Everett, Washington (CNN) – The world's largest and largest double aircraft, the Boeing 777-9X, has finally reached the sky for its first flight, offering a glimmer of hope for troubled US airline after months of difficult headlines.
After days of rough weather, the WH-001 plane took off from Paine Field, home of Boeing's large bodybuilder, north of Seattle, on Saturday morning.
The flight had been postponed twice earlier in the week due to poor weather, but as the aircraft sailed past the press area before takeoff, a rainbow appeared – perhaps offering a positive reputation.
When the time finally arrived, the WH-001 was greeted by a light eight-knot sky, six kilometers of visibility, and broken clouds at 3,000 feet, marking the 34Left runway at 9:08 am. local time.
As Boeing's new flagship rapidly gained speed, it left a torrent of spray in its wake. After only a 30-second take-off roll, the majestic turned gracefully into the skies.
The relieved and excited crowd burst into a thunderous applause, though it was somewhat crystallized by the agreement of the winged engines.
Great road to certification
The 777X-9 took off at 9:08 am local time.
Designed to carry up to 425 passengers on 7,600 nautical miles – the distance that will cover most long-haul routes – the 777-9X is expected to become one of Boeing's flagship aircraft in the coming years.
However, uncertainties over the fatal accidents that led to the worldwide grounding of the Boeing 737MAX series cast a shadow over the manufacturer's future.
As soon as the plane on Saturday, the first 777Xs swiftly descended into the clouds as they headed north from uninhabited areas and the coast of Washington on a flight route selected for safety reasons.
Climbing at an altitude of 14,000 feet and turning east, it landed on loops at Washington's central station, embarking on the first of many test flights on the difficult road to certification and possibly passenger service over the next 18 months.
The road at this time was difficult to say the least. And the obstacles Mother Nature threw in front of her journey for the first flight could easily be seen as a metaphor for Boeing and the entire program.
The day before, with fog at 2,000 feet, with rain and parachute winds of up to 29 knots, over 10,000 frustrated employees, journalists and VIPs were running for about five hours while the enormous 777-9X went magic next door. clearance for take-off.
It wasn't to be. At 1:30 pm On Friday with conditions not improving and the flight window closing, its first fate was cleared. It is almost a tradition that Boeing's first flights are going through amazing conditions, but this is the first time in memory that a flight had to be canceled due to data.
In normal times, a first flight of a new aircraft is a cause for celebration. Things like this maybe twice a decade.
But for Boeing, these are anything but normal times. After two deadly crashes on the 737MAX, the continued grounding of Boeing's most important aircraft – which is claimed to be responsible for 40% of the company's profits – caused one of the biggest crashes of the 104-year-old plane.
