MIAMI — Following numerous setbacks, including an Entry into Service (EIS) delay from mid-2020 to late 2021, the Boeing 777X was scheduled to finally take to the skies on January 23, 2020, but this has now been delayed due to poor weather and low visibility in the Puget Sound region.
It has become a tradition that Boeing’s first flights are plagued by poor weather as was the case with the first 787 flights in December 2009 and the first 737 MAX flights in January 2016.
But this time, Boeing was no match for Mother Nature. According to a Boeing spokesman, “We are postponing the 777X first flight that was scheduled to take place tomorrow, Jan. 23, due to weather. The team is currently assessing the possibility of flying on Friday, January 24 and will notify you as soon as we have a new date.”
Once it is cleared to fly, the plane will depart from Paine Field Airport (PAE), in Everett, Washington, from where Airways will provide live coverage with our managing editor/senior partner Chris Sloan along with Publisher Enrique Perrella.
Boeing released a note stating that the plane is due to take off on its maiden flight at around 10:00PST. It will remain airborne for around five hours, before landing aback around 15:00PST.
Today, the plane was spotted in PAE performing slow speed taxi tests. The foldable wingtips were also seen as being retracted and deployed.
Boeing plans to broadcast the first takeoff and landing on its website.
Delayed Program Takes To The Skies
Boeing launched the 777X program at the Dubai Airshow in 2013, receiving the most launch orders for a commercial aircraft in history.
The jet has scored 340 orders from numerous carriers, among which Middle Eastern giants Emirates and Qatar Airways are prominent buyers.
Emirates firmed an order for 150 Boeing 777X wide-body aircraft in July 2014.
The order had been originally inked at the Dubai Air Show in 2013, where, as part of the official launch of the re-engined 777X program, Emirates placed 150 “commitments” for the 777X, including 115 for the 777-9X and 35 for the smaller 777-8X.
Lufthansa, however, is set to become the launch customer for the aircraft in 2021 when it takes delivery of the first 777X.
In 2019, the plane was supposed to take off on its maiden flight, though numerous problems with the brand-new GE9X engines delayed Boeing’s timeline, forcing it to push the flight until tomorrow.
In addition to the engine’s woes, the plane also suffered a fuselage issue during a fuselage pressure and strength test.
Tomorrow, however, the important milestone of getting the plane up in the air should happen if the Pacific Northwest weather cooperates.
Look Out: The Longest Commercial Aviation Plane
Back in September, the manufacturer wowed the world with the rollout of the first 777X testbed vehicle, which is a non-flying airframe that will go through one year of static testing on the ground before further testbeds are allowed in the skies.
The first 777X to enter commercial service will be the 777-9 model, capable of sitting up to 425 passengers. The plane is designed to fly up to 7,600 nautical miles on one tank.
“The 777X is a new airplane and a new production system,” said Josh Binder, vice president, and general manager of the 777X.
“With the 777X, the production system was integrated into the development program sooner than any other airplane, and the team is doing a great job of hitting our milestones as expected,” he added.
A Long Way Since
The new 777X is about to become the longest commercial passenger plane ever seen, measuring 252 ft (77 m), also sporting two of the world’s biggest engines by diameter, the General Electric GE9X.
The airplane’s wingspan, boosted by the world’s largest folding wingtips, will measure 235 feet (72 meters), almost the same as the airplane’s length.
The first foldable wingtip was unveiled to the world in late-September 2018, which was later installed on the wing of the first testbed WH001.
Boeing launched the manufacturing process of the new 777 variant in October 2017. 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.
“It’s going to set a new bar for commercial aviation,” said Jason Clarke, VP of the Boeing 777/777X program at the time of the inauguration.
Stay tuned to Airwaysmag.com and our social media feeds for live coverage of the maiden flight tomorrow, starting 12:00EST.