January 25th 2019 – After two days of delays due to poor weather the Boeing 777X has successfully performed her maiden flight, kick starting the flight test campaign.
Departing Seattle at 10:09 local time the aircraft, registered N779XW, remained in the air until 14:00, then gracefully touched down in front of Boeing employees and invited media.
“The 777X flew beautifully, and today’s testing was very productive. Thank you to all the teams who made today possible. I can’t wait to go fly your airplane again”Capt. Van Chaney, 777/777X chief pilot for Boeing Test & Evaluation
“Today’s safe first flight of the 777X is a tribute to the years of hard work and dedication from our teammates, our suppliers and our community partners in Washington state and across the globe.”Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes
On 25 Jan 2020, at 10:09 am @BoeingAirplanes B777-9, experimental ship 001, N779XW took off for the first time! Congratulations to Boeing and it’s program partners! (Video footage from Boeing and KING) #777x #boeing777x pic.twitter.com/vq6IxA1121— Sam Chui (@SamChuiPhotos) January 25, 2020
Congratulations to our customers and #777X team on today’s safe and successful flight, the first of many for the 777X as we continue our rigorous test program.— Boeing Airplanes (@BoeingAirplanes) January 25, 2020
Continue the journey with us, signup for updates here: https://t.co/n7t9Os5Q6Y pic.twitter.com/rawf73V6x5
During deceleration the folding wingtips could be seen retracting, signalling the end to what appeared to be a positive flight. With the aircraft shut down and the pilots now exited it was time for an arrival ceremony, where it was revealed the flight went smoothly and the aircraft was ready to be tested.
As well as the expected media attention, and aviation enthusiast excitement, Boeing also received a congratulations from Airbus, who is marketing their A350 Family against the 777X.
Boeing originally aimed to have the aircraft fly in 2019, however General Electric GE9X engine problems, and a last minute cargo door explosion, led to a delayed program. Despite this, Boeing is still hopeful that the aircraft will complete its flight test campaign and receive certification in 2021.
The maiden flight is seen as a significant visual and moral boost for Boeing, who has been dealing with an ongoing crisis surrounding their 737 MAX. It is hoped that the progression of the 777X program can help bring the company out of the shadows and back into positive light.
As of the 31st of December 2019, Boeing has received 309 firm orders for the 777X. Emirates has the largest order, with 115 aircraft expected to join their fleet to replace their existing 777s and some A380s.
Despite Boeing and Airbus aggressively marketing their latest widebody aircraft to airlines, signalling the progression away from large quad engine aircraft, worry still hangs over the manufacturers, following a slow down in widebody orders.
Whilst Boeing intends to build and test the smallest 777X variant, the 777-8, the company made the decision last year to shelve development of the type, until an undisclosed time.
Boeing lists the aircraft with the following specifications.
|GE9X Engine Thrust (pounds)||105,000||105,000|
|Max Takeoff Weight (tonnes)||351.5||351.5|
|Range (nautical miles)||8,730||7,300|
|Seating (two class)||384||426|
|List Price (USD)||$410.2 million||$442.2 million|
Building off the success of the original 777, the aircraft features a highly advanced composite wing that folds at the wing tips to fit into existing gate spaces. Additionally the refined aerodynamics across the aircraft, and the enormous engines, contribute to fuel savings of up to 10 percent better than the competition, according to Boeing.
The fuselage, whilst the same as the existing 777, has been sculptured differently, meaning that the cabin is 10 centimetres wider; literally consuming the competition.
Boeing expects to deliver the first 777X in 2021. Flight Global says Boeing has delivered 1,479 777s since they handed over the first aircraft to United Airlines in 1995. Will the 777X continue its success? What are your thoughts?