Sad But Expected: Boeing 777X Deliveries Will Be Delayed Until 2022

Filed Under: Misc.

The first delivery of Boeing’s brand new 777X had already been delayed by a year prior to the current pandemic. Several days ago I wrote about how it looked like that timeline could be pushed back by another year, and that has today been confirmed during Boeing’s second quarter earnings call.

What is the Boeing 777X?

For those of you not familiar, the Boeing 777X is Boeing’s newest version of the 777. It will come in two variants — the 777-8 and 777-9 — and the planes are both longer range and larger than existing 777s (and also larger than 787s, which are also popular).

With there clearly not being a market anymore for planes like the A380 and 747-8 (even pre-pandemic), this will likely be the biggest new aircraft we see manufactured in the next decade.

Boeing 777-9

The Boeing 777X has already been delayed

Entry into service for the Boeing 777X has already been delayed significantly. The plane was supposed to complete its first test flight in mid-2019, but that ended up being pushed back to early 2020.

This delay was due to issues with the GE9X General Electric engines on the plane. These are the largest engines ever on a commercial plane, though they were having durability problems, causing a delay in certification.

That wasn’t the only issue, though — during the 777X certification process, a door also blew off during a stress test.

Rendering of Lufthansa Boeing 777-9

Boeing’s first 777X delivery won’t happen until 2022

Boeing is now targeting the first 777X delivery to occur in 2022. Boeing expects to start 777X production in 2021, though plans to reduce the combined 777/777X production rate to two per month for the year, which is one unit lower than was planned as of last quarter.

Boeing’s plans to delay 777X deliveries seemingly aren’t due to any issues with the plane, but rather due to complete lack of demand from customers.

Presumably aircraft manufacturers and airlines are having a lot of tough conversations right now. Ultimately there’s not much value in ramping up production if airlines won’t willingly take delivery of these planes.

Beyond just lack of demand, it also goes without saying that we could still see further 777X delays for other reasons. The 777X will be the first major new plane certified since the current Boeing 737 MAX fiasco, so I’d expect the plane will get extra scrutiny from regulators.

Emirates has Boeing 777-9s on order

Why we should care as passengers

Understandably airlines have more important priorities than passenger experience right now, though I still feel like it’s necessary to mention one of the often overlooked implications of a further Boeing 777X delay.

Many airlines were going to use the 777X as their new flagship aircraft, and were going to introduce all new cabins on these planes. For example:

Initially we were supposed to see many of these new cabins in 2020, then 2021, and now it will be 2022, or maybe even later.

Lufthansa’s new business class, debuting on the 777-9

Bottom line

Boeing doesn’t expect to deliver its first 777X until 2022 at the earliest. Boeing seemingly realizes that ramping up production of this plane during the current pandemic may be a futile effort.

Prior to this the plan was for 777X deliveries to start in 2021. It’ll be interesting to see how this unfolds, and if we see even further delivery delays.

Are you surprised to see Boeing push back 777X deliveries to 2022?

  1. By the time we actually see these birds, the “new” business class on Lufthansa will be so outdated already.

  2. As the Boeing whistleblower has warned, this new Boeing 777X might be as unsafe and hastily designed as 737 MAX.

    Hence, the longer it takes to the sky commercially, the better.

  3. If the Boeing 777X gets delayed further, a lot of customers will reduce or even cancel their orders entirely. Boeing has been losing a lot of money thanks to the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft which have been grounded for nearly 18 months.

  4. I really hope Boeing spent enough time discussing about the flaws in the 777X and also the 737MAX. The next time one of these planes fall from the sky due to ‘technical issues’, they are screwed.

  5. @MUGBEES what is your source please? If you have an actual source feel free to mention it, otherwise it sounds like you are just spreading random internet rumours – I have heard nothing at all like that.

    @Anton the plane is not being delayed for technical Reasons by Boeing, deliveries are being delayed at the request of customers it sounds like, as Lucky mentioned in his article. No one wants to take delivery of a new ‘flagship’ ultra-long-haul aircraft just now.

