Boeing’s Bad Luck Continues As Winds Cancel First 777X Flight

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The Boeing 777X has been unable to take off from Paine Field today. Inclement weather has forced the US manufacturer to give up on the maiden flight, wisely prioritizing safety over sticking to a schedule. Hopes are high that there will be a round two tomorrow.

777X
The 777X has been unable to fly today. Photo: Boeing

Simple Flying was in attendance for the first flight of the 777X. Here are all the details:

The first flight takeoff

At 10:27 the 777X geared up for takeoff out of Paine Field. Seattle’s weather looked to be passable, after the first flight was previously postponed due to thunderstorms. After a magnificent taxi, the behemoth lined up on runway 34L.

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The crowds cheered as the folding wingtips lowered, and everyone thought it was time to wave off the huge aircraft. At one point, as many as 60,000 people were watching the livestream, on top of the seemingly hundreds gathered around Paine Field.

However, at that very moment, the heavens opened and the wind picked up immensely.

Due to the conditions, and Boeing wanting to ensure absolute safety for this first flight, the 777X held at the end of the runway for what seemed like an age, waiting for the weather to improve.

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Sadly, it never did. Boeing had a window of opportunity where the necessary permissions to operate the test flight were in place. After two hours of waiting patiently by the runway, Boeing finally had to admit defeat and call off the flight.

Boeing’s 777X is the next generation of the Boeing 777. Previously hampered by delays, this first flight for Boeing comes at the start of a year in which the American manufacturing giant hopes it can turn itself around.

What’s next?

The first flight is clearly ready and waiting to take off, and so there’s no reason for Boeing to postpone things any longer than is absolutely necessary. The problem is, they’ll need to get permission to undertake the test flight from Paine Field, which could be an issue if the airport is busy tomorrow.

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777X
We’ll have to wait to see this bird fly. Photo: Jay Singh / Simple Flying

You have to remember, Paine Field is a working airport. Numerous commercial airlines operate from there, therefore the airport needs to find a space where the 777X won’t be disrupting any scheduled flights. Boeing had planned the flight path of the 777X to go opposite the flow of traffic, so that it could get up and out of the flight paths as quickly as possible.

Plenty of other issues will need to be resolved before Boeing can attempt to fly its 777X again. However, hopes are high that the test will be rescheduled to tomorrow. Simple Flying will keep you posted.

What’s special about the 777X?

The Boeing 777X is the latest iteration of Boeing’s hugely successful 777 family. Arguably the aircraft’s coolest feature, at least from an aviation enthusiast’s perspective, is the folding wingtips that the aircraft is fitted with. These fold up at airports to cut the aircraft’s wingspan. They then fold back down before takeoff to restore the increased wingspan.

Boeing, 777X, First Flight, Folding Wingtips
The aircraft has folding wing-tips to save space on the ground. Photo: Boeing

As of the 31st of December 2019, 309 orders for the Boeing 777X have been received. According to the manufacturer, the customer with the most orders is currently Emirates. The UAE flag carrier has 115 aircraft on order. Other orders for the 777X are as follows:

  • Qatar Airways has 60 of the aircraft on order;
  • Etihad has 25 Boeing 777Xs on order;
  • Cathay Pacific has 21 firm orders;
  • All Nippon Airways is expecting 20 aircraft;
  • Singapore Airlines also has 20 firm orders;
  • British Airways is expecting 18 Boeing 777Xs, with further options.
Boeing 777x, First Flight, Lufthansa
Lufthansa’s first Boeing 777-9 has already taken shape. Photo: Rolf Bewersdorf via Lufthansa

Additionally, Lufthansa has 20 of the aircraft on order. While not the biggest customer by any means, the German flag carrier is the launch customer for the aircraft. The airline’s first 777X aircraft have already seen their fuselage put together in Seattle.

Were you watching the aborted launch of the 777X? Are you hoping to fly on the aircraft once certified and in service? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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Moaz Abid

Ensure safety? Do you think the 777x won’t be able to fly in bad weather.

Jeff

So basically boeing inadvertently admitted that the 777x would fall apart due to strong winds.

Luis E. P.

The airplane was totally safe to take off with that wind if it was taking off south, but the flight test has to take off to the north where there are some Boeing buildings, woods and water. The wind was favourable for flights taking off due south.

Kaden|kadezimm2004@gmail.com

Actually the reason they want to wait for good weather is to ensure that their tests are accurate. It appears as though Jeff and Moaz Abid hold a grudge against Boeing for some particular reason? I was watching the live feed on Boeing. Hopefully this beautiful jet will take to the skies soon🤞🏽🤞🏽

Jason Cavitt

Folks, the cancellation was due to the fact that the test aircraft’s flight route required a tailwind takeoff, and the tailwinds were holding at 16+ kts (and gusting to 34 kts). Commercial aircraft typically will not takeoff with a tailwind over 10 kts.

Shapes

It was like watching paint dry, they kept the charade going until the stock market closed.

Luis E. P.

The reason they didn’t take off is because the winds favored taking off to the south. First flights must take off to the north because, in case something goes wrong, there aren’t homes in the way, just some Boeing buildings, woods and water. Taking opposite of headwinds is rarely advisable even in proven aircraft.

Jason Cavitt

Boeing obviously knew this northern takeoff would probably be scrubbed by bad weather, but I don’t blame them for getting the airplane into position just in case the winds dipped for a bit. Approval for a southern takeoff would have been nice, but that would have involved running a test aircraft straight over a large populated area, potentially endangering residents in the advent of a mechanical mishap. The approved plan instead put the aircraft out over Puget Sound, safely away from the suburban sprawl zone. Plus, like Joanna said, the northern takeoff would have separated the test aircraft from local traffic more quickly. Good planning by Boeing—hopefully the weather gods cut them a break within the next few days. I wouldn’t mind seeing this thing in the air.

Kevin O'Gara

Well Boeing tried but the weather had other ideas.

They always say third times the charm so the world shall wait.

And the Airbus fans can complain and shout at the plane to crash and burn like children they are.

High Mile Club

I’m disappointed it hadn’t gotten off the ground today, as it was clearly ready and the weather was improving. There’s always tomorrow, but there’s still rain in the forecast.

AC

It wasn’t the Weather, it was canceled because some idiots ran out on the field to get a better picture of the plane.
It was a security and safety risk.

Damon

This is terrible. Any idiot can read a weather forecast and I would assume Boeing has skme

Blasst

This was first flight…different parameters are in place. They were looking for wind speeds around 10 knots or less and it was gusting up to 30 at times. It was possible the winds could have died down in the time they waited, yet it did not. They will go at it again tomorrow as the winds are forecast to be less, with more rain however.

JFP

Interesting that the launch customer for the 777X is the same as the launch customer for the 737: Lufthansa…

TonytTDK

It’d look particularly bad for Boeing, if their pride & joy was destroyed due to an in-flight break-up because of bad weather overstressing the feeble fuselage……. on it’s maiden flight.?

shapes

A plane that can’t fly in light winds?? A test flight dictated by other traffic?? I’ve never heard such lame excuses. In the end it was sat in bright sunny weather, cars were whizzing by, sun gleaming off their windshields, and in regard to a strong tailwind, I never once saw the rear drogue facing anything but a rearwards direction. For all the hype it became very embarrassing and notably quiet, I guess all the employees they churned out went home, and there was nothing from the PR guys we saw earlier. A total charade.