In what’s been labeled a ‘freak shipping accident’, one of the revamped GE9X engines destined for the 777X has been damaged. The engine, being returned to Boeing from GE following repair and upgrading, was subjected to a hard landing at Everett Paine Field adjacent to the Boeing factory. Boeing is checking the engine out but says it won’t affect the timeline of the test flights of the 777X.
GE9X damaged in hard landing
The production of the 777X has not been a smooth process. From the outset, the enormous and massively powerful GE9X engines have faced a number of issues, eventually being sent back to GE to be fixed up. However, at the end of last month, GE returned the replacement engines to Boeing in Washington, giving us hope that a test flight could be edging closer.
However, Boeing has now hit another snag, as it seems one of the first revamped engines to arrive from GE was damaged in what’s being termed a ‘freak shipping accident’.
Bloomberg reports that the giant engine was subjected to a hard landing on arrival at Paine Field. Presumably, that was on the Antonov AN-124 that had been specially drafted in to ferry the engines between GE and Boeing. Boeing spokesperson Paul Bergman said of the incident,
“Safety is our highest priority. We are working closely with GE as they assess the condition of one GE9X engine damaged during shipment. At this time, there does not appear to be any major damage. Boeing recently received reconfigured engines for the first flight airplane and remains on track for first flight in early 2020.”
The damaged engine was one of the first to arrive back at Boeing with its parts meticulously redesigned for greater durability.
No delay to first flight
Despite this latest mishap, it doesn’t look like it will have any effect on the timeline of the first flight of the new Boeing widebody. According to reports, the factory has access to other repaired GE9X engines and is now installing the first pair on aircraft for use in flight testing early next year.
Boeing’s new 777X will be the first aircraft to be faced with the increased scrutiny of certification since the grounding of the 737 MAX. With its unique folding wingtips and new, high powered engines, there’s a lot to be checked out before the regulators will tick it off.
Various customers for the first 777-9s have expressed doubt over the timeframe for the aircraft to enter service. Emirates has said it doesn’t expect any deliveries in 2020, and Lufthansa has said the same, as well as switching 14 firm orders to options. Singapore Airlines has pushed back the type’s entry into service to 2022, and Qatar has made it clear it will hold on to the older 777s in its fleet until it can be sure the new version is on the way.
The first flight of the 777X is still expected to take place in early 2020.