Skip to main content

A long-range wide-body twinjet airliner produced by Boeing since 1993, with over 1,500 built.

The Boeing 777 (pronounced either “seven seventy-seven” or “triple seven”) is a long-range twin-engine widebody jetliner produced by since 1993; it is the largest twinjet in the world, Boeing’s second-largest airliner, behind only the (and the newer, bigger 777s are quickly closing that gap), Boeing’s most profitable jetliner, and the company’s most-produced widebody jetliner (although, with 1,582 built through the end of 2018, it is still far behind the 10,000-plus airframes of the company’s most-produced jetliner overall - the , produced continuously since 1967 and the most-sold jetliner by anyone ever).

Before the current design took shape, the 777 designation had been applied to a completely different aircraft - a widebody trijet (similar to the ) developed in the late 1970s, alongside the and . The advent of allowed twinjets, such as the 767, to fly the lucrative routes that had formerly required a trijet or quadjet, and, as a twinjet will always be cheaper and more efficient than an otherwise-similar trijet or quadjet, the trijet 777 never made it into production.

This left a gap in Boeing’s catalog between the 767 (on the lower end) and the 747 (on the upper end), which the airlines - at the time - filled with the DC-10 and ; however, as retirement age for these older trijets inexorably crept closer, Boeing began work on a larger 767 to compete with the jetliners in Airbus’s and McDonnell Douglas’s pipelines (the and , respectively). They soon realized that the airlines, far from wanting merely another 767 stretch, were looking for something completely new, larger, more flexible, cheaper, and, above all, new. They then brought said airlines onboard in the design process (an industry first), the better to serve Boeing’s prospective customers. Although trying to make a one-size-fits-all product to satisfy all the demands of several different buyers can easily result in a product that is very late to market, and, when it does, finally, arrive, proves to be a mediocre compromise satisfying nobody, Boeing managed to avoid this trap with the 777, and instead produce an aircraft that came to market on time and satisfied everybody (or, at least, everybody who had put in suggestions for what it should be able to do). The 777 represented some other firsts for the company, as well; it was their first aircraft (a technology pioneered in the airliner market just the previous decade by the ), as well as the first airliner designed by anyone entirely by computer.

The 777 first flew on 12 June 1994; an extensive program allowed it to be certified in both the U.S. and Europe in April 1995, receive U.S. approval for 180-minute ETOPS the following month (the first jetliner to have this approval from the moment it entered service), and carry its first paying passengers the month after that, for United Airlines on 7 June 1995.

The 777 mainly competes with the A330, , and , as well as, to some extent (especially with the later, larger models), the 747; it also competed with the MD-11 when that type was still in passenger service, and still competes with it in the freighter market, as well as with older DC-10s.

There have been nine commercial variants of the 777 over the years (eight passenger, one freighter), grouped into three main series:

777 Classics

These models have a 60.93-meter (199-foot-11) wingspan, and are powered by one of these three s: the Pratt & Whitney PW4000, the Rolls-Royce Trent 800, or the General Electric GE90.

  • The 777-200 (the last Boeing airliner to have a -100 variant was the 747) was the launch version of the 777, entering service, as previously stated, with United Airlines in June 1995. Aimed at the U.S. domestic market, it has a 9,700-km (5,240-nmi) range, and typically carries about 300 passengers, although it can legally carry up to 440 in an all-economy sardine configuration. 88 were delivered, and 55 remain in operation.
  • The 777-200ER (Extended Range) flew its first passengers in February 1997, with British Airways. The Extended Range (up to 13,000 km [7,000 nmi]), intended to make it more competitive for transatlantic flights, comes from its uprated engines, whose greater thrust allow it a heavier maximum takeoff weight, enabling it to carry more fuel (although not more passengers) than the original 777-200. It proved far more popular than the earlier model, selling 422 aircraft, with 338 of these still flying today; it is also, possibly not coincidentally, the only Classic-series 777 still offered by Boeing (although there are currently no orders outstanding for it).
  • The 777-300, a stretch of the 777-200, entered service in May 1998 with Cathay Pacific. Its 10.1-meter (33-foot)-longer fuselage lets it carry around 370 passengers in a typical configuration, and up to 550 in full-on sardine mode; it also made it, at the time, the longest jetliner ever built. The longer, heavier fuselage is somewhat compensated for by its use of the higher-capacity fuel tanks and more powerful engines introduced on the 777-200ER, and it can fly up to 11,100 km (6,000 nmi) in a single leap with a full passenger load. 48 remain in service out of a total 60 delivered; the last of these was in 2006, following the introduction of…

...the Ultra-Long-Range variants

These models have a 64.80-meter (212-foot-7) wingspan, with the wingtips raked back to reduce drag, and are powered solely by the GE90-110/115 engine, the most powerful and (until 2018) largest turbofan ever built.

  • The first was the 777-300ER (derived from the 777-300), introduced with Air France in the spring of 2004. Compared to the 777-300, its even more powerful engines let it carry yet more fuel, giving it a range of up to 13,650 km (7,370 nmi) with the same passenger capacity as the earlier model. It is the most popular 777 yet, with 799 delivered (784 remaining in service) and 45 more on order.
  • The 777-200LR (an even Longer Range development of the 777-200ER) entered service with Pakistan International Airlines in early 2006, and is the longest-range of the second-generation models, being capable of up to 15,840 km (8,550 nmi) at a time. As with the 777-300ER, its more powerful engines let it carry more fuel than its predecessor. 59 have been built, and 50 still fly.
  • The 777F, the first dedicated freighter version of the 777, reached its first customer (Air France) in February 2009; it is based on the 777-200LR, although Boeing has also considered a freighter version of the 777-300ER, as well as freighter conversions of passenger 777-200ERs and 777-300ERs. Compared to the 777-200LR, it sacrifices range for cargo capacity, but can still fly 9,200 km (4,970 nmi) with a full load, and farther with a less-than-full load. 140 are currently in service out of a total of 154 deliveries, plus 59 outstanding orders.

777X series

These models have a 71.8-meter (235-foot-5) wingspan, with raked-back wingtips like those found on the second-generation (ultra-long-range) models; to allow them to fit into gates and taxiways designed for the earlier 777s, the 777Xs use , with the outermost 3.5 meters (11 feet) of each wing folding up to vertical when the aircraft is taxiing or parked. Despite their greater span, the wings of the 777X models are actually lighter than those of earlier 777s, due to being built from rather than the traditional aluminium. They use the General Electric GE9X, an even larger (though slightly less powerful) derivative of the GE90 with a considerably higher , and, hence, greater .

  • The 777-9, which first flew on 25 January 2020 (delayed from 2019 due to issues with the GE9X engine), becoming the first of the 777X models to take to the air, is scheduled to enter service in 2021; able to carry 414 passengers 14,000 km (7,600 nmi) nonstop in a typical configuration, it can sardine in over 600 warm bodies in an all-economy configuration (rivalling the 747), although at the price of reduced range. Boeing has accumulated 273 orders for the type.
  • The 777-8, when it flies (scheduled for 2021), will be the longest-range 777 yet, able to fly 16,110 km (8,700 nmi) nonstop with a ~370-passenger three-class capacity and a 550-passenger sardine capacity (similar to the 777-300 and 777-300ER). 53 have been ordered by various airlines.
  • The largest-ever 777, the 777-10, is a stretch of the 777-9, and will be able to carry even more passengers (precisely how many has not yet been finalized, although it has been reported that its capacity would be great enough for it to compete directly with the , which can carry over 700 passengers in an all-economy configuration).

For more information, see Wikipedia’s articles on: