Boeing's long term dabbling on the chalk board and note pad for the 777X program ended awhile back. New computers were installed in the various technology pits within Boeing's world footprint. All this during a time when productivity of the 777 expanded, a surge line for the 787 was completed and Charleston rolled out and delivered a flyable 787. Even though all this was going on, the 777X remained at bay, somewhere in a cement and glass encased buildings where cars are parked nearby, and don't move for long periods of time. The Tax dragging down the 777X is listed below:
- Resources for R&D are limited,
- Cost reductions from production efficiency needed from the 787 project, and other projects.
- Project maturation not yet acquired for rolling technology forward to the 777X in design and configuration completion.
- Cash flow management lean, because of 787-9,-10 infusions.
- Enough people available that prevents show stoppers like the 787 program had for X long years.
These are just a few resources that taxes Boeing's Juggernaut of expanding its family line of aircraft. Already multiples Gulf customers and others have expressed a serious interest in the 777X.
Boeing is not concerned with customers at this point, but knows exactly what it needs to do before proceeding. An announcement can be made anytime in the next three years. Even very soon, as in Paris 2013, if necessary. That maybe the key moment to blow up the party balloons around the Boeing Paris Pavilion. If it does not happen then, its not because of lack of potential customers, because they do have a 777 backlog in play and interested customers as mentioned above. The important thing, is similar to any major operation, you make a list and check it twice. Ever since, I was child, the adults had a saying, "before you do that, get your ducks in a row".
Boeing's ducks are not yet in a row or on a time table, when getting things right is more important. It's not so much if Boeing can't execute the 777X, but its more of when it will be ready to execute the 777X. Its like planning an invasion, where Boeing is marshaling all hands on deck, within a definite time period. No mention yet, of suppliers involvements, or potential partners on the project. Other than the usual suspects. When the X announcement is made, the die has already been cast. This is not a 777 make-over, it is a "777 game changer". Does Boeing have secret intelligence, that suggest the Airbus, A-350 family will not beat the 777-300, or does it have have a strategic move up its sleeve? Mystery surrounds the slow down, of both the 787-10 and 777X. One can only surmise it is a pacing maneuver that makes sure a continuous flow of what is proposed or promised delivers at the right time and without setbacks. A coiled spring is better than a limp rope. It took awhile for Boeing to wind up the 787 project rope.
Boeing 777 wikipedia photo
"Under the Chicago-based airframer’s latest schedule on the 777X development in December, the concept development of the 777-8X and -9X has been successfully accomplished at the end of 2011, with a firm configuration of the aircraft due in the second quarter of 2012, followed by the securing of an authority-to-offer (ATO) from Boeing’s board of directors in the third-quarter, Aspire Aviation‘s multiple sources at Boeing revealed."
- "Meanwhile, the 777X will feature a 787-styled composite/super-critical wing that is going to have a considerably better lift-to-drag (L/D) ratio and is significantly lighter than the wings of the 777-300ER, with a wingspan of as large as 71.1 metres (233.4 feet)."
- The larger wing of the 777X will make it an International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Code F aircraft instead of the Code E category that the 777-300ER and -200LR are in today as well as a US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airplane Design Group (ADG) Group VI aircraft whereas the 777-300ER and -200LR are Group V aircraft. The ICAO Code E and FAA ADG Group V categories include airplanes whose wingspan is between 52 m (170.6 ft) to 65 m (213.3 ft) whereas the Code F and ADG Group VI categories include airplanes with a 65 m (213.3 ft) to 80 m (262.5 ft) wingspan.
- Moreover, the same sources say Alcoa’s 3rd-generation lightweight aluminium lithium (Al-Li) is a “viable option” for the 777X, which will feature a 10% weight saving and a 6% reduction in skin friction drag, while cautioning the decision in the choice of the material for the 777X’s fuselage will not be made anytime soon.
- Indeed, a 777X featuring an advanced aluminium-lithium fuselage with a composite wing makes sense in significantly trimming weight, thereby further improving the fuel burn performance of the aircraft. In addition, advanced aluminium-lithium (Al-Li) is a well understood technology that requires little to no modification in the production process and will not complicate the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification for the 777X. Put it simply, advanced aluminium-lithium technology is what Aspire Aviation‘s sources characterise as a “low-hanging fruit” that could be incorporated into the design and the production of the 777X very easily, while providing a considerable weight saving."