First flying prototype of Boeing’s new 777-9 gets its wings
It seems Boeing has a couple of teasers up its sleeve. As part of periodic live broadcast from factory floor, the U.S. plane manufacturer recently revealed the progress on its brand new 777-9 program, the first of the 777X Family of airplanes.
In a video released on October 24, 2018, via Boeing’s official Twitter account, the plane maker revealed it had completed the first 777X ground test airplane.
The video shows the roll-out of the test body of a 777-9 from the assembly hall at Boeing’s manufacturing plant in Everett, Seattle.
In the short clip, it can be seen that the jet has a structurally complete hull and a structurally complete wing, but no full tail or engines nor other “smaller parts”, Airlinerwatch.com reports.
In a tweeted photo on March 23, 2018, Boeing revealed the start of the fuselage assembly for this 777-9. And earlier this fall, on September 8, 2018, Boeing gave a glimpse on the 777-9 static airframe roll-out:
The first 777X is out of the Everett factory pic.twitter.com/8Y4VgzDwTi— Paine Airport (@mattcawby) September 8, 2018
This first test aircraft will never fly and will be used for static testing on the ground.
Meanwhile, the first flying prototype of the 777-9 has received its new CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer) wing, German aviation news portal Flugrevue.de reported on October 25, 2018.
The WH001 is scheduled to perform its first flight in early 2019, Theaircurrent.com reports.
What’s all the fuss about
The new wings of the 777-9, with more bulge than those of the 777-300ER, have tips that can be folded up while on the ground so that the aircraft could fit onto taxiways and into the regular gates used by the 777-300ER.
According to Boeing, the folding tip mechanism enables 23 feet (7 meters) more span to maximize fuel efficiency.
The 777-9 has a wingspan of 236 feet (72 meters), while the 777-300ER’s wingspan is 212 ft 7 in (65 meters). The 777X‘s wing is the largest the plane maker has ever built.
The 777X family of wide-bodies (350- to 425-seat) is an upgrade to Boeing’s 777 and 787 Dreamliner families.
Aside of the longer composite wing with folding tips, the 777X also features a stretched and updated fuselage as well as new 100,000lb-thrust (445kN) GE Aviation’s GE9X turbofan engines (GE’s largest ever).
The 777-9 is only one of the two variants that comprise Boeing’s 777X Family of jets.
The smaller (229 feet or 70 meters) 777-8 model has a maximum range of 8,700 nautical miles (16,110km). It is to succeed the ultra-long-range 777-200LR (209 ft 1 in), and compete with Airbus’ A350-1000.
The larger (252 feet or 77 meters) 777-9 variant has a maximum range of 7,600 nmi (14,075 km) and would in turn succeed the 777-300ER (242 ft 4 in). It would also be longer than the previous longest airliner – the 747-8 (250 ft 2 in).
According to FlightGlobal, following its flight trials, the new aircraft is scheduled to enter service in 2020. The longer-range 777-8 variant is to enter service two years later.
The 777-9 is valued $388.7 million at list price.
As of September 2018, Boeing has logged a total of 326 orders for its 777X Family jets worldwide, as the company’s orders and deliveries summary indicates.
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