Boeing’s second-quarter results announcement included a small bit on their latest widebody aircraft. The highly-anticipated Boeing 777X may not have a first flight until early 2020. This represents a delay due to issues with the GE9X engine.
Previously, Simple Flying reported that Boeing was aiming for a late 2019 first flight for the Boeing 777X. Specifically, a Boeing spokesperson said the following:
The first 777X flight test airplane rolled out of the factory in March, 2019. We are working toward first flight later this year, to support entry into service in 2020. We’re progressing to and preparing for the flight test program
However, now it seems that issues with the GE9X engine have led Boeing to caution a delayed first flight for the 777X.
General Electric, the engine manufacturer, has been working to overcome challenges with the engine design. It seems that there is a delay in the program that Boeing is now making stakeholder’s aware of. In Boeing’s second-quarter results, the manufacturer cautioned the following:
The 777X program is progressing well through pre-flight testing. While the company is still targeting late 2020 for first delivery of the 777X, there is significant risk to this schedule given engine challenges, which are delaying first flight until early 2020.
The GE9X engine plays an important role in the 777X’s performance. Being the world’s largest commercial jet engine was not enough since it is also now the world’s most powerful. This engine was specifically designed for the aircraft.
Will there be delivery delays?
Issues with the engine have been known for some time. However, Boeing has continuously maintained a late-2019 timeline for the first flight of the 777X. The first flight previously was delayed until the autumn of 2019. With Boeing’s latest update, that timeline is no longer valid.
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Despite this, Boeing currently does not anticipate late first delivery of the aircraft. Lufthansa has reportedly been preparing for a 777X delay, although it is a positive sign that Lufthansa’s first 777X has left the factory floor.
It seems that the major issue delaying the 777X first flight is the engine. No other issues have been revealed with the complex 777X itself. Known for its folding wingtips, Boeing seems to have gotten the aircraft structurally sound and awaiting the first flight. In addition, some other tests, including the taxi test, have been completed. This shows that Boeing is still progressing forward with the aircraft’s first flight.
As of now, however, it is too soon to tell whether or not there will be a delivery delay with the 777X. For Boeing, in the midst of the 737 MAX crisis, a 777X delay is likely something they would want to avoid.
The GE9X engines are holding up the 777X for now. Engine issues have affected several aircraft in terms of production and first flights. Ultimately, GE and Boeing will likely work on a timeline and a fix together. For airlines with the 777X on order, hopefully, the aircraft will be able to meet its target first delivery date.
Do you think the 777X will be delivered on time? Let us know in the comments!