LONDON – British Airways has confirmed that they will replace its fleet of Boeing 747s by the new Boeing 777X. According to Boeing, British Airways will purchase 18 aircaft of the 777-9 model with an option for 24 more. The deal could reach $ 18.6 billion, although this is a purchase commitment and not yet on Boeing’s official order and delivery numbers, until it’s finalized.
“The new 777-9 is the world’s most fuel efficient longhaul aircraft and will bring many benefits to British Airways’ fleet. It is the ideal replacement for the 747 and will be an excellent fit for the airline’s existing network,” said Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive. “This aircraft will provide further cost efficiencies and environmental benefits with fuel cost per seat improvements of 30%, compared to the 747. It also provides an enhanced passenger experience.”
At this moment, British Airways has 34 Boeing 747-400 in its fleet. They plan to keep flying with the ‘Queen of the skies’ for several years, while other airlines already begun the 747’s retirement from service.
Since the 747 had its first flight 50 years ago, the Queen is still widely used in the world, but its operating costs are high and has made it unfeasible for many routes. Major airlines like Lufthansa and KLM are still flying with the 747, but like British Airways they will retire the 747 early in the next decade. Worldwide the 747 will slowly turn from a passenger aircraft into a cargo aircraft.
The 777X has proved to be a masterpiece by Boeing. Although based on the original widebody, introduced in the 1990s, the new large-capacity twin engine (400-425 passengers in a two-class cabin) had its design revised to incorporate technological advances seen today in the 787.
The 777X also has more efficient wings, more economical engines, advanced avionics and a redesigned cabin that is even wider than the first generation 777. In addition, the 777X will have an innovation, the folding wingtips, a feature that will be used to reduce the wingspan of the jet in the ground in order to avoid adaptations at the airports in which to operate.
The fuel efficient two-engined 777X, but also the 787 and even the Airbus A350, has resulted in the end of the Airbus A380 program. Both the B747 and A380 have no future in commercial aviation, mainly because of the four engines in relation to fuel efficiency and maintenance costs.
Including British Airways’ request, the Boeing 777X already has 358 orders and commitments from eight customers. The debut of the new airplane will take place in March and the first flight, still in 2019. The first deliveries are scheduled for 2020, according to Boeing.
(Head photo: Boeing)