AirlineGeeks recently spotted Lufthansa’s first Boeing 777-9X, the third airworthy airframe off of the assembly line, at Paine Field in Everett, Wash. The third airworthy airframe off of the new aircraft’s assembly line, the aircraft designated WH003 rolled out to the Boeing test flight line on the evening of June 12 bearing no engines.
The aircraft spotting marks the second development in the Boeing 777-9X program in as many weeks. On May 29, the first 777-9 test vehicle, test frame WH001 to be registered as N779XW, had its initial engine run producing the first startup smoke clouds of the aircraft type.
Lufthansa will be the European launch customer for the 777-9X, coming as no surprise as Boeing and Lufthansa have been partners for nearly six decades as Lufthansa was the launch customer for the Boeing 737 and Boeing 747-8i. Additionally, Lufthansa’s cargo carrier, Lufthansa Cargo, operates the McDonnell Douglas MD-11F and the Boeing 777F.
The German flag carrier will introduce its new business class offering on the 777-9X, which was announced in late 2017 and pre-emptively won the airline a Skytrax 5-star rating. Lufthansa’s first 777-9X, expected to be assigned registration N779XY during its test flights, is likely to join its fleet sometime in summer 2020.
With 20 777-9x aircraft currently on order, Lufthansa will use the next-generation aircraft to replace its aging 13 747-400s, primarily used on intercontinental routes. The aircraft will be based in Frankfurt, Lufthansa’s main hub, according to the carrier’s social media outlets.
Originally entering service in 1995, the 777 is the world’s largest twin-engine jet aircraft and is regularly operated on many long-haul routes across the globe. Announced in November 2013, the 777x program is a major upgrade to the current 777, set to include two variants, the 777-8 and the larger 777-9.
The Dash 9 variant is approximately 22 feet longer than the Dash 8 and can be configured to carry 400-425 passengers. In contrast, the Dash 8 has approximately 1,100 nautical miles of range beyond the Dash 9 and can be configured to carry 350-375 passengers. Both variants will be powered by GE9X engines.
The 777x family combines the capacity and range of the 777 family with the innovative new technologies found in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner as 777x passengers will enjoy larger windows like those found on the Dreamliner, a wider cabin, decreased cabin altitude and increased cabin humidity. The 777x’s innovative folding wingtips will also ease ramp and gate operations.
Boasting improved aerodynamics, the wings of the 777X will have the largest lift over drag ratio of any wing previously built by Boeing. The 777x family will also pioneer the use of touchscreen technology on the flight deck. Already popular amongst the world’s largest carriers, other 777x customers include All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines.
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