While the world was focused on Boeing’s 737 MAX series aircraft, the presently-embattled aircraft manufacturer quietly unveiled its latest aircraft: the Boeing 777X, at an employee-only preview in Everett, Wash. Boeing was scheduled to unveil the aircraft in a highly public display on Wednesday but put those plans on hold following the news of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 that fatally crashed shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa leading to the grounding of the ultramodern aircraft by all authorities throughout the world.
Despite all eyes on the MAX. the 777-9 variant of the 777X was still able to have its day, being displayed to employees in Boeing’s house colors in a hangar at Paine Field. On the fuselage were the tails of each of the aircraft’s launch customers which currently include launch operator Emirates, Lufthansa, Etihad Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, All Nippon Airways, Singapore Airlines and British Airways, among others.
The aircraft, registration N779XW, was moved to the event hangar from the production facility under the cover of night, though the bright blue and white of the aircraft still shined through. The folding wingtips of the 777X we in stow mode as it was towed into the hangar, showing off the unique capability of the aircraft as airports become more operationally constrained.
In addition to the aircraft being unveiled, another key component was also unveiled, the GE9X engines that will be powering the 777X. GE’s largest engine, the GE9X, was created exclusively for the 777X and is the only engine offered for the model, contributing to the growing trend of marrying engines to aircraft and leaving little room for other engine manufacturers to see their engines on new aircraft.
The unveiling comes just five months after the aircraft was powered up for the first time in late November, as reported by AviationWeek. With its electrical systems intact, the aircraft fully assembled and engines attached in January, the next step will be flight testing and eventually getting certification from regulatory agencies to operate the aircraft on a revenue basis. All this is expected to take just over a year, with the first delivered expected in spring 2020 to Emirates.
In this, the 25th year of the Boeing 777 product line following the first flight in 1994, Boeing continues the legacy of the Triple Seven and will formally unveil the aircraft to the world at a later date, according to the company.
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