Listen on the go: Four Days investigation, narrated by Kevin Donovan
When the news broke on Monday that the U.S. Air Force had grounded its entire fleet of Boeing 747-8s, many in the aviation industry celebrated. But there was one problem: the U.S. government had canceled the order for a new, bigger version of the 737.
The grounded planes were the 747-8R, which had been designed to be the first step to an order for the new, as-yet-unnamed replacement. As the airliner market enters its most mature stage, the industry’s first foray into the future must be careful, considering that airplanes aren’t just machines with wings. The 737 is not just an airplane—it’s a work of art.
The 747-8R was the first step in a larger plan. The airliner market has been maturing for a while now, and the last few years have ushered in a new era of big, comfortable airliners that have a wider range of capabilities, more features, and a lower cost structure than any airplane before it.
The goal of the 777-9R? To take on the Boeing 787.
The 777-9R (B-787-8R)
The U.S. government ordered 777-9R jets for nine years, but the first production aircraft will fly with the 777-9ER, which has a greater range and capacity. The current 777-9R is the first non-market model to receive certification.
Although the aircraft is based on the 777-200ER and is equipped with Boeing’s Extended Range LEAP-G Flight Control System with Super Engine, the plane will be able to fly up to 8,848 nautical miles (15,567 kilometers) without refuelling in the United States.
In addition to the new range and capacity, the 777-9R (B-787-9R) will have a higher gross weight (17,700kg [37,000lbs]) and is quieter than its predecessor (though not necessarily quieter than the 747-8R). The 777-9R (B-787-9R) will be able to carry 1,500 more passengers per hour per ton-km than