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March 15, 2020

Flight Testing for Boeing 777X is Now Underway!

On January 25, 2020, fight testing for the Boeing 777X began. The first plane took to the skies from Paine Field. The 777X incorporates innovations from the 787 Dreamliner. Hailed as the “flight experience of the future,” the plane features custom architecture and a roomy, comfortable cabin. The company is now moving forward with flight testing and is preparing for the first 777X deliveries. The aircraft has so far flown four times and is presently stationed in Seattle’s Boeing Field.

Along with other tests, Boeing reports that the 777X will undergo avionics testing including stability control and low-speed aerodynamics. Three additional 777-9s on the Everett flight line will be joining the test fleet and plan to be flying by second quarter.

Flight-test programs generally include a few thousand hours of flight time and a small number of test airlines flying several times weekly. For example, Airbus A350-900 flight testing lasted for about 15 months. Five planes traveled about 2,600h.

However, because timelines for development programs and the certification process can be uncertain, the company declined to share detailed information at this time.

Michel Merluzeau, an aerospace analyst with Consultancy AIR said, “I really anticipate a fairly smooth ride. A very diligent and methodical and smooth ride.” He added that “The real area of focus will be the engines and flight control system.”

Aerospace consultant and former Boeing engineer Peter Lemme worked on several of Boeing’s commercial airline flight testing programs. Lemme says that because the 777X doesn’t have an ACAS system, the fly-by-wire system would address any unexpected issues with pitch.

Stretched fuselage allows the 777X to achieve a larger composite wing. The 777X boasts a longer wingspan, and its wings have folding tips that retract while the plane is landing.

The folding wing design reduces drag that collects on a plane’s wing tips. Less drag improves fuel efficiency for cheaper operation. The design also enables the 777-9 to carry about 30 more passengers.

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