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Why Boeing Needs the 777X to Have A Smooth Path to Service

A 777X lines up on the runway to conduct taxi and brake tests at Paine Field. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

Earlier this week, Boeing announced it expected it’s Boeing 777X to make its first flight as soon as Jan. 23, an event that would put an end to a months-long delay that has only exacerbated the manufacturing giant’s financial troubles.

Originally, the company expected the 777X to first take flight in the second or third quarter of 2019, but issues with the engines on the aircraft — the new General Electric GE9X — meant the company had to indefinitely postpone the new type’s launch.

In late 2019, there were rumors of airlines potentially canceling their 777X orders as it became clear there would be no aircraft deliveries until at least 2021. Emirates and Lufthansa did end up reducing the size of their orders. And with no firm date set, airlines, shareholders and onlookers alike were left to wonder if the turmoil that continued to surround the Boeing 737 MAX would somehow be mirrored by the company’s struggles with the 777X.

“Our top priority remains the safe return to service of the 737 MAX, and we’re making steady progress,” then Boeing President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg said in a release of third-quarter earnings in October. “We’ve also taken action to further sharpen our company’s focus on product and services safety, and we continue to deliver on customer commitments and capture new opportunities with our values of safety, quality and integrity always at the forefront.”

Boeing’s 777X is powered by two General Electric GE9X engines. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

Regarding that desire to continue to deliver on customer commitments, having the opportunity to set a firm timeline for the aircraft’s first foray into the skies, arguably the most important step on the path to its first delivery, will see Boeing finally have a chance to set a target that it, as a company, can attack. Until now, the company has been subjected to the FAA’s processes regarding the 737 MAX, but the 777X is again truly in the company’s hands.

This success, however, is just one on a long list of objectives that the company must meet before it can hope to see a more favorable outlook in the near future.

The 777X is the first new aircraft Boeing will have hit the market after the failures of the 737 MAX. The world will be watching to see how the manufacturer, the FAA and every other party involved between now and its entrance into service, treat the process. The scrutiny will be nearly unmatched, but after the past nine months, it is a burden Boeing will simply have to shoulder.

Close up of the new folded winglets of the Boeing 777X. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

Any further hiccups in the coming months could prove extraordinarily important to Boeing’s bottom line in the near future. While the company, many believe, is simply “too big to fail,” airlines around the world will be on the lookout for any instability as they continue to weigh the option of switching orders to any number of other Airbus aircraft.

This year will be one in which Boeing has the opportunity to write its future. In one version, the 737 MAX and 777X both continue to have successes, the MAX making it back to commercial flight and the 777X making it ever closer to its commercial debut. But in the other, failures on both fronts cause the company to continue to suffer as competitor Airbus continues to soar. While which future it has may not be entirely up to Boeing, it has to keep moving forward if it hopes to keep battling with Airbus in the years and decades ahead.

Parker Davis


  • Parker Davis

    Parker joined AirlineGeeks as a writer and photographer in 2016, combining his longtime love for aviation with a newfound passion for journalism. Since then, he’s worked as a Senior Writer before becoming Editor-in-Chief of the site in 2020. Originally from Dallas and an American frequent flyer, he left behind the city’s rich aviation history to attend college in North Carolina, where he’s studying economics.

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