Boeing has flown the 777X out to Dubai ahead of its public debut at the Dubai Airshow. Having received all the necessary permissions to fly out to the United Arab Emirates, the planemaker will be keen to show off the jet to its largest customer, Emirates, who has publicly voiced discontent with the progress of the program several times.
It had been hoped that the Boeing 777X would make its debut at the 2019 Paris Air Show. When this came and went without a first flight, the hope switched to the 2019 Dubai Airshow. However, initial engine issues delayed the first flight to January 2020, then the pandemic canceled both the Farnborough 2020 and Paris 2021 airshows.
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All routes lead to Dubai
Since its first flight in January 2020, N779XW has taken to the skies hundreds of times, though these have been limited largely to test flights so far, bar an appearance above the Boeing Classic golf tournament. Yesterday, the jet took to the skies for its first jaunt away from the United States.
According to data from RadarBox.com, N779XW departed from Boeing Field in Seattle at 11:07 yesterday morning, around 70 minutes after the planned time of 10:00. The jet spent very little time in US airspace, quickly finding itself over Canada.
On the way to Dubai, the aircraft also overflew Greenland, Iceland, Denmark, Germany, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey, as well as flying through Norwegian Airspace over the sea. Many aircraft flying between Dubai and the West will route Through Iraq and Kuwait en route to Dubai. However, the 777X opted to fly past Cyprus and Israel, overflying Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia before entering UAE airspace.
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The reason for the route is almost certainly due to Iraqi Airspace’s classification by the FAA. Civil aviation operations in Iraq are prohibited below FL320. While the 777X was flying at FL390 by this point, the route taken by the jet offers better alternative airports if needed. The jet landed in Dubai at 14:01 after a 15-hour long flight.
Will Boeing woo Emirates?
Boeing will likely look to woo Emirates with the 777X at the Dubai Airshow. Emirates is the largest 777X customer, with 115 jets on order. By comparison, Qatar Airways takes second place with roughly half that.
Emirates President Sir Tim Clark has made no secret of the fact that he isn’t pleased with delays to the 777X program. Boeing had hoped to deliver the first aircraft last year. The first delivery is now instead planned for late 2023.
Earlier this year, Clark told Simple Flying,
“[The delay], of course, is affecting all our plans … we’re thinking now about the back end of this year through to the end of the decade, and where our network is going to be what our fleet is going to look like, what type of aircraft, how many, etc. Now, not being able to factor in the 777-9, or -8 at this stage is a little bit of a problem for us.”
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