SEATTLE — Boeing celebrated the official launch of the manufacturing process of its newest Triple Seven variant, the 777X.

A laser-guided robotic arm drilled a tiny hole into the carbon fiber surface of a 105-foot long wing spar and then inserted the very first wing fastener.

PHOTO: Brandon Farris

The 777X’s wing will be the first of its kind. It will become the biggest all-composite wing ever built, which will make the new Triple Seven much lighter and the most efficient of its preceding siblings, the 777-200/-200(ER)/-200(LR)/-300/-300(ER).

According to Boeing, the new robot-made composite wing’s long span and more efficient airfoil will help lower fuel and lift capabilities.

The new wings will also come with a unique feature. Terry Beezhold, 777X Chief Project Manager, highlighted the all-new folding wingtips, which will guarantee that the 777X will fit into the current parking spots of the 777-300ER at airports across the globe.

“It’s going to set a new bar for commercial aviation,” Vice President of the Boeing 777/777X operations, Jason Clarke, told his employees and media who witnessed the historic event.

“We’re pushing the boundaries to where they’ve never been before,” he added. This wing fastener will be part of the first Boeing 777X.

PHOTO: Brandon Farris

Since the launch of the 777X in 2013 at the Paris Air Show, 360 aircraft have been ordered by seven customers.

Singapore Airlines announced a breaking order for 20 777X earlier in the day, whereas Emirates had already ordered 150, Qatar Airways 60, Lufthansa 34, Etihad 25, Cathy Pacific 21, and ANA 20. Only ten 777X orders remain unidentified at this time.

Boeing offers two variants of the 777X to its customers: the 777-8, which comes with a capacity of 350-375 passengers and a range of 8,700 nautical miles; and the 777-9, which will carry 400-425 passengers and fly 7,600 nautical miles.

Current list prices of both 777-8 and 777-9 variants are $350.5 million and $388.7 million, respectively.

Boeing expects to complete final assembly and rollout of the first 777X at some point in 2018. Flight testing should kick off in 2019 with first delivery to launch customer Emirates in 2020.

Terry Beezhold ensured that “the aircraft is on track to meet all of its deadlines.” Beezhold previously worked on the Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner program, which experienced its fair shares of delays.

Similar to the Boeing 777-300(ER) and 777-200(LR), only one engine option will be available for customers with the General Electric GE9X.

Even though the GE9X will be the largest engine ever offered on an airplane by diameter size, it comes with only 105,000 pounds of thrust, which is less than the current GE90 model. However, it will be more efficient thanks to its lighter parts.

Concerning Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW), Boeing is still able to offer the same as the 777-300(ER) at 775,000lbs.

A critical milestone for the 777X program—especially when compared to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner—is that the vast majority of the aircraft’s parts are being manufactured and built in Everett, Washington.


PHOTO: Brandon Farris

According to Boeing, this should help with the efficiency of the supply chain, which will ensure that the program remains on track.

Robots will mostly build the new 777X. Boeing claims that by using robots to do some of the heavier manufacturing, it would keep engineers and designers safe as they sit behind computers and have fewer chances of being injured.