The Boeing Company has just published it’s First Quarter Results for 2022 and the release contained news that no airline manager who has planes on order would love to hear: Further delays of the B777-X until now 2025.
Boeings project of the new B777 version that many airlines have been counting on has already encountered several delays but the newest announcement is a real blowback.
This is throwing many carriers’ fleet planning plans into limbo, especially Emirates has 127 B77X on order to replace/supplement its 153 Boeing 777 currently in service.
Customers such as Lufthansa are likewise on the short end of the stick as they originally planned to introduce new cabin products with the B77X but with the planes FIRST deliveries now pushed back to 2025 at the earliest it’s a big question if the airline can wait that long.
… The Commercial Airplanes team is applying that same focus to the 787 program as we complete a comprehensive effort to ensure every airplane in our production system conforms to our exacting specifications. Marking an important step, we have submitted the certification plan to the FAA. We also completed the required work on initial airplanes and are conducting Boeing check flights. We will continue to give our teams the time they need, engage transparently and follow the lead of our regulator on next steps and timing.
We also successfully launched our 777-8 Freighter program in the quarter, with our partner Qatar Airways, as cargo demand continues to grow. And on the 777-9 program, while the team is progressing well in development and testing, delivery of the first 777-9 airplane is now expected in 2025, based on an updated assessment of the time required to meet certification requirements.
To minimize inventory and the number of airplanes requiring change incorporation, we’re also adjusting the 777-9 production rate ramp, including a temporary pause through 2023. This adjustment will also enable us to add 777 freighter capacity starting in late 2023. We remain confident in the 777 program and our customers continue to see the value in its compelling economics and sustainability benefits. Airplane programs serve our market for several decades, and it is important we take the time now to position for long-term success. …
They try to put a positive spin on it or at least attempt to make it sounds like business as usual but it’s anything but. This is a major announcement of bad news that will have sent shock waves to airline managers who were urgently looking forward to their own B777X deliveries. Now they won’t get any before 2025 or even later depending on where they are in the queue.
In February I wrote about Emirates President Tim Clark already having doubts about the program and he criticized the production delays of both Boeing and Airbus as well:
Here is what Mr. Clark said in February:
Where are you with Boeing right now?
We had multiple meetings with them and we need to sort out this contract by the end of February, as it is a complete mess. We don’t want to cancel the 787s or the 777-9s, we want the airplanes. What is going to happen when the A380 goes otherwise, what am I left with? But we want the aircraft in the shape that the contract requires. The total of 30 787s in there look very marginal now as they are so far behind in production. They were supposed to come in May 2023. But it’s not going to happen, how can they deliver? Look at the huge backlog, they haven’t produced any aircraft lately, that’ll take them two or three years to go over that. They got production and quality control issues that they admit, and now after the MAX crisis with the regulator saying ‘we want to have a good look at everything, that is slowing the whole thing down. …
In Boeing we have twelve production aircraft of the 777-9 that have been produced already for us, they are in storage without their engines. But because of the certification issues and the remedial work that has to go into the FAA’s and EASA’s requirements, I don’t know where it’s going to end, I just don’t have visibility on that. So that aircraft is not due to be certified into July 2023, if they are lucky they’ll get it, if not, it will go on for another six months or a year.
Honestly, if it goes beyond 2023 and it goes on for another year, we probably cancel the program. What else can we do? We can’t continue the way we are. Boeing really needs to get their act together and get this aircraft sorted. Don’t forget – the aircraft was originally designed for delivery in April 2020, it’s now 2024 if we are lucky. You’ve now got a four-year delay with the program. If they have another year on it, we are going to question if this is fit for purpose or not, what’s the problem with it? I hope it doesn’t happen, as there is nowhere else we could go. They are building the biggest aircraft and we want it. It was done at our request back in 2010, I don’t even want to think about it not happening.
The worst-case scenario he pointed to in this interview has now come true. It’ll be very interesting to see what Emirates does now. He hinted at scrapping the B777-9 from the carrier’s plans but then… is there really a choice at this point?
We had an article back in 2013 when the project gained traction, now almost 10 years down the line there isn’t much yet to show for at least as far as the passenger version is concerned.
Hopefully, Boeing can get the problems with the B777-X sorted and have these planes delivered to their customers as it is already causing major issues.
The Boeing B777-X passenger version is now officially delayed until at least some time in 2025.
Emirates (among others) is facing a dilemma with Boeing’s lack of progress with the B777-900 program which was started 12 years ago on the behest of the Dubai-based carrier. The program is already two years behind schedule and Emirates President Tim Clark expects another 1-2 years delay. If it’s any more he would even consider walking away from the B777-900 based on the airline’s requirements at that time.
The question is: Then what? As Clark admitted himself, he needs these aircraft, and even though the lifetime of current planes can be extended without a problem as long as they’re well maintained. But that doesn’t solve the problem of the cabin interior which requires a complete overhaul in Business Class and that at some point in time new planes need to be supplied either way. Is there really an alternative to waiting for the B777-900? Most likely not because what other aircraft of that size is supposed to fill the gap? The A350 ain’t going to cut it.
What a mess!