superjumbo jet to compete with the 777X.

“We will face after 2020 the challenge of the Boeing 777X,” Airbus Group CEO Fabrice Bregier told the Associated Press. “It is clear that as the challenges evolve, the A380 will have to evolve as well.”

Then Bregier lamented how $8.7 billion in tax subsidies from the U.S. government gave Boeing an unfair market advantage.

“Europe is the only part of world that doesn’t look at its currency from the point of view of support to its export industry,” he said. After Boeing alleged that Airbus suppliers had access to much of the aid that Boeing had recently received, Bregier said, “This is bulls**t,” adding that the company was able to capitalize on just a fraction of the incentives.

He hopes the recent pressures with the 777X will pressure the European Union to lower its average exchange rate from about $1.35 for European exporters to something more along the lines of $1.25.

Whatever happens, Airbus will have some catching up to do. The second-largest jet leasing company in the world, Netherlands-based AerCap Holdings, just announced that it would be buying into Boeing’s 777X, without even exploring the option of Airbus’s proposal to remake its A380 or A333 jets to make them bigger and more fuel-efficient.

Still, AerCap CEO Aengus Kelly told the Wall Street Journal that the company won’t commit to the 777X or any other new superjumbo until its demands for optimum cost-efficiency are met: “We’re certainly not here to inflate the order books of the [jet manufacturers].”

Tell that to Airbus.

[Image courtesy of Boeing]