On Saturday, the Boeing 777X made its first flight after months of delays. While clearly a huge milestone for the American manufacturer, there is still a large mountain left to climb.
Getting an aircraft from the drawing board and into service is no small task. Once the aircraft has been designed, and the first few built, it needs to be put through its paces. This involves a number of tests, some of which may seem extreme, in order to ensure that the aircraft will be able to fly safely. The Boeing 777X will now need to undergo these tests prior to its estimated delivery in 2021. This will allow Boeing to find and rectify any design problems in addition to confirming the final design.
The first hurdle, which the 777X has already cleared, is to make its first flight. This can have some strict rules attached, one of which led to the first flight being called off. In case anything unexpected was to occur during takeoff, an unpopulated area is required beyond the runways.
For this reason, the 777X had to take off toward the north on runway 34L despite having a tailwind. On the aircraft’s first attempt to take off, the winds were well above the ten-knot maximum that Boeing needed to observe. As a result, after a prolonged wait at the end of the runway, the flight was called off until the next day.
Now that the aircraft has proved it is capable of sustained flight, the real testing begins. The aircraft will be put through its paces both on the ground and in the skies. This will include testing the aircraft’s flight envelope, cold and hot weather testing, among other things. As a result, instead of being filled with seats, the aircraft will be full of sensitive testing equipment.
2021 and beyond
Once the aircraft has been certified by the relevant authorities, Boeing will then commence deliveries of the aircraft. Lufthansa will be the launch customer for the aircraft, meaning that the German flag carrier will be the first to fly it. While they had expected their first delivery this year, the date is now expected to be in 2021 due to the delay in the program.
Despite flight testing only just beginning, Lufthansa’s first aircraft has already largely been built. Other airlines which will receive the aircraft include Emirates, British Airways, and Qatar Airways. However, the list goes on. Now that the aircraft has flown, there is also the possibility that more orders will be received, potentially at the big air shows such Farnborough this summer!
Are you looking forward to flying on the Boeing 777X once it enters service? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.