Engine Troubles Further Delay Boeing 777X First Flight

The Boeing 777X is looking to be further delayed as issues have been found with the engines. The GE9X engines have presented ‘some challenges’, according to Boeing Chief Financial Officer, Greg Smith, which are being worked through right now.

Boeing 777X
There’s been a problem with the GE9X engines of the 777X. Photo: Wikimedia

While the world eagerly awaits the first flight of the Boeing 777X, the US manufacturer has hit another snag, this time with the engines. Following delays to the delivery of the planes carbon fiber wings and the General Electric GE9X engines, it now seems that there’s an issue with the operation of the engines themselves.

According to Reuters, Boeing Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith said,

“(The) long pole in the tent right now is the GE engine. There’s some challenges they are working through there on testing. So, we are having to do some re-testing, and they’re working their way through that.”

Head of Gulf airline Emirates, Tim Clark, had indicated at the IATA AGM this week that the test flight could take place on June 26th. Previously Boeing had said there was a window of a couple of weeks from the 21st June, during which time they hoped to take the 777X to the skies. However, both these dates are now looking optimistic as the manufacturer battles to overcome engine problems.

The GE9X engines

According to General Electric, the GE9X will be the most fuel efficient engine GE have ever produced. It’s pegged to deliver 10% less fuel burn than the GE90 used on the current 777s, and a 5% reduction in overall fuel consumption when fitted to widebody aircraft.

As well as being more powerful, it’s bypass and pressure ratios are better than its predecessor, and it stays within Stage 5 noise limits, meaning a quieter ride for passengers. It features the largest fan ever produced by GE, with just 16 fan blades, the lowest number of any widebody engine in service.

The engine has been undergoing rigorous testing of all individual components, and recently took its last flight test mounted to a 747. GE say that the composite fan blades will have undertaken more than 100 million flight hours before the engine enters service. You can watch the first engine being fired up in the video below.

New aircraft engines are not made overnight. In fact, the GE9X has been in testing since 2013. GE have used modern manufacturing processes including 3D printing to make components from materials that would simply have been impossible in the past. The engine really is a showcase of how far we’ve come over the years in terms of jet engine technology.

Enjoy this walkthrough of the engine to see all the features in wonderful rendering:

How long will this delay be?

With things not going as smoothly as they could for the development of the 777X, the world is wondering just how long we’ll have to wait to see it in action. Already we’ve had one disappointment, as it was due to be attending the Paris Airshow later this month, but now will miss that event.

Both Greg Smith and Dennis Muilenburg have confirmed that 2020 entry into service is still the goal, but it looks like at this stage the test flight could easily run into early July.

However, with the Boeing 737 MAX disasters still fresh in our minds, the world can wait patiently for the 777X to be ready. Take your time Boeing, and get it right.