Boeing recently completed its first test flight of the new 777X aircraft. The aircraft took off in Everett, Washington, and then made a four-hour journey around Washington State before landing in Seattle.
The largest twin engine airliner in the world, the aircraft is reportedly “awesome,” according to the test pilot. But what’s really new with the 777x ? And can it possibly save Boeing from its continuing troubles surrounding the MAX 737?
New Wings (And Foldable Wingtips)
One of the highlighted features of the 777x, which is expected to be delivered to airlines next year, is the foldable wingtips. These make up for the new, carbon wings’ massive width. The wingtips fold while the aircraft is on the ground. Then, the pilot extends them before takeoff, increasing the wingspan from 212 feet (similar to what you see on previous 777 aircraft) to 235 feet. The increased wing size in flight improves aerodynamics, but the folding wingtips mean that the aircraft can still park easily in airlines’ current gates.
The 777x’s GE9X engines are the largest jet engines ever built. However, despite the huge size, the 777x will use 10 percent less fuel, produce 10 percent less emissions and offer 10 percent lower operating costs for airlines. The GE9X engines are the most fuel-efficient jet engine ever produced by GE Aviation on a per-pounds-of-thrust basis. Additionally, the engine is the quietest ever produced by GE. The aircraft will have a range of 8,383 nautical miles.
Cabin Updates and a New Passenger Experience
The twin-aisle cabins on the 777x will be based off the previous cabins seen in Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliner aircraft, but four inches wider in size (due to reduced wall thickness) and with 16 percent larger windows. Windows will also be higher up by several inches, to allow for more light in the cabins. Business-class cabins come with the option for mechanical window shades and dimmable windows. Those features, though, will be up to the individual airlines purchasing the aircraft, of course.
Concave overhead bins allow for more headspace. Boeing also created the overhead bins to be easier to close, requiring, according to the manufacturer, 40 percent less effort. Boeing and GE also report the aircraft will deliver a quieter flying experience.
There are going to be two 777X variants, a 777-8X and 777-9X. The former will be able to fit approximately 375 travelers, while the latter will be able to fit approximately 425 passengers.
Where Can You See the 777X in the Future?
Current 777X customers include All Nippon Airways, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines. Emirates will receive the very first 777X. There are more than 300 total orders for the aircraft thus far, with the majority of those being from the Middle East-based airlines in the list above. But, orders have declined over the last year, with no new orders placed for the aircraft since March 2019. It is important to note that no US airlines have signaled an intent to purchase the massive jet yet either.
Experts expect the buyers will introduce new first- and business-class products on the aircraft, including Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.
Of course, Boeing will likely be under intense scrutiny as it tests and pushes out the 777X, to ensure there’s no repeat of the 737 MAX tragedies, particularly in light of leaked Boeing communications revealing less than stellar conduct. Additionally, Boeing did have some testing issues with the 777X, including a failed stress test and issues with GE’s new, largest-ever engine; Boeing partially hid details of the failed stress test.
However, for airlines looking for large jets, the 777X will soon be in a class of its own. Airbus is winding down the A380 program and not taking any additional orders. Boeing only builds the 747 in a freighter variant. And while the Airbus A350xwb is an option, it is similar in size to the 787-10 and 777-200 aircraft. When it finally rolls out, the 777-9X will be the largest commercial jet available.