Boeing has had a very rough year, so it’s nice to see that something at least went smoothly for them.
Boeing 777X Completes First Test Flight
Several days ago I wrote about how the brand new Boeing 777X was supposed to complete its first test flight in the coming days, and that did indeed happen on Saturday.
This was first supposed to happen on Thursday, and then on Friday, but it got postponed both days. The reason was because of the weather, and in particular because the plane could only take off with a maximum of 10 knot winds.
Don’t worry, that’s not a long-term restriction, but rather the limit was because the plane had to take off in the “wrong” direction of the runway based on winds, so that it could avoid populated areas. This was because it was the first-ever flight for the aircraft type.
The weather finally cooperated yesterday, as the Boeing 777X completed a 3hr51min flight, as it took off from Everett Paine Field and flew over Washington state, before landing at Seattle’s Boeing Field.
During the flight, the crew worked through a detailed test plan to exercise the airplane’s systems and structures.
Boeing will have four dedicated 777-9 test airplanes. The first one will now undergo checks, and then will resume further tests in the coming days.
The plan is for the first 777X to be delivered to airline customers in 2021.
The Folding Wingtips Are So Cool
The 777X is an evolution of previous versions of the 777, though there’s one feature that visually makes the plane so cool.
The Boeing 777X has folding wingtips — on the ground the wingtips can be “folded” up to minimize the wingspan of the plane, and then before takeoff they can be extended, in order to improve performance.
Why does Boeing have folding wingtips? Because the Boeing 777X has a massive wingspan.
With the wingtips folded up, the wingspan is 212ft8in (64.8m), which is roughly the same wingspan as previous versions of the 777. This means that it can park at all the same gates as other 777s.
However, once extended, the plane has a wingspan of 235ft5min (71.8m), which is huge, and improves the aerodynamics.
The folding wingtips allows the 777X to basically operate at all the airports where other versions of the 777 could operate.
The Real Reason I’m Excited About The 777X
To me the 777X as such isn’t that exciting. The plane is certainly cool-looking, but for the most part it’s not really incrementally that innovative compared to the 787 or A350. Yes, it’s a bit bigger, but in many cases that’s not even what airlines are looking for nowadays.
The real reason I’m excited about the 777X is because many airlines will be using this as their new flagship aircraft, so we should see this plane used to introduce great new first and business class products.
In many ways, airlines have been lazy with the first and business class products they’ve installed on A350s and 787s. Most of them haven’t had first class at all, and a surprising number of airlines didn’t use these planes as an opportunity to truly innovate their onboard products.
The 777X should be a different story, as we’re seeing several airlines introduce exciting new products on these planes. Most notably, a vast majority of 777X customers will be installing first class seats on these planes.
Emirates 777X rendering
What products do we have to look forward to on the 777X?
- Emirates will be installing their new first class on the 777X, which is otherwise only available on fewer than a dozen 777-300ERs (unfortunately Emirates’ 777X business class is a disappointment)
- Cathay Pacific will be introducing an all new first & business class on the 777X, though they haven’t yet revealed the details
- Singapore Airlines is expected to debut a new first class on the 777X
- Lufthansa will be debuting their new business class on the 777X (yes, that business class product that won them a Skytrax award back in 2017)
Lufthansa’s new 777X business class
Congrats to Boeing on a successful first 777X flight. Here’s to hoping that the subsequent testing goes well, and that the plane isn’t delayed further with entry into service.
While the 777X in general should be a good plane for airlines, what’s most exciting to me as a passenger is the new first and business class products we’ll see installed on these planes.
Is there any airline you’re particularly looking forward to flying on the 777X?