  6. Let me see, the 787 which caught fire spontaneously and the 7M8 which crashed.

    I won’t be flying on the new 777X any time until it has been in service and trouble free for at least five years.

    If it’s a Boeing, I’m not going.

  7. Sadly, this shows Boeing’s lack of internal planning and resources. Did Boeing need to produce a new widebody? As the order book shows, they overestimated the need for this plane and did not take up the potential winner that they need, which is the 757 replacement. Airlines want a 757 replacement that can provide the flexibility that the 75x series did and still does and yet, Boeing insisted that the 777x is the most important project. Yes, there is the MAX, but it looks to be also a major problem as the pandemic has killed the demand and Boeing’s poor engineering choices have made sure it is not a 757 replacement. Although Airbus is having some of the same demand problems, the A321XLR could corner a market well before Boeing can even respond.

  8. @Kerry It is completely NOT rumors. It has been reported by the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal a few months back, also the Guardian. It has been widely relayed by other news source. Pay attention to news please!!

    The whistleblower – an engineer at Boeing – has made it clear that 777X has flaws similar to 737MAX.

  9. Isn’t it obvious to a blind man:
    First, Boeing have to add a hinged wing to get enough lift. (this because THEY invented the “envelope” to try to stop a larger aeroplane than their 747. They weren’t ready for British engineering that built the A380 wing with stir-welding procedures to reduce rivet weight and indeed curvature)
    Second, “the 777X has the largest engine of any commercial aircraft” So from this the nacelle is larger, so has the mounting been lifted as in the MAX, and indeed the cause of the design fault. If so……. Anyone know whether MUCAS, or MAUS or UMPAH, whatever the software was, has been installed on it?

  10. There does not seem to be any big surprise here. Many travelers can not fly anywhere and if they can, choose not to. If you have 100 planes parked in the desert, why take delivery of a few more if you can get out of it.

    Our community may care but John Public will never know the difference between a 777 and a 777X or why their itinerary shows equipment as a 77X vs. 779 (or whatever).

  11. Not sad at all that the 777 MAX will be delayed. The actual 777 is great, but with the new MAX there’s no telling how safe it will be…

  12. Boeing cites slow demand as an excuse. It is purely an excuse. The real reason for the delay is that 777X comes with a host of safety and technical issues. It has been hastily designed with regard only to cutting costs at the expense of safety and quality.

  13. Can’t help but feel safer with a delay but that’s only if they use that time for better testing and improvements!

  14. @MUGBEE that article doesn’t support your original assertion. For one, it’s not a whistleblower; Boeing had to turn over it’s emails. For two, it’s related to the simulator, not the plane itself. It’s still a concern of course, just not proof of what you’re saying.

    Care to link to articles from the other sources you referenced (NYT, WSJ, Guardian)? Otherwise it still looks like speculation to say the plane has safety and technical issues. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong, of course, as Boeing doesn’t have a great track record lately, but it’s still speculation at this point.

  15. @ BSOD
    For good and bad they are building a model based to a large extent on the 777. They did not have to spend as much as a totally new model. a 757 replacement might entail huge development costs that would likely never be recouped.

    In real life there are many factors that airlines consider before a purchase, compatibility with common infrastructure is huge. I have confidence that the economics gained by the folding wing will pay off.

  16. BEST on this entire POST . . .

    Lufthansa will be debuting its new business class on the 777X (yes, that business class product that won the company a Skytrax award back in 2017) 🙂 🙂 🙂
    funny, but soooooo TRUE!!!! Love it!
    … just as you wrote Ben . . . . . . “or maybe even later.”

    😉 We’ll see, or NOT!

  17. @Donato
    I think I am fully aware, as will be the majority of the contributors here, that to extend the size of an existing plane makes economic sense, and I am equally aware of the cost of a completely new model. That was not my point.

