The 777X will have lightweight wings made of a composite plastic rather than aluminum and a more efficient engine. Boeing currently has the lead in the market for wide-body jets used on long-haul routes, and the company believes adding to its most profitable aircraft family will keep them ahead of competitors.
Boeing is facing competition with European aircraft company Airbus over sales to British Airways. British Airways recently made a $6 billion order for 18 of Airbus’s new A350-1000 jets. Boeing believes its still in the running to sell the 777X jet to British Airways. The British airline currently operates a large number of Boeing 747s, which Boeing believes will lead to interest in the 777X. Ray Conner, chief of Boeing’s commercial airplane unit, said of the deal between British Airways and Airbus, “That game’s not over yet. Our intention is to win it.”
Chief Executive Officer Jim McNerney emphasized the company’s confidence in its line of twin-aisle aircraft at an investor conference. McNerney said Airbus doesn’t “have an airframe that can compete with the 777X,” and he doesn’t believe the rival company is in a position to build an aircraft from the ground up.
Boeing faced struggles with the release of its last all new aircraft, the 787, which came out three years behind schedule and was then put on hold for three months so issues with overheating lithium-ion batteries could be fixed. Conner has said that the battery fix for the 787 is 90 percent finished, with work on retrofitting the battery system to be completed next week.
Boeing hopes the 777X will be commercially available by the end of the decade though it hasn’t yet gotten board approval to begin production.
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