Boeing 777X Delayed Due To Engine Problems

Filed Under: Misc.

It goes without saying that Boeing is having a rough year. The 737 MAX has been grounded since March, with no end in sight for the grounding. While they hope to have the next software fix completed by September, it’s anyone’s guess if more problems will be found, and also how long it will take for the plane to be certified again, not just by the FAA, but also by regulators globally.

One of Boeing’s other big projects is the 777X, which is the evolution of the 777. Airlines have about 325 of these planes on order, split between the 777-8 and 777-9 variant.

Most notably, Emirates has 150 of these planes on order (though there are rumors of them reconsidering the order), Qatar has 60 of these planes on order, while British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa, and Singapore Airlines, each have somewhere around 20 of these planes on order.

Initially the plane was supposed to undergo its first test flight in June 2019, though that timeline has been pushed back. Yesterday Boeing revealed their second quarter results, and during this Boeing confirmed that the first flight for the 777X has been pushed back to early 2020.

While Boeing says that they are still targeting late 2020 for the first delivery of the 777X, “there is significant risk to this schedule given engine challenges.”

It sure seems unlikely that the plane’s first flight would be delayed by over half a year without any impact on when the plane enters service, so I’d guess that at this point Boeing is just being optimistic.

Lufthansa is scheduled to be the launch customer for the plane. Go figure the first plane to feature their new business class will also be the 777X, so it’s safe to say that the introduction of this new product may be delayed as well.

So, what’s the problem with the 777X? It actually involves the General Electric engine on the plane, which is the GE9X. This is the largest engine ever on a commercial plane, and apparently it’s having durability problems. While this is delaying certification of the plane, we’ll have to see just how long that takes.

As you can imagine, there’s also a chance that timeline will be pushed back as well.

It sure is a rough period for the 737 MAX and 777X…

Comments
  1. Am I the only person worried about these folding wings going wrong during high altitude flight or when landing?

  2. @criced, I thought it was hanging on their pecuniary deliveries (to Skytrax)! 🙂

    @Frederik, I get your feeling, but I keep thinking that fighter planes have been using folding wings for 70+ years, and they put quite a more stress on their planes in the military!

  3. @Frederik – Yes. Navy planes have had folding wings for decades, and if an F-18 can do what it does at high speeds and even higher g-forces with folding wings then i’m sure a 6′ portion on the end of a 100′ wing will be just fine.

  4. Yeah. Folding wings are not new. The US Navy has used them since forever, and still does. The safety issues are well-understood. The are only new to commercial aircraft.

  5. Then like fighter pilots have, I expect ejector seats, just in case we have another Max style design failure.

    Do you know how crazy it sounds to copy unstable fighter planes (new 737) and bending wings (new 777) in commercial aviation?

  6. @People worried about the “folding wing”

    It’s not a folding wing. It’s a folding wingtip device, like the winglets that are on all planes right now. The plane doesn’t need them. It can fly with them folded up or missing with no problem. It’s just there for increased efficiency.

  7. After Boeing’s last two planes (787 and 737MAX) face fleetwide groundings, I can’t help but wonder what issues the 777X will have.

  8. Headline says 777 delayed due to engine problems. Headline is repeated at the very bottom the post. No other details provided. But you have to read a bunch of other statements that are inconsequential to the click baity title. Seriously?

  9. @alex is correct but people can argue. 777x won’t have winglets like A320 or B737-900.
    It has hinged wingtips (measure 12 feet), with locking pins to prevent them from folding during flight.
    When it’s up/folded, it does look like winglets.

  10. The folding wing on the 777X is intended to allow it to park in smaller gates in order to reduce gate costs for airlines as larger gates cost more. They’re small sections of a huge wing. The plane is intended to fly with them folded down, which creates a raked wingtip similar to the current 787, 777 and 767-400ER. This allows for greater wingspan and efficiency in flight and better gate utilization on the ground. The plane will also be totally fine if for some really strange reason a bunch of things fail and the wingtips fold up or fall off during flight. Perfectly airworthy without them. The engine issues are the Real concern for the plane and those issues are on GE for not building a proper engine.

  11. More airlines should have been buying the 748. They want capacity. 748 and A380 are being discontinued as the demand for air travel increases.

  12. Engine problem, interesting.
    Last time engine delayed a launch was L-1011, that didn’t turn out well. Lockheed went out of commercial aviation even they had a better jet that DC-10.

  13. Both Boeing and Airbus have relied mainly on advances in (turbofan) engines to provide improvements in fuel economy. GE, Pratt & Whitney, and Rolls Royce have had to take large technological risks/leaps (e.g. Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan), which often results in delays.

  14. Usually well read, Lucky, you have missed out on a significant design change, which IMHO is par for Boeing’s course.
    The original design of these jets incorporated a swing wing tip, to achieve sufficient wing area but not to exceed the envelope (invented by Boeing, incidentally after the 747, presumably to prevent other manufacturers building a larger plane which needed bigger wingspan, clever Airbus wing design beat this, btw).
    Puts me in mind of the swing wing 300 seater supersonic plane that successfully, initially, outsold, and effectively killed off, Concorde and never left the drawing board, let alone the runway.
    Are we seeing the same eagerness to trash the competition with ambitious, and clearly impaired design features. I hope Emirates as well as others, wake up in time not to be a partner, nor a victim of another 737m situation.
    777x -v- a350-9
    737m -v- a321

  15. Better to fix the durability issues now than later like the T1000 or PW GTF. I’m interested to have them finally disclose fuel burn stats and after testing how they are relative to initial targets. If it becomes the next -300ER beating estimates it will be a sure market winner.

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