In a piece of good news, Boeing is operating the first test flight of its third Boeing 777X aircraft today. The plane, N779XY, took to the skies at 13:55 (local time) on Monday and is slated to fly for approximately one hour before touching down at Moses Lake in Washington.
According to Twitter, N779XY was to take to the skies at 10:00 from Paine Field. The Twitter tipster might be a few hours out timewise, but he was otherwise on the money.
WH003 777-9 N779XY is scheduled for first flight from Paine Field August 3 at 10:00 AM pic.twitter.com/FmRsUjdLya
— Paine Airport (@mattcawby) August 3, 2020
Today’s planned flight comes after Boeing recently pushed back delivery of its first 777X to 2022.
Boeing flies the third 777X today
Boeing’s 777X made its first test flight in January. That was months behind schedule. While the January test flight was widely considered a success, problems with the General Electric GE9X engines had caused long delays. Over the next few months, this plane racked up scores of hours before the second 777X took to the skies.
On April 30, Boeing successfully completed the test flight of its second 777X. That flight lasted three hours. The plane took off from the Boeing plant in Everett, Washington, a little before midday. After a trip around Washington state, it landed three hours later at Seattle’s Boeing Field.
The second #777X jet has completed its first flight. One of four dedicated flight test airplanes, WH002 is testing handling characteristics as part of our rigorous test program. pic.twitter.com/h0zRBe82FA
— Boeing Airplanes (@BoeingAirplanes) April 30, 2020
Boeing not having an easy time with the 777X
Boeing is not having an easy time bringing the 777X to fruition. The plane is touted as the successor of the iconic Boeing 747. With a range of 7,600 nautical miles and the ability to carry up to 425 passengers, the 777X can match many of the 747s capabilities.
Nearly seven years ago, Boeing launched the 777X with record-breaking orders and commitments. At its November 2013 launch, Boeing announced agreements for 259 777X planes from four customers. The initial customers included Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Etihad.
“The 777X builds on the best-in-class dispatch reliability from today’s 777, as well as offering more market coverage and revenue capability that surpasses the competition. The 777-8X competes directly with the A350-1000, while the 777-9X is in a class by itself,” said Boeing at the time.
They were optimistic days. No-one foresaw the problems that lay ahead for the 777X, Boeing, and the aviation environment in general. Production of the 777X was then scheduled to start in 2017 with first deliveries in 2020.
A best in class engine that dogged 777X progress
Many of the delays associated with the 777X were attributed to the choice of engine, the GE9X. Again, in 2013, the GE9X seemed an inspired choice. They would be the largest and most powerful engine ever put onto a commercial plane. Each engine would deliver 105,000 pounds of thrust while burning 10% less fuel than the predecessor GE90 engine.
But there have been on-going design issues with the compressor of the GE9X engines. It saw the first flight of the 777X pushed back from 2018 to 2019, and finally 2020.
With the production of the A380 and Boeing 747 ending, the 777X will become the biggest passenger jet on the market. However, times have changed since the plane was first announced back in 2013. Some people argue the 777X is just too big. Sales of the 777X have not matched sales of smaller-sized jets like the Dreamliner or Airbus A350.
Despite this, and the 777X’s growing pains, Boeing is inching closer to its first 777X delivery. Today’s test flight of the third 777X aircraft brings that goal that little bit closer.
What are your thoughts about the 777X? Let us know in the comment section.