|Boeing 777X completed first flight Photo: Boeing|
The aircraft took off from a Boeing production facility located north of Seattle and lasted for four hours. Though the first flight was scheduled for 23rd of January, two attempts were called off earlier due to weather factors.
Boeing 777X is the latest update of its best selling 777 series which first flew back in 1994. This new project is already behind schedule following number of technical problems. Order flow for the type is also in downturn forcing the manufacturer to trim production rates.
However, this first flight comes as the first attempt to boost its image and financial condition after its 737 MAX was grounded last year following two deadly crashes killing a total of 346 people on board.
The testbud with registration WH-001 is powered by the world’s largest commercial plane engine General Electric GE9X. The diameter of the engine is a whooping 11 feet.
|Boeing 777X showing its folding wingtips Photo: Boeing|
Boeing had planned to fly the first 777X last year after it was launched at the 2013 Dubai Air Show. But Boeing later pushed the deliveries back until next year, following problems with the new General Electric GE9X engines.
Dubai-based Emirates Airline is due to receive its first 777X, being the launch customer as stated earlier. Emirates is also the largest 777 operator and also has the most number of orders for the 777X.
As of now, Boeing has firm orders for a total of 309 aircraft from nine customers. Majority of the orders are from middle-east carriers. Each aircraft is of worth more than $442 million at list price.
The 777X will directly compete with the Airbus A350-1000 which seats about 360 passengers. Both aircraft competed head to head to win orders from Qantas for its Project Sunrise flights last year. Eventually, Qantas opted for the Airbus A350 over the 777X citing delays in the programme.
David Calhoun, Boeing’s new CEO said, “The certification process is a new one and it’s going to get applied to every next airplane, so we have a lot of planning to do around the 777X to make sure that we can accommodate a really thorough review and investigation.”
The aircraft is the largest twin-engine jet and has a wingspan of more than 235 feet featuring folding wingtips that reduce the width so that the plane can fit into all current airport taxiways and gates.
|Emirates will be the launch customer for 777X Photo: Boeing|
The 777X series is supposed to replace the aging four engined 747 and discontinued Airbus A380.
Boeing has trimmed the production of the existing 777 to around 3.5 aircraft a month and could further cut the production. Boeing also plans to cut production of the 787 Dreamliner from 14 to 12 aircraft per month later this year.