By Scott Hamilton
Jan. 25, 2020, © Leeham News: The third time was the charm.
After being rained out Thursday and scrubbing the first flight Friday due to high winds, Boeing successfully launched the 777X into the air Saturday for its first flight.
The flight left Everett (WA) Paine Field, where the 777 has been produced since the program began in the early 1990s.
After an uneventful couple of hours circling over central Washington State, the 777-9 landed at Boeing Field south of downtown Seattle. Test pilots reported solid controls and flying characteristics.
The 777-9 becomes Boeing’s largest in-production airliner now that the 747-8I is no longer produced. The 747-8 lives on, for the time being, as a freighter aircraft. But its days are number, with production likely to end in 2022. There are just 17 747-8Fs in backlog; Boeing is assembling these are the rate of six per year.
The 777X comes in two family members: the -8 Ultra Long Range model seating nominally 384 passengers; and the -9, seating nominally 426 passengers. The advertised range for the -8 is up to 8,730nm. The range for the -9 is 7,295 nm.
The -8 development has been put on hold for at least two years. The -9 is already a year behind planned entry into service, now slated for 2021. The new certification process, acknowledge by Boeing CEO David Calhoun last week, threatens to delay EIS for an undetermined period.
Boeing says the 777X is 13% more efficient than the 777-300ER. The newly designed GE Aviation GE9X engines provide 12% better fuel economy, Boeing says. The 777-9 carriers about 50 more passengers in standard configuration. It is equipped with a new, composite wing that have commercial aviation’s first folding wing tips.
The cockpit design for the 787 migrates to the X, providing greater pilot commonality between the two airplanes.
Larger windows and a slightly wider cabin are aimed for better passenger experience. Boeing also designed the airplane to have higher humidity and maintain a lower cabin altitude than on the -300ER, all for greater passenger comfort.