While most aviation news has been cause for concern of late, one source of excitement is the progression of Boeing’s new widebody program. On Wednesday, launch customer Lufthansa’s first 777X aircraft was spotted outside the factory walls for the very first time.
Spotted at Paine Field
On Wednesday, Lufthansa’s first 777X was spotted outside of the factory for the first time. The new widebody jet was glimpsed on the Everett flight line at Paine Field, the airport serving Boeing’s production facilities in Seattle.
The aircraft is of the stretched 777-9 variety and is registered as tail-number D-ABTA. It is the first out of 20 that Lufthansa will receive. Initially, the German flag-carrier ordered 34 but transformed 14 of these into options in November last year. It was one of the first airlines to place an order for the new model back in November 2013, along with Etihad Airways.
Lufthansa 777X D-ABTA on the Everett flightline pic.twitter.com/mAuXOXswbE
— Paine Airport (@mattcawby) May 12, 2020
Delivery early 2021
The first Lufthansa 777X was to be delivered in summer this year. However, the manufacturer failed to keep up with the intended testing schedule for the aircraft due to engine troubles. This has resulted in a delay that is perhaps not too great a concern for airlines at the moment.
Maiden flight in January
The first 777X, with its characteristic wingtips, completed its maiden flight in January this year. The certification program was then re-launched in late April. The resumption of the test flights came after a month-long hiatus while the manufacturer recalibrated production according to government guidelines.
It also introduced the second aircraft to the program. Another two, complete with cabin configurations, will join them in the near future. Granted no further complications arise, perhaps this time, delivery will not be pushed back.
Eight airlines have orders for the 777X
If the airlines that are waiting to receive the 777X will still want as many brand new long-haul aircraft as they had planned for in a pre-crisis fleet is another matter. Even before the present crisis, there were order recalibrations as growth hit a bump in the road.
Apart from Lufthansa and Etihad, that initially ordered 26 of the jets but later committed to taking only six, another six carriers have placed orders for what is to be Boeing’s new flagship.
All Nippon Airways (ANA), British Airways, Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Emirates have all placed orders for 777-8s or the stretched 777-9. Emirates initially placed an order for a whopping 150 aircraft, but later removed 24 in November 2019.
Could demand increase when travel bounces back?
When travel demand has soared back to pre-crisis heights, airlines have repaid their substantial loans, and they are ready to spend again, could orders for the 777X take off? With so many older widebody jets, including jumbo and superjumbo, now seeing early retirement, carriers could be looking to replace its long-haul fleet in a few years.
Simple Flying has reached out to Lufthansa for its thoughts on the delivery schedule for its new plane but was yet to receive a reply at the time of publication.
What is your take on the future of Boeing’s new 777X model? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.