After years of design, testing and multiple delays, as a result of engine difficulties, Boeing has announced that the maiden flight of the 777X is scheduled to take place on the 23rd of January; providing weather and final checks go to plan.

According to Boeing, the aircraft will depart Paine Field at 10:00 Seattle time, depending on conditions, and will remain in the air until 15:00, where it will perform a landing at Boeing’s delivery centre at Boeing Field, Seattle.

The maiden flight of the 777X is a significant milestone for Boeing, it will likely allow for certification and deliveries to occur in 2021. Boeing originally planned to fly the aircraft in 2019 and begin deliveries in 2020, however an engine problem, identified in the General Electric GE9X engines, forced the company to delay flight test campaign plans.

Although the 777X has not flown yet, the engines that power it have. During testing General Electric mounted a GE9X engine onto a Boeing 747 test bed, to assess its performance in various flight conditions.

As well as recording impressive performance, General Electric and Guinness World Records together partnered to celebrate the GE9X; as the world’s most powerful jet engine, at 134,300 pounds of thrust.

Launched at the Dubai Airshow in 2013 the Boeing 777X family comprises of two variants: the 777-8 and the 777-9, with the latter being the most popular and the largest of the two.

Featuring new wings, that including folding wing tips, the 777X is Boeing’s answer to the Airbus A350; with the manufacturer claiming 10 percent lower operating costs than the A350-1000, thanks to better aerodynamics and engine technology.

The Boeing 777-9 can seat up to 426 passengers in a two class configuration, which results in a range of 7,285 nautical miles (13,500 km) depending on other performance factors. The smaller 777-8 can seat 384 passengers in the same two class configuration, however with a longer range of up to 8,730 nautical miles (16,170 km).

Boeing has set $442.2 million as the list price for the 777-9, however sales have been relatively slow. According to Boeing data, only 309 firm orders have been recorded; with 777-8 sales being so poor that the company elected to shelve its development until a later, undisclosed date.

Despite this, industry analysts suggest more orders could be received by the middle of this decade; since most airlines today have already completed aircraft purchases required for the first round of replacement.

UPDATE:

Taxi tests have been cancelled, potentially delaying the maiden flight:

BoardingArea