Boeing showed off the latest version of the world’s largest twin-engine jet at the Farnborough Airshow in the UK, with a spectacular flight demonstration of a 777X.
Videos posted on social media and by Boeing itself show the 70-meter-long 777-9 (one of two variants of the 777X) hovering in the sky at a nearly vertical angle before quickly leveling off.
The 777-9 presented at the airshow is an experimental version of the aircraft, which should be put into commercial service from 2025. The passenger versions of the aircraft have ranges of 16,170 km for the -8 and 13 500 kilometers for the -9. The -8’s range approximates the distance required to fly Qantas’ planned non-stop “Project Sunrise” routes from the east coast of Australia to London and New York. While the 777-8 might be able to reach these routes with some modification, Qantas has already confirmed plans to go with rival Airbus’ A350-1000.
The 777X promises 10% lower emissions and fuel consumption than its competitors, as well as a wider and more comfortable cabin. The long-delayed plane currently has 376 orders from airlines around the world, with launch customer Qatar Airways indicating at the start of the airshow that it would increase its current order of 74 jets.
The air show, which alternates with Paris, is the first at Farnborough since 2019, and rising defense spending will be at the center of the war in Ukraine.
As the event opened, Boeing, under pressure to catch up on rival Airbus, set an upbeat tone on demand for planes despite a faltering global economy.
“I think we’ll see the glory of the good old days — and more,” chief executive Dave Calhoun told CNBC, adding that he’s been watching the economy closely. “At the moment, I’m taking advantage of the strong demand we’re seeing.”
Boeing is seeking to shore up its struggling 737 MAX 10 and 777X jetliners with orders worth more than $15 billion at list prices from Delta Air Lines and Lufthansa.
Delta confirmed Monday that it will buy 100 737 MAX 10s, worth $13.5 billion at list price, and has an option to buy 30 more. Boeing shares rose 4% in premarket trading.
India’s Jet Airways is set to buy 50 A220s from Airbus, two people familiar with the matter said. The airline’s board of directors was due to meet on Monday to finalize the deal.
Demand for jets peaked in 2016 but remained buoyant until the pandemic crippled air travel. Now travel is bouncing back, passengers are facing long queues and some jets are back in demand.
But the large orders that dominated past events are rarer as airlines repair balance sheets weakened by COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Aerospace companies came under pressure from customers early in the show to stabilize fractured supply chains and fuel resurgent demand for jets, even as airlines and airports struggle to smooth their own operations after the pandemic.
Airbus Chief Executive Guillaume Faury told Flightglobal in an interview published on Monday that engine delays preventing rear aircraft deliveries would peak in the middle of the year.
But the head of the body representing global airlines, IATA director general Willie Walsh, said manufacturers had wasted opportunities to bolster assembly lines.
“Airlines are frustrated with aircraft delivery delays; they’re frustrated with issues like access to spare parts,” Walsh told Reuters.
“I think (manufacturers) should have taken better advantage of the lull in demand over the past two years to better prepare for this recovery.”
Industries around the world are facing gaps in supply chains and labor shortages. Even the Farnborough Airshow itself has struggled to recruit enough hospitality staff, insiders said.
Aviation is also under pressure to build greener planes and stop adding to what Johnson called “carbon tea” heating the planet. “We know we have to fix it. We know the clock is ticking,” he said.
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