Cathay Pacific is set to receive its first Boeing 777-9 in 2021. Delivery of the airline’s new flagship 777-9s will continue through until 2024 when the airline will operate 21 of the new state-of-the-art aircraft.
Although Boeing has announced that delivery will begin in 2021, the new giant 777-9 is still in the ground test phase. Flight tests will not be taking place until next year, so the schedule is a tight one.
Not only does Boeing have to deliver the planes, but the Cathay Pacific pilots will have to learn how to fly them. The 777-9 is longer, bigger, with a larger wing-span and wider fuselage than the airline’s 777-300ER. Its wingspan is so wide, the tips are designed to fold in so the aircraft can actually get to airport gates.
Training the pilots
Pilots with a ‘common type rating’ license will be able to learn how to fly the plane in a simulator. The similarity with the 777-300ER is similar enough that pilots don’t actually need to be in the aircraft in order to learn how to handle it.
Cathay Pacific is currently working with Boeing to design a simulator which will enable pilots to practice flying the plane. This obviously has its own complications as the aircraft is still in the design and production phase. The team is relying on previous data and computer models to make the simulator.
Dave Lohse, Cathay Pacific First Officer and Head of Flight Technical Services, has the responsibility of ensuring the plane is integrated with the Cathay Pacific Group and making sure the flight simulator is correctly training the pilots. The simulator must meet certain requirements to ensure pilots are qualified to fly the plane and are ready to use it for commercial flights immediately after the airline takes delivery.
Sounds like an impossible task, but in an interview with Discovery, Lohse said of the simulator,
“The control response was excellent. Boeing has worked more with fly-by-wire technology in the 777-9, and the digital flight control systems get this bigger aircraft to fly like a smaller one.”
The flagship 777-9, part of the 777X family, will have four cabin classes, including first class. The new first-class cabins have been upgraded to ensure the new 777-9s are the best they can be. Cathay Pacific is working with seat designers, industrial designers and entertainment providers as well as looking at the food and drink which will be offered. The new, improved Boeings are getting the royal treatment.
Although the 777-9 has a slighter shorter range than the 777-8, it does have a larger capacity. Depending on class arrangements, the 777-9 can carry up to 425 passengers. This makes the planes ideal for flying routes to America and London from Hong Kong. These long-haul flights are perfect for the 777s large capacity and with all the extra touches from Cathay Pacific, it sounds like it will be a very enjoyable flight.
The introduction of the brand-new Boeing 777-9s is part of Cathay Pacific’s new plans to modernize its fleet over the coming years. The group, which consists of Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, Hong Kong Express and AHK Air Hong Kong, currently has orders for 65 new aircraft. Before the end of 2024, the group will take delivery of the 21 Boeing 777-9s as well as 12 Airbus A350 and 32 A321neo aircraft.
In November of this year, the group announced it was looking to use the new aircraft “to maximize each airline’s operational efficiency and synergy.” In its official press statement, the group also said it hoped the new planes would help “strengthen its position as Asia’s leading international aviation hub” in Hong Kong.
If Boeing is able to deliver on time, then the new Cathay 777-9s should be arriving in just over a year. We’d love to know your opinion on the aircraft. Are you excited for Cathay Pacific’s new first-class 777s? Could the new 777-9s be Boeing’s saving grace after recent events? Let us know in the comments below.