One Step Closer To Launch: The Boeing 777X Completes First Ever Taxi Test

Yesterday, Boeing completed another step towards getting it’s new 777X aircraft into service. The new 777 variant recently completed its first ever taxi test at production facilities located at Paine Field in Everett, Washington.

The Boeing 777x is the latest variant of the Boeing 777 line. Photo: Boeing

According to Aeronautics Online, the aircraft performing the test was registration N779XW. Accelerating down Paine Field’s runway 16R, the 777x then came to a stop using its brakes and spoilers. Boeing employees could be seen cooling the aircraft’s brakes.

Boeing estimates that the 777X will on average be 10% cheaper to operate than the A350-1000. Their website also states that the 777-8 will offer 4% lower operating costs, and the 777-9 up to 11% lower costs. Furthermore, they also say the jet will be 12% more fuel efficient. Below is video of the actual taxi test:

Other recent progress

Three weeks ago on May 29th there were reports that N779XW was seen performing its initial engine start-up, as smoke clouds could be seen from a distance.

We also recently reported last week that Lufthansa’s first 777X could be seen at Boeing’s test flight line. Spotted by AirlineGeeks at Paine Field in Everett, Washington, the engine-less aircraft has the designation WH003.

Just a few days ago, Boeing put out a post on Twitter featuring footage of the 777X extending it’s wingtips:

Video of the day:

Program delays

Unfortunately, the 777X program has been hit by a number of issues causing delays to its schedule. Last week we reported from the Paris Air Show that GE (General Electric) made the revelation that a major redesign is needed to a part for the GE9X engines, which power the Boeing 777X.

According to K5 News, it is said they are working on a “durability issue” found during testing in Ohio. As a result, engine certification is unlikely to happen until the autumn this year, pushing back the test flight of the type by a number of months.

Previously, Boeing was hoping to conduct the first test flight on or around June 26th. However, Boeing gave warnings that this ‘window’ for the test flight could run into early July. Now it’s looking to be a much longer process.

The 777X is powered by two GE9X engines. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Program delays aren’t exactly a surprise for new aircraft types – at least they shouldn’t be. Last week we wrote about some of the risks of being a launch customer for a new aircraft type. Delays are not uncommon.

The 737 MAX program had its fair share of delays. And, of course, there were significant delays for the 787 Dreamliner program, as the aircraft was an astounding three years behind schedule when it launched. The aircraft type had an original delivery target of May 2008. However, the first 787 only made it to launch customer All Nippon Airways (ANA) in September 2011.

Airlines defer their orders

We reported earlier this week that Emirates is looking to potentially defer its 777X order. The Emirates order represents nearly half of all the 344 orders Boeing has taken for the 777X. Emirates president Tim Clark gave confirmation in an interview last week that 777X re-negotiations are concluding soon. However, the outcome may not be announced until the Dubai Air Show in the fall.

In further bad news for Boeing, it was reported by Reuters that cash strapped rival Etihad is “exploring options with Boeing to cancel or defer orders for 777X jets.” Etihad has 25 777Xs on order with Boeing.

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Nigel

The newly-revealed problems with the GE9x engines are reminiscent of the (horrendous) problems with the Trent 1000 (Dreamliner) and PWG (A320 neo), both of which have seen partial fleet groundings. I would imagine that 777X customers will want to be COMPLETELY satisfied that the GE9x problems are COMPLETELY fixed before accepting any airframes. Just ask Air New Zealand what it’s like to have your Dreamliners grounded for months…