"We do see a high wave of replacement demand (for worn, older 777s) early in the next decade, but that means those sales campaigns are underway now," Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said Wednesday.
Muilenburg revealed the sales shift — planned and part of 777X program — during a call with analysts after Boeing released record fourth-quarter and full 2018 financial results.
Boeing so far has 326 orders for the 777X, which is so big it will have folding wingtips. Its last order came in June 2017.
Muilenberg said Boeing's two-pronged sales efforts to win 777X orders comes as the company also attempts to secure more orders for the classic 777 model, a strategy aimed at "building a bridge" between the old and new manufacturing programs.
The 51 777 classic orders Boeing won in 2018 strengthened the bridge between older and new models, he said. Both jets are made at Boeing Everett.
"We still have have some work to do to fill out that bridge," Muilenberg said. "Our confidence continues to grow in our ability to do that."
Boeing CFO Greg Smith also shared an update about the 777X program, which remains in the development and testing stage.
The company is building 777X test aircraft, including one for a first flight this year. The jets must pass all tests before U.S. aviation safety regulators certify the airplane as safe for passengers. Airlines are scheduled to get the new jet starting in 2020.
"Things are going well out there (Everett) today," Smith said from his office at Boeing's Chicago headquarters. "We've got very good early signs that the aircraft is moving into the production system smoothly and any challenges we have, we're working through and we know what they are. But so far so good."
Boeing will build five 777s a month in 2020, a combination of 777Xs and 777 classics. It builds 3.5 a month now.
(Andrew McIntosh - Puget Sound Business Journal)