Following program delays with the Boeing 777X; it is being reported that Boeing has potentially offered the 777-200LR to Qantas, as a temporary Project Sunrise solution.
First reported by Airline Ratings; sources from the United States have said that Boeing is offering the 777-200LR as an interim solution, whilst they get the 777X program back on track.
Directly in competition with Airbus’ A350 offering is the 777-8; however, with production of the type suspended/slowed down, Boeing has been working hard to keep an aircraft on the table, providing Qantas with an offer they cannot refuse.
No clear indication is available as to what this offer includes, but sources have noted the larger 777-9, with reduced payload and additional fuel tanks, or a small fleet of 777-200LRs.
Interestingly enough, Qantas was a key player during the development stages of the 777; however they dropped the aircraft in favour of a fleet of Airbus A330s and A380s.
If selected by the airline, the fleet would likely operate until Boeing can deliver the desired 777X variant. The 777-200LR fleet is then expected to be converted into freighters for FedEx, providing this source is correct.
Making the deal better for Qantas, Boeing says the 777-9X would be the perfect large aircraft to replace the A380 fleet when the time comes; however Qantas says the competition is extremely tough with the A350-1000.
With Sydney to London being approximately 17,000 kilometres in distance, the 777-200LR, with around 270 instead of 317 seats, could easily operate the flights until a replacement aircraft enters the commercial market. In its stock configuration, the 777-200LR has a range of 15,844 kilometres.
Whether or not Qantas goes ahead with this rumoured option depends on the offers Airbus is sending their way; however with both companies pushed away due to poor pricing, it will be a while before additional movements are made.
Developed alongside the 777-300ER in the early 2000s, the 777-200LR features an increased maximum takeoff weight and optional auxiliary fuel tanks in the aft cargo hold. A strengthened landing gear and airframe supports the aircraft at maximum weight.
Hauling the aircraft through the air are two GE90-110B1 or GE90-115B engines, and to increase efficiency, Boeing has also included extended raked wing tips.
Boeing gave the 777-200LR the name “Worldliner” as it can almost reach any city pair in the world, however this is subject to ETOPS. Airbus’ closest competitor is the discontinued A340-500 and the A350-900ULR.
Despite this, Airbus’ current offering involves an A350-1000 with a maximum takeoff weight increase and aerodynamic refinements, increasing the range enough to profitably operate Qantas’ desired flights.
What are your thoughts on this rumoured 777-200LR offer?