I have no idea how you came up with the idea that the 777 is smaller then any DC-10 or 747 aircraft. Aside from the 747-400 and A340 it has the widest wing span and is currently the longest aircraft in Commercial service including the future A380 the only aircraft that will be longer will be the A340-600.
But since were talking about span not length here are some figures (meters):
Believe me when you are talking about gate classification the difference between a MD-11 and a DC10-30 compared to a 777 is huge and the impact on operations is unreal. And then you have to consider taxi distance, cat3, wieght restrictions, ground servicing placement, passenger bridges, etc. Infact if you ask anyone in the airport industry the 773 and A340-600 are a much bigger problem then the A380 and 747x. due to the fact they are replacing smaller a/c and are so much longer. I would love to see the folding wind design but even that can be a headache to pax bridge operations since most bridges (at least in Europe) contain over the wing connections for larger a/c. I always wondered how a fuel tank would operate is it disconnected in the middle or what happens when the wing folds? I think since airlines could really care less about the effect of new a/c on airport operations they would not consider sacraficing distance or paying more for the sake of making life easier for us at airport ops...
nice idea though,
"How Many Assholes we got on this ship?" - Lord Helmet