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Fri, Oct 08, 2021

Possible Boeing 777X Freighter Inbound

Widebody Twin War on the Horizon? 

Sources close to the usual buyers have spun rumors of Boeing’s upcoming release of an all-freight variant of the twin-engine 777X. Faced with flagging sales and deferred orders for passenger liners, whispers of Boeing’s courtship of large freight operators seems probable.

So far, Singapore Airlines, FedEx, Deutsche Lufthansa, as well as their DHL unit have likely been offered the product, which could be announced at next month’s Dubai Airshow. Airbus has approved production for an A350 Freighter to be built by 2025, beating its Boeing equivalent to market by two years before the 777X freighter would be available. 

Introduction of the spiritual successor to the 747 can’t come soon enough for Boeing. As the 747’s cargo model, the -8F has continued to log hours in the freight industry, operators have chafed at the increasing costs of operation it’s four engines entail. Production is currently expected to end in 2022 when the last of its orders are fulfilled. A twin-engine widebody would be a formidable contender against the Airbus A330 and put Boeing back to its favorite spot as the premier aircraft manufacturer to beat. The business is needed, as the company waves away the lingering scent of the 737 Max debacle from their buyers’ minds. Regulatory delays have postponed the commercial debut of the first 777X by years, as of now set for 2023. Boeing is still comfortable customers will choose them, though, as Tom Crabtree, Regional Director of Air Cargo, said the 777X freighter is a benchmark-setter in maximizing the use of space in its spacious frame. Airbus’ A350 competitor, he noted with mirth, that ” in terms of cross-section, it’s only on par with the MD-11”. 

Qatar Airways Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, was quiet on the specifics of a deal, saying only “We have a requirement for 50 aircraft and we will make a decision soon.” A recent spat with Airbus over paint damage to Qatar’s A350 fleet is a mark against the European manufacturer. “If they want to sell any A350’s to us, they have to fix the problem they have, for which they don’t have a solution at the moment.” Qatar’s 26 777F freighters have given them a taste of a future iteration, which will help them meet increasingly stringent pollution standards taking effect in 2028. One deal with Boeing might include options to transfer orders of their passenger 777X to the cargo version, as well. 

It remains to be seen when such a debut could occur. Recent trade shows still draw anemic crowds compared to their earlier turnouts before 2020, and the freedom enjoyed by manufacturers could always result in an unorthodox product announcement outside of the traditional trade show booth release. 

FMI: www.boeing.com, www.airbus.com

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