    How you introduce a 757 replacement into the dialogue is beyond me. This is a single aisle short range aircraft, nothing remotely fitting the airline requirements for any version of the 777, ie 772, 773, ER, etc. or the 777X

    The folding wing is necessary to enable the surface to gain enough lift for the plane to fly. It’s as simple as that.

    Compatibility is of course an issue, as you say, but the 737MAX has proved this not to be the case, and that an enlarged version has different characteristics to its predecessors and indeed needs separate, not merely upgraded training.

  18. @upperdeckjohnny

    You are misrepresenting the hinged wing concept.

    The whole raison d’etre of the 777X is efficiency. Modern wing design is long and skinny as opposed to the big fat lumps that keep the 380 in the air. Reduced drag makes a very efficient airplane and, when combined with the new high efficiency engines, makes the 777X the most ecologically sound and efficient airplane in the sky. (Well, the C Series Bombardier might suggest otherwise 😉 )

    The optimal 777X wing design was a bit too long for ALL the current airport loading ramps. So rather than asking all the airports in the world to build very expensive infrastructure (hi Airbus – airports the world over love you for the huge cost to build new runways and terribly expensive ramps to accommodate the 10 year ego trip 380) Boeing cleverly came up with the hinged wingtip design concept. You can be sure that this is the most carefully designed new feature of any commercial aircraft. However, luckily, there is a huge body of knowledge gained from all the military aircraft that have hinged wings so they fit on aircraft carriers. (Aside – military fighter wings encounter much higher g forces than civilian passenger liners and their hinges are basically at the wing root).

    So its not about how much lift – it is how to design a wing with minimum drag at the required lift to make it the most efficient in the world.

    It is not unknown to stretch designs without a problem. Look at the classic DC8. Started as a 4-engine 119 passenger airplane (DC8-11) and eventually evolved into the DC8-63L with 269 passengers. The wings were lengthened and redesigned. The fuselage was lengthened by at least 37 feet and the engines were changed from PW JTC3 at 13,000 lb thrust up to the GE CFM56 at 22,000 lbs thrust. Or the 747?

    Stretching fuselage/wings and upgrading the engines is not really an issue.

    Over its lifetime the DC8 or the 747 for that matter had many improvements but did not require re certification on type. An Airbus pilot is certified for all aircraft in the 318 to 321 range. The only requirement is that you are competent to fly on at least one of the variants, and have been given the required “differences training”.

    So I personally cannot wait to fly the 777X.

  19. Hi Ben

    I just read your “updated” commenting policy as my last entry is being moderated. I am sure that it will pass and I applaud how well your new policy reads. I hope it works as we all appreciate the opportunity to discuss.

    I noticed recently that the use of one word that means “cancelling a project” but might be construed as a “personal physical attack” caused moderation but I am sure there are more. I will try not to use them as well.

  20. @Azamaraal

    I was pleased to read your response, and it is refreshing to hear from someone knowledgeable on this blog.

    I think we agree on the “Raison d’etre” that the wing needs surface to gain lift. As such the 777X would have been too wide, ergo the hinged wing. My point is that the envelope was initiated by Boeing based on the size of the 747. Which, incidentally you have nicely excluded from the necessary runway modifications, and steps and ramps to reach the height of the doors, which were all necessary worldwide at the time. Incidentally few, if any, airports worldwide had to build “new” runways nor ramps for the A380.

    The only other commercial aircraft to feature hinged wings was the 2707, which never flew!

    The hinged wing would not deter me from flying on the 777X. The “largest ever engines on a commercial airliner” with enlarged nacelles and possible different mountings probably would.

  21. Hi back

    The A380 required runway reinforcement for its weight as well as width plus the double Deck boarding facilities. It also required runway length extension. It also required taxiway reinforcement because of the weight.

    I was unaware of runway extension for the 747 as the underpowered 707’s of the day took forever to reach Vr on a hot day. But then that’s 50 years ago

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