The largest aircraft in the world offered by only two engines, the Boeing 777X, took off on Saturday for the first time, after long months of delay and capricious weather in recent days. The new long haul of the American manufacturer took off from Paine Airfield, in Everett in the northwest of the United States before landing at Boeing Field, near Seattle.
« Yes! The take-off of the Boeing triple 7 X « , exclaimed Josh Green, a member of the aeronautical manufacturer’s communication team when the aircraft’s wheels came off the runway before rushing into the clouds, at 6.10 p.m.
The first Boeing #777X is in flight. After a few hours of flying, the jet will land at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington.
— Boeing Airplanes (@BoeingAirplanes) January 25, 2020
Shortly before, the pilots had deployed the tips of the wings – the winglets – so characteristic of this aircraft. These folding tips allow you to improve the lift in flight but fold up when the aircraft is on the ground to be able to serve a maximum of airports. The thrust of the two giant engines of the triple 7 X, manufactured by General Electric, then caused huge sprays of water on the runway before giving the plane enough speed to take off.
This inaugural flight, which lasted almost 4 hours, marks the start of a whole series of flight tests leading to the certification of the aircraft. Boeing was forced to postpone this flight Thursday and Friday due to the weather and especially the wind.
The inaugural flight of the 777X was originally scheduled for summer 2019 but had to be postponed due to problems with the new GE9X engine, manufactured by General Electric, and difficulties with the wings and software validation. The aircraft also encountered significant problems during pressurization tests, knowingly exceeding normal operating conditions to ensure the reliability of the equipment, last September.
This flight is very timely for Boeing, which absolutely needs good news. It is stuck in an unprecedented crisis since the close accident of two 737 MAX in October 2018 and March 2019, which killed 346 people. In addition to the serious crisis of confidence facing the American manufacturer, the MAX affair has an exorbitant cost. The bill currently stands at more than $ 9.2 billion, but analysts expect it to fly away.
The 777X, which can carry 384 to 426 passengers, has an order book of 340 units, mainly from seven major airlines, including Emirates, Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways. It is supposed to compete with the A350 of the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus. The first deliveries are not expected before « early 2021 », instead of mid-2020 as originally planned, as the test flight period is expected to be lengthened and the approval procedure deepened.
The 777X is supposed to consolidate Boeing’s dominance over Airbus in the long-haul, a position weakened by the imminent reduction in production rates for the 787 « Dreamliner », due to the lack of firm orders from China. According to the manufacturer’s website, the 777X has a range of 16,200 to 13,500 km depending on the configuration and the number of passengers on board and is extremely fuel-efficient.
A strong argument in these times of « fly shaming » and all-around savings for airlines. It costs between 410 and 442 million dollars at the list price, which is only very indicative and often exaggerated compared to the real price paid by customers.