The aviation world is rapidly changing due to the current crisis, and no one is more affected than airframe builders like Boeing. With the Boeing 777X due to start service at the end of the year, has the crisis affected the new flagship aircraft’s development?
What is the Boeing 777X?
If you don’t know what the Boeing 777X is, then here is a quick summary.
Boeing is building a new generation of the popular widebody 777, much as it did with the narrowbody 737. This new version will have new technologies and new engineering, inspired in part by innovations built into the Boeing 787. These include bigger windows, a composite fuselage, and state-of-the-art cabins.
The wingspan of the aircraft is enormous, so much so that it needs to folds up its wingtips to fit into regular airport gates.
Plus, the aircraft is famously known for its gigantic powerplants, the GE9X. These engines are so big that you could fit the entire fuselage of a Boeing 737 within its diameter.
There are two variants in development; the Boeing 777-8 and 777-9.
|Range||8,690 nautical miles||7,525 nautical miles|
The first Boeing 777X to be built for commercial service is destined for Lufthansa. So far, the type has 309 orders from other airlines, including Etihad, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Qatar Airways, All Nippon Airways, Singapore Airlines, and British Airways.
What is the current progress of the Boeing 777X?
The aircraft has been under development for many years, and earlier this year Boeing made great progress in getting a prototype built and flying. The aircraft took to the skies in January, and last month the second of four prototypes began its taxi tests.
You can read about the development cycle of the 777X program here, and what each Boeing 777X prototype is being built for.
However, since then news of the 777X development has become few and far between as the current crisis takes over our airwaves. What is the current state of 777X development?
According to a report by Bloomberg, Boeing recently shut down its widebody production facilities to prevent further spread of the deadly virus that is engulfing the nation.
The manufacturer had planned to reopen the facility on Tuesday, but has since extended this for the duration of the crisis. A statement released by Boeing read,
“Boeing is extending the temporary suspension of production operations at all Puget Sound area and Moses Lake sites until further notice.”
Until employees are allowed back into the facility, then most of the Boeing 777X development will be restricted to only theoretical or software developments. Essential workers are allowed on site, but it’s unlikely that the development of the 777X would be considered essential.
There is also a possibility that suppliers who are building components for the model will continue, but they will not able to deliver them for some time.
In summary, we know that the first prototype is flying and still available for flight tests and that the second version has not yet flown but is driving around the Boeing lot (hopefully not bumping into any parked Boeing 737 MAXs)
Simple Flying reached out to Boeing to understand the current state of the development program, but at the time of publishing, Boeing is yet to reply.
Until then, perhaps we should just follow the tweet below and just be satisfied that Boeing is even building such a remarkable aircraft.
Photo by: PR Photography pic.twitter.com/OszuhCHsPL
— Boeing 777X Lovers (@b777xLovers) April 7, 2020
What do you think of the Boeing 777X development? Let us know in the comments.