Boeing Commercial Airplanes confirmed it is postponing the delivery of its 777-8 wide-body aircraft, apparently as a consequence of the delays in its aircraft development program incurred as a consequence of the problems with the 737 MAX narrow-body jets. “We reviewed our development program schedule and the needs of our current 777X customers and decided to adjust the schedule,” according to Boeing spokesman Paul Bergman, quoted in an e-mail statement published by Reuters.
The 737 MAX is the suspended aircraft that was involved in two fatal crashes, forcing Boeing to halt aircraft deliveries and idle production. The OEM also redirected numerous engineering resources to resolving the cause of the crashes, now determined to be an error in flight-control software.
It’s still unknown when the 737 MAX fix will be completed and the aircraft will be returned to service. Hundreds of daily flights have been cancelled in the meantime.
The 777-8 is one of two versions of the 777X, an updated version of the current 777 long-range aircraft, to be powered by two GE Aviation GE9X engines, with wings formed in composite materials, a wider passenger cabin, and increased seating capacity. The 777-8 will carry 365 passengers and have a range of 8,690 nautical miles (16,090 km).
Another variant, the 777-9, will seat 414 passengers and have a range of over 7,525 nautical miles (13,936 km). The 777-9 is scheduled to make the first commercial appearance, in 2020, to Emirates Air. Reportedly, Boeing maintains its intention to keep that schedule.
Boeing had been working to develop an ultra-long-range version of the 777-8, capable of non-stop flights from Australia to New York or London. While the 777-9 may proceed toward its 2020 debut, the 777-8 now seems certain to be delayed past its scheduled 2022 introduction date.
Bergman added: “The adjustment reduces risk in our development program, ensuring a more seamless transition to the 777-8. We continue to engage with our current and potential customers on how we can meet their fleet needs.”