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History

Aircraft By Type

Jets

Aircraft Make & Model:
Boeing 777-232
MTOW:
545,000 lbs.
Range:
8,680 statute miles
Speed:
550 mph (880 kph)
Seats:
Length:
209 ft., 1 in.
Wingspan:
212 ft., 7 in.
Height:
61 ft., 4 in.
Engines:
HP or Thrust:
No. flown by DL:
18
RoutesFlown:
Advantages:
Drawbacks:
First Delivery:
March 23, 1999
First Scheduled Service:
May 1, 1999
Reason Aquired:
Designed for long-haul routes and business travel.
Last Retirement:
October 31, 2020
Reason Disposed:
Schedule reductions caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic accelerated plans to retire the 777.

Narrative:  Boeing 777 1999-2020


Technical Advances & Delivery

“The 777 has been a reliable part of Delta’s success since it joined the fleet in 1999 and because of its unique operating characteristics, opened new non-stop, ultra-long-haul markets that only it could fly at that time.” Gil West, Chief Operating Officer, May 2020.

Delta's 777-232 was "designed for the long-haul traveler," offering industry-leading customer service in 1999: 2x2x2 seating in BusinessElite, and personal in-seat videos, adjustable footrests, headrests and lumbar support in Economy Class.

Safety features included satellite communications, Global Positioning System, Predictive Windshear and Collision Avoidance Systems, and Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System.

Delta welcomed its first two Boeing 777s in March 1999: Ship 7001 on March 23, and Ship 7002 on March 29. See the news release.

Inaugural
Both Boeing 777s went into scheduled service on May 1, 1999. Ship 7001 took off first from Atlanta to London—Gatwick. Service extended to Cincinnati—London and Atlanta—Frankfurt routes later that year.

Suspended Service & Deliveries
On June 11, 1999, Delta announced it was delaying further deliveries of the 777 due to ongoing pilot contract negotiations over pay rates and work rules for the 777. Delta suspended 777 service on November 1, 1999, the pilot labor contract agreement was ratified on November 29, 1999, and Delta resumed 777 service on December 1.
 
Deliveries of 777s soon followed. Ship 7006 arrived on December 07, 1999. Four more 777s (Ships 7004-7005 & 7007) were also delivered that month. Ship 7008 was delivered to Delta on March 15, 2002.

 

Ship 7005 Celebrates 2002 Olympic Games
Delta was named Official Airline of the 2002 Olympic Games and painted several aircraft in commemorative livery. Ship 7005 (N864DA) was christened The Soaring Spirit II and sported a special design featuring images of Olympic Gold Medalist Bonnie Blair and Olympic athletes Duncan Kennedy and Ryan Heckman.

The Soaring Spirit II carried the Olympic Flame from its home in Athens, Greece, to North America. It then operated twice-daily New York (JFK)-Salt Lake City charter flights for the duration of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

Long-Range 777s Arrive

Delta was the first U.S. carrier to take delivery of the Boeing 777-200LR, the world's longest-range commercial airplane, in 2008. With this new plane, Delta bolstered its international expansion with the ability to connect virtually any two city pairs around the globe nonstop, including Atlanta – Johannesburg, Los Angeles – Sydney, and other long-haul destinations. 

The Boeing 777-200LR had a range of 8,800 miles and carried 15 crew members and 276 passengers. With lie-flat seats in business class, slimline seats in coach, and a new entertainment system, Delta's 777-232LR set a new standard for international travel among U.S. carriers.

There were 44 fully horizontal personal sleeper suites in the BusinessElite section in 2008, featuring:

  • A reclining seat that adjusts to multiple comfortable positions, including a completely flat surface offering travelers a 6-foot 3-inch bed;
  • A privacy screen incorporating pull out meal table, fold-out video monitor, integrated footrest and personal stowage compartment for bags, shoes or blankets; and
  • Immediate access to the aisle so customers don't have to disturb another passenger when exiting their seat
Ship 7101: The Delta Spirit

Delta's first 777-232LR—Ship 7101 (N701DN)—was delivered on February 29, 2008, at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington. See the news release.

On March 6, at a ceremony in the Delta Technical Operations Center in Atlanta, Ship 7101 was christened "The Delta Spirit" in recognition of Delta employees worldwide. The name also honored The Spirit of Delta, a Boeing 767-200 purchased by employees as a gift to Delta in 1982.

The Delta Spirit entered scheduled service on March 8, 2008, with a flight from Atlanta, to Los Angeles, California. It's first international flight was from Atlanta to Tokyo, Japan, on March 9, 2008.

Ship 7108: David C. Garrett
Kicking off a week of celebrations commemorating 80 years of Delta passenger service, Delta dedicated a long-range 777 to former CEO David C. Garrett on June 10, 2009. Garrett had served as Delta's CEO from 1978 to 1987.

Ship 7108 David C. Garrett went into service between Atlanta and Mumbai on June 11, 2009. The following month, it flew Delta's inaugural flight to Sydney, Australia, on July 1.

Ship 7102: The Spirit of Atlanta
In January 2011, Delta celebrated 70 years as Atlanta's hometown airline by christening Boeing 777-200LR, N702DN, "The Spirit of Atlanta" with a virtual bottle of Coca-Cola. Delta's close ties with the city date back to 1941, when the airline moved its headquarters to Atlanta. See the news release.

777 Reconfiguration
After 10 years and millions of miles logged, Delta decided to reconfigure its 777s to further invest in the international customer experience. The reconfigured aircraft, featuring Delta One Suite all-suite business class and Premium Select international economy class, made its debut in 2018. Delta spent about $100 million retrofitting all 18 aircraft in the 777 fleet, which at the time were flying long-haul routes between the U.S. and Sydney, Shanghai, Johannesburg and Mumbai.

COVID-19 and 777 Fleet Retirement
With schedule and cost reductions during the COVID-19 global pandemic, Delta decided to retire the 777 by the end of 2020, in order to “accelerate the airline’s strategy to simplify and modernize its fleet while continuing to operate newer, more cost-efficient aircraft.” See the news release.

"Even amid the biggest crisis in airline history, Delta’s 777s continued to serve a critical role. In August, Delta became the first U.S. airline to fly with cargo on the main deck of the aircraft by removing the seats of a 777-220ER, thus enabling more than 10,000 pounds of additional cargo capacity – an increase of more than 35% more weight per flight. The cargo carried included medical and PPE equipment, pharmaceuticals, home office supplies, U.S. mail and food." See the news release.

“The 777 was a workhorse in helping Delta become the premium carrier for business travel, and it undoubtedly set the bar for our position in international markets. Even in its final months, the 777 generated revenue for Delta while supporting our greater purpose of ‘people over profits’ by providing critical supplies to our communities.” John Laughter, Senior Vice President and Chief of Operations, October 2020

The final flights were:

  • Flight DL8787 from Atlanta to Los Angeles on October 30, 2020.
  • Flight DL8777 from New York-JFK to Los Angeles on October 31, 2020.
More Information
  • Delta's 777 Fleet List:  Ship, registration and serial numbers and engine type for each aircraft as of September 1, 2013 
  • Delta News Release: "Delta Takes Delivery of First Boeing 777," March 24, 1999
  • Delta News Release: "Delta’s 777 Aircraft to Retire by End of 2020, Simplifying Widebody Fleet amid COVID-19," May 14, 2020
  • Delta News Release: "777’s Power and Comfort Boosted Delta’s Global Ambitions," October 29, 2020
  • Delta.com: 777-200ER seat map
  • Delta.com: 777-200LR seat map
  • Flickr: Delta 777-232LR interior and exterior photos
  • Boeing.comDevelopment and specifications of the 777
Pictures
  • boeing_777_delta_spirit
  • Loading cargo into Boeing 777, 2009
  • Boeing 777
  • boeing_777LR_interior
  • Boeing 777 New livery
  • boeing_777_dave_garrett
  • Boeing 777 landing 1999
  • boeing_777
  • boeing_777_olympics
Videos
  • Building The Delta 777-200
  • Delta Air Lines "The Spirit of Atlanta" 777-200LR Landing and Takeoff