Boeing seeks common avionics suite for 777X, consultant says

Washington DC
Source:
This story is sourced from Pro
See more Pro news »

Boeing will seek to transfer major elements of the 787's cockpit systems to the new 777X, perhaps preserving the common cockpit rating achieved between the 787 and the legacy 777 series, according to an industry analyst.

The decision was announced on 7 May by vice-president of marketing and business development Mike Bair at a Boeing-hosted conference for investors and analysts in New York, says aerospace consultant Ernest Arvai, who attended the meeting.

Boeing says it has not finalised the avioincs architecture and source of supply for the 777X.

"When making source selection for new requirements, competition will be used whenever possible to secure best value for our customers and Boeing.  Suppliers invited to participate in competition will be from among the industry's best performing, highest capable companies," Boeing says.

The new detail emerges a week after Boeing's board of directors granted the authority to offer the 777X to customers, a key milestone ahead of a formal launch event perhaps later this year. Boeing plans to introduce the re-engined and re-winged stretch of the 777 series at the end of the decade, and likely at least a year after the scheduled certification of the General Electric GE9X in May 2018.

Boeing is now in discussions with potential customers, which include British Airways, Emirates, Qatar Airways and Air Lease Corp, to refine aspects of the 777X's design and performance before formally launching the aircraft and booking orders.

Re-using the Honeywell system for the 777X marks a break from Boeing's approach on the cockpit system for the re-engined and updated 737 Max. In that case, Boeing decided to replace the Honeywell system used on the next generation 737 family with a Rockwell Collins system on the Max series.

But the 777X avionics strategy follows Boeing's strategy to harvest new technologies gained from the painful introduction of the 787, which appeared more than three years late and has only recently recovered from a three-month grounding caused by over-heating lithium-ion batteries.

The 787 cockpit system was substantially modelled on the suite on the 777-200LR and 777-300ER, to the point that the aircraft share a common type rating that helps reduce required training for pilots.

It is not clear yet if Boeing will seek a common type rating for the 777X and 787 families.

The 777X family is expected to include possibly as many as three variants - a roughly 350-seat -8, an ultra long-range -8LX and the 400-plus-seat 777-9. Arvai says Boeing is also likely to consider a freighter variant based on the 777-8.

(Article updated with Boeing comments and corrected to reflect that the 787 cockpit system includes elements from Honeywell, Rockwell Collins and General Electric.)