After a weather delay that forced Boeing to reschedule the maiden flight on Thursday and again on Friday, the new 777x finally took off today, bringing the largest twin-engine commercial aircraft to the skies. Today’s first flight, which took off from Everett, Washington, landed successfully about four hours later at Seattle’s Boeing Field. Today’s flight is part of a testing plan that’ll roll-out through the year to gain regulatory approval of the aircraft.
The new plane, known officially as the 777X-9, is the largest twin engine jet ever built. With a wide wingspan of more than 235 feet, Boeing engineers incorporated folding wingtips that can reduce the width by more than 20 feet. Similar to how a fighter jet folds its wings on an aircraft carrier, the 777X’s wings are designed in a way for the jumbo jet to fit at modern airports around the world; as such, existing taxiways and gates can be used without new construction.
The 777X is slightly longer than the hump-backed 747 that is designed to replace it in Boeing’s jet line-up. The 777X is 251′ 9″ long and while the latest 747-8 is 250′ 2″ long; the new jet is 4″ more narrow than the 747. With it’s 52,300 gallon fuel tank, the 777X has an estimated range of 7,525 nautical miles. The jet carries a pricetag of $425.8 million.
While being built in the United States, the jet has no current U.S. customers. All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Ethiad Airways, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, and Singapore Airlines are the initial 777X customers.
While the 777x continues its certification process, Boeing continues to struggle with its 737 MAX aircraft. Boeing’s 737 Max single-aisle jetliners have been grounded since March after the second of two crashes, which together killed 346 people. Earlier in January, Boeing suspended production of the planes; airlines, including Southwest, American Airlines, and United have grounded their fleets through this summer and fall, resulting in thousands of flight cancellations over the months ahead. The FAA hasn’t provided any information to suggest when the 737 MAX will be certified to fly again.