Monday, 27 January 2020

It flies........................Boeing's latest jet gets off the ground.

The executives from the US aviation giant Boeing can breathe a heavy sigh of relief this week after a successful weekend in which their latest jet,  the Boeing 777X completed its first test flight favourably. 

The new 777X jetliner took to the skies over the weekend, kicking off the first phase of what is said to be a 'rigorous' test programme.   The American company are hoping to avoid all the troubles and tribulations they've had with the 737 Max 8 aircraft.  The fact that this new jet is closely based on the popular 777  with proven technologies from the 787 Dreamliner should ensure a smooth flight test programme.  

For the first flight, the 777X took off in front of thousands of spectators, reporters and staff at Paine Field in Everett, Washington, at 10:09 am local time on Saturday for a three hour, 51-minute flight over Washington state before landing at Seattle's Boeing Field.

"The 777X flew beautifully, and today's testing was very productive," said Capt. Van Chaney, 777/777X chief pilot for Boeing Test & Evaluation. "Thank you to all the teams who made today possible. I can't wait to go fly your aeroplane again."

Capt. Chaney and Boeing Chief Pilot Craig Bomben worked through a detailed test plan to exercise the aeroplane's systems and structures while the test team in Seattle monitored the data in real-time.

"Our Boeing team has taken the most successful twin-aisle jet of all time and made it even more efficient, more capable and more comfortable for all," said Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "Today's safe first flight of the 777X is a tribute to the years of hard work and dedication from our teammates, our suppliers and our community partners in Washington state and across the globe."

Some commentators remarked that the take off wasn't exactly textbook, as part of the main gear lifted off the runway before the nose gear, but that wasn't any great cause for concern at this stage.  Previously Boeing had hoped to bypass much of the in-depth airworthiness certification process by keeping it all inhouse,  however, following the revelations after the two deadly crashes of 737 Max aircraft, that will no longer be possible.  The US Federal Aviation Administration has pledged to ensure the 777X review is conducted rigorously, while launch customer, the Dubai based Emirates has said it wants the aircraft to be put through “hell on Earth” in the testing programme to ensure it is safe and meets performance expectations.

Boeing has said it expects to deliver the first 777X in 2021, although,  that might slip slightly as global regulators are taking a tougher stance on regulatory compliance these days. The firm says it has orders from the likes of  ANA, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines for a total of over 330 aircraft. However, industry insiders have poured scorn on this figure, saying that most of those orders and letters of intent came before the two crashes of 737 Max aircraft and before the big gulf carriers started to scale back on new aircraft orders and deliveries. 

777X  basic info
Seat Count:                             777-8: 384 passengers
(typical 2-class)                       777-9: 426 passengers

Engine:                                    GE9X, supplied by GE Aviation

Range:                                    777-8: 8,730 nautical miles (16,170 km)
                                                777-9: 7,285 nautical miles (13,500 km)

Wingspan:                               Extended: 235 ft, 5 in. (71.8 m)
                                                 On ground: 212 ft, 8 in (64.8 m)

Length:                                   777-8: 229 ft (69.8 m)
                                                777-9: 251 ft, 9 in (76.7 m)    

The new 777X also combines the best of the passenger-preferred 777 and 787 Dreamliner cabins with innovations such as a wide, spacious cabin, large overhead bins that close easily, larger windows for a view from every seat, better cabin altitude and humidity, less noise and a smoother ride. Other hallmarks include folding wingtips - which will allow it to use the same aircraft parking stands at airports as earlier models. Although it has the world’s largest commercial engines from General Electric, which are said to be wide enough to swallow a 737 MAX fuselage!  

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