With Boeing’s first 777X now rumored to be taking a test flight on June 26th, the aviation industry is becoming more excited by the minute about this latest release by Boeing. But what’s so good about the plane, and why are we all fangirling over it?
Last week, Boeing said that the first test flight of the 777X would take place on the 21st June. However, CEO Muilenburg admitted that this was the start of a ‘window’ for the test flight, warning that it could be as late as early July before it actually happened.
It now seems there is a slightly firmer date in the calendar, as Emirates CEO Tim Clark revealed at the IATA AGM in Seoul this week. Although Emirates are not the launch customer for the 777X (that’s Lufthansa, by the way), they are expected to be one of the first to receive their 777X.
According to Airway1, Clark let slip that the first test flight is scheduled for June 26th, just five days later than Boeing’s earliest possible date. This is with a view to the first 777X entering into service from 2020. But why are the industry so anxious to know when the latest Boeing aircraft will take to the skies? Here’s why we’re excited for the Boeing 777X.
With a wingspan of up to 71.8m, the 777X is set to become the page three girl of the Boeing lineup. Sitting on the tarmac, it’s going to be quite a sight to behold, and unlike anything else that world weary travelers will be used to seeing.
They curve gracefully up and away from the fuselage then back down, akin to a child’s representation of a bird in flight. Then, at the very end, the iconic fold up wingtip, painted with 777X which is certain to become as much of a trademark of the model as the humpback is of the 747.
Popular Science listed the 777X as a ‘Best of What’s New Winner’, saying that:
“Wing size matters – bigger wings generate greater lift, which can improve an airplane’s fuel efficiency. With a 235-foot wingspan, one of the largest in the industry, Boeing’s new 777X twin-engine airliner will undercut its competitors in both fuel consumption and operating costs per seat. Thanks to their carbon-fiber composition, the wings are both strong and flexible – and the tips even fold up so today’s airports can accommodate their wider span.”
The massive engines
The 777-9, the first of the X family to be released, feature the largest engines ever seen on an aircraft. With their position beneath those epic carbon fiber wings, the whole picture will certainly be a sight for sore eyes.
The GE9X is the newest iteration of the popular GE90 engine and is the largest jet engine ever to be produced. Each one is a staggering 13 feet in diameter, 15 at the nacelle, making it bigger than the fuselage of a 737. You get a sense of the enormity of these beasts in the image below:
The biggest engine you’ve ever seen.
I’m six-foot-tall, standing in front of the first GE-9X to hang on the immense @Boeing 777X wing. The engine nacelle is more than 15 feet in diameter.https://t.co/kmxgijjYcR pic.twitter.com/ValFlHLqeb
— Dominic Gates (@dominicgates) January 4, 2019
They give out a massive 100,000lb of thrust, plenty to get this big bird up in the air. However, avgeeks will note that this is around 15,000lb of thrust less than the current GE90 used on the 777 family.
The reason for this is that the new engines use modern technology like 3D printing to manufacture parts from previously unusable materials. Add to this the larger fan blades and overall lightweight construction, and not as much power is required. The end result is an engine with far greater fuel efficiency and less noise than previous models.
Lower fares, possibly?
Boeing estimate the 777X to be, on average, 10% cheaper to operate than the A350-1000. Their website states that the 777-8 will offer 4% lower operating costs, and the 777-9 up to 11% lower costs. They also say it will be 12% more fuel efficient.
While manufacturer statements need to be taken with a pinch of salt until real world testing takes place, this is an interesting notion to consider. If it is indeed true, an overall lower operating cost could see the price of long haul flying driven down, as well as keeping airlines in a profitable state of affairs.
Probably the most exciting element of the 777X for any regular flyer will be the superb passenger experience on offer. Although individual airlines will have their own specifications for seating products and cabin layouts, we already know that Boeing have taken much of the comfort technology from the Dreamliner and applied it to the 777X too.
We can expect those wonderfully large windows to give the cabin a feeling of openness and light, probably with the electronically dimmable shades everyone loves on the Dreamliner. With a four inch wider cabin, the opportunities for airlines to really get creative with the space is enhanced too.
Larger overhead bins will make it easier to store luggage, and the advanced LED mood lighting will make it easy for crew to create a pleasant in flight ambiance for all passengers. As with the 787, there will be lower cabin altitude pressurization at work, as well as improved humidity, better temperature control and low cabin noise.
Add to this the massive range of the 777X, making trips like New York to Auckland, Dubai to Buenos Aires and London to Honolulu an easy hop, and the options for travel are wide open too. We can’t wait to see the first 777X make its test flight and to see which routes it will serve. Are you excited for the 777X too? Let us know in the comments!