Boeing's first concept images of its 777X business class cabin suggests the next-generation jet could adopt what’s generally considered as a last-generation design.
Taking advantage of the 777x's slightly wider floorplan compared to the rest of the 777 family, Boeing has squeezed an extra seat into the centre of the business class cabin for a 2-3-2 layout.
The staggered layout still provides that middle seat with direct access to the aisle, by weaving around in front of one of the aisle-adjacent seats – as a result, it may end up having even more space immediately in front of the seat that any other bunk on the Boeing 777X.
Boeing's take is that the 777X can "offer a 7-abreast business class cabin while still meeting modern day expectations of privacy and a full lie-flat seat."
This concept image doesn't necessarily represent a real design – but don't be surprised if Boeing's catalogue of designs includes such a 2-3-2 option to tempt airlines with the lure of fitting more seats into their lucrative premium cabins.
That said, Collins Aerospace already offers its Apex Suite in a 2-3-2 version, as seen on Japan Airlines’ Boeing 777-300ER jets (and shown below).
Boeing is also leveraging some of the materials technology and design advances made by the Boeing 787: the windows of the 777X are oversized so as to let more light into the cabin, and they adopt the same electronic dimming capability as on the Dreamliners, but with less blue and more darkness.
As expected, there's also increased humidity and a faster cycling of fresher air, to keep jetlag at bay and help passengers feel better by reducing that generally grungy sense of reduce travel fatigue.
But Boeing also has some new tricks up its sleeve.
It says the “the ceiling panels themselves” will serve as cabin speakers so that the general appearance of the overhead panels is more streamlined; "improved insulation in the sidewalls" will dampen cabin noise; and there will be more air nozzles firing downwards, but redesigned for "less velocity".
Boeing's slow tease of the 777X will ramp up with test flights of the jet later this year, ahead of delivery of the first 777-9 to launch partner Lufthansa in 2020.
Interestingly, Lufthansa has already revealed its Boeing 777X business class cabin – and it's a less crowded space with its own unique take on seating arrangement, in the form of an alternating 1-2-1 and 1-1-1 layout.
The 1-2-1 rows see the paired middle seats are angled away from one another (a privacy screen between the seats which can be lowered for some travelling tête-à-tête, although you'll still need to swivel towards your companion).
The 1-1-1 rows provide a centre 'throne' seat which is likely to be highly sought-after, not only for the additional privacy it offers but the added personal space on either side of the passenger.
In both rows, the window seats alternate between being located at the aisle, with a bench between the passenger and the window; and having passengers directly next to the window, with a bench between their seat and the aisle.
Some high-tech touches include an inbuilt wireless charging pad in each side console, alongside USB-A and USB-C ports, while a removable mini-tablet docked into the wall of each seat will provide control over everything from the inflight entertainment and seating position to lighting and ventilation.
ANA, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines have also signed on the dotted line for the Boeing 777-9.
The more compact but longer-range 777-8 is scheduled follow in 2022 and is one of the jets being considered by Qantas for its ambitious Project Sunrise, which would see non-stop flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to the likes New York, London, Paris, Capetown and Rio de Janeiro.