Boeing 777X Aircraft Ferried To Alaska For Cold Soak Testing

A Boeing 777X test aircraft has been ferried to Fairbanks, Alaska, to undergo cold soak testing. This week’s move is part of the type’s preparation program ahead of its introduction in 2023.

Boeing 777X livery launch logo
Cold and hot soak testing ensures the operational capability of a plane’s airframe and components such as engines in a wide range of temperature conditions between extreme cold and extreme hot. Photo: Getty Images

Extreme conditions

According to Airline Ratings, the unit currently holds registration number N779XZ. It was ferried from Seattle to the Alaskan city to perform a series of tests. These experiments include the monitoring of how significant cold conditions can impact different parts of the plane. Therefore, Alaska is the perfect location at this time of year.

RadarBox N779XZ
Flight data from RadarBox shows that the aircraft left Boeing Field King County International at 12:37 PST to arrive at Fairbanks International at 15:22 AKST on February 4th. Photo:

There are several factors to consider with this aspect of testing. For example, metals contract at different durations. Moreover, lubricants may expend their viscosity, which can create wear problems for moving parts. Plastic and rubber materials could also become brittle. The trial involves shutting down the plane for 24 hours before actioning a cold start.

Testing includes the following factors:

  • Validation of systems behaviors at considerably low temperatures
  • Rejected take-offs
  • Engine and auxiliary power unit (APU) start after the cold soak
  • Thrust-reverser tests with snowy conditions
Boeing 777X
Cold weather testing plays an important part in the program. Photo: Getty Images

Change of plan

This move follows important developments regarding the 777X program earlier this month. The manufacturer reduced its number of firm orders of the type by 118 units. This has left a total of 191 firm orders for highly-anticipated aircraft.

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In the same week, reports emerged that Emirates, the 777X’s largest customer has been mulling over the prospects of switching some of its orders for the widebody to the smaller 787. The Middle Eastern powerhouse could swap out up to 45 units in favor of the Dreamliner. Overall, these reports emerge following the announcement that the first 777X won’t be delivered until 2023.

Boeing 777X
There has been plenty of excitement with the Boeing 777X’s launch. Photo: Getty Images

Still focused

Altogether, there have been complications for Boeing across the board over the last year amid the 737 MAX saga and the pandemic. However, despite struggles across the industry and a delay to the 777X’s entry to service, the company is still determined to crack on with crucial testing procedures such as this one in Alaska.

The fourth 777X test unit had hit the air for the first time in September. The quartet will prove vital for Boeing as it seeks to commit to its new introduction date.

Simple Flying reached out to Boeing for further details on this 777X cold soak in Alaska. A spokesperson for the airline shared the following:

“We continue to execute a rigorous test program, on the ground and in the air, to demonstrate the safety and reliability of the new 777-9 airplane.”

What are your thoughts about this Boeing 777X ferrying to Fairbanks in Alaska for cold soak testing? Are you glad to see further progress in the aircraft’s testing procedures? Let us know what you think of the move in the comment section.