The iconic Boeing 777 has celebrated a significant milestone. On June 7th, 1995, the first Boeing 777 lifted off on its first commercial flight for United Airlines. In a few days, on June 12th, the 777 will celebrate 26 years since its first flight back in 1994. Here’s a look at 25 years of the 777.
United, a big 777 operator, flew them first
United Airlines has a whopping 96 Boeing 777s in its fleet. This includes 22 777-300ERs, the last of which was delivered in March, 55 Boeing 777-200ERs, and 19 Boeing 777-200s from the airline’s last fleet update. The oldest of these are the 777-200s. And, it was a 777-200 that, in fact, flew the first commercial 777-200 service.
United Airlines was the launch customer for the 777-200. And, for its first flight, the airline put the aircraft on a prestigious service between London Heathrow and Washington-Dulles on flight 921. Later in the day, other flights included 910 from Denver to Chicago and 940 from Chicago to Frankfurt, according to a 1995 report from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
United is still flying its first Boeing 777s. They appear as some of the oldest 777s still in operation. However, nowadays, they mostly operate domestic legs.
How the 777 came to be
The Boeing 777 was the first aircraft in the world to be designed 100% digitally using three-dimensional computer graphics. There were no expensive full-scale mock-ups of the aircraft. However, plenty of thought went into the design.
Many different airlines were part of the design process. The prominent eight include All Nippon Airways, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Lines, Japan Airlines, United Airlines and, Qantas. All except for Qantas would go on to order the jet. At the time of its creation, it was the first brand new Boeing airplane in over a decade.
More variants of the 777 followed
On June 26th, 1995, Boeing’s board of directors authorized the production of the larger Boeing 777-300. In 1998, the first 777-300 went out to Cathay Pacific. The extended range version 777-200ER came into operation in 1997– two years after United’s first 777 flights.
Both the 777-200 and 777-300 faced further range extensions. The 777-200LR, which is also called the “Worldliner,” came around in 2006. Meanwhile, the first 777-300ER went to Air France two years before the -200LR. Boeing also developed a freight version of the aircraft that entered commercial service in 2009.
The Boeing 777s legacy continues on
Emirates is the largest Boeing 777 operator in the world, with over 140 of the type in passenger service and more operating dedicated cargo flights. The most significant variant in the airline’s fleet is the 777-300ER.
Other major 777 operators include Qatar Airways and Air France-KLM, both operating over 70 of the type with the -300ER variants making up the bulk of both fleets. American Airlines has 67 of the type with 47 777-200ERs. British Airways has just under 60 777s, also comprised mainly of the 777-200ER.
The 777 is a mainstay of long-haul operations around the world and are operating some of the most prestigious routes in the world. However, some are headed for the sunset. Delta will retire all 18 of its Boeing 777s while other airlines will likely wave farewell to the older models in favor of new, more efficient jets. However, not all 777s are getting old. Some are quite new and will continue to fly for years to come.
However, all is not lots for Boeing 777 fans. Coming up is the brand new Boeing 777X that features folding wingtips. The 777X is the next iteration of the famous 777 and took its first flight earlier this year in Seattle. The 777X can operate an impressive array of routes and will likely make a big splash when it has its first commercial flight– most probably in 2021.
Are you a Boeing 777 fan? What are your favorite memories of the aircraft? Let us know in the comments!