Boeing 777X: Airborn at last!
After a couple of delays due to weather conditions, the new Boeing 777X jet took to the air at Paine Field in Everett, Washington state, on 25 January 2020 (26 January in Australia) at 10:06 local time.
Don’t get too excited, this is not the launch of commercial flights. This is the launch of its flight test program!
The 777x could be described as a bit of a mongrel. It is based on the very successful 777 family, but takes some of the innovations of the 787 Dreamliner, and puts them together with a new GE9X engine, supplied by GE Aviation. And it ties that up with a bow and ads a folding (cocked) wing tip! Because its wingspan is sooooooo wide, it wouldn’t fit in standard airport slots.
It’s a popular little poppet with 340 orders and commitments by an initial 8 airlines, some viewing it as a replacement for the A380. Launch customers are:
- All Nippon Airways
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Etihad Airways
- Qatar Airways
- Singapore Airlines
The new jetliner has Boeing promising 10% lower fuel use/emissions/operating costs than the ‘competition’ by which they mean Airbus 350 family, presumably.
The reductions are the result of improved aerodynamics, carbon-fibre composite wing, and the new Engine.
Boeing also promises a wider body, larger overhead bins and windows, and of course better cabin pressure, humidity and noise.
The model is scheduled for delivery to customers in 2021. Given that the 737 Max disaster is sucking various engineering, testing and software resources at Boeing, and this has resulted in delays in the testing program for the 777x and for the 737 Max getting back in the air, I would take that 2021 promise with a grain of salt. Regulators will be giving the testing program a very close look – I presume.
I’m not a particular fan of the 777, but the ‘x’ may change my opinion.
What I am most excited about is that this will spur the launch airlines into some interior innovations which we will probably see most significantly in premium cabins.
Bring it on!