By Chuck Taylor
Boeing is to brief the media on the 777X airplane program Monday morning at the Dubai Airshow in the United Arab Emirates. Dubai is 12 hours ahead of the U.S. Pacific time zone, so the Boeing event will occur at 10 p.m. Everett time on Sunday.
The scheduled speaker at the news conference is Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of Airplane Development for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. While Boeing won’t confirm this will be the big unveiling of the 777X program, this is the only 777X event on Boeing’s schedule.
The 777X launch is certain to include 100 or more orders for the plane by Emirates Airline but possibly Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways as well. Middle East carriers are the biggest customers of large, long-range jetliners. Emirates is one of the biggest airlines in the world and the present 777’s best customer.
The Wall Street Journal has an interesting story about how Middle East airlines, notably Emirates, have shaped the specs of the 777X — perhaps to the disregard of the needs of the rest of the world’s carriers. Says a Lufthansa exec, whose airline has already signed on: “We need a global compromise on the aircraft; it needs to be a good aircraft for everyone.”
Boeing will unveil the likely final specifications for the plane and a comprehensive list of improvements, including carbon-fiber-composite wings — the longest wings it has ever made — perhaps with folding wingtips. The fuselage will be aluminum, like the present 777 but unlike the 787.
Boeing also might unveil the timeline for first delivery. Some of the specs have long been known but the timeline now is vaguely by 2020 for entry into service.
Boeing is perceived to be launching this new airplane late. It lags the comparable Airbus A350-1000 by a couple of years.
The 777X won’t be the only thing the company is hawking in Dubai, of course.
Says a Boeing news release: “Boeing will showcase a range of products and services at the 2013 Dubai Air Show including a United Arab Emirates (UAE) Armed Forces Land Force AH-64D Apache, an AH-6i light attack/reconnaissance helicopter, a Qatar Airways and Royal Brunei Airlines’ 787 Dreamliner and a flydubai 737-800 featuring the Boeing Sky Interior and business class configuration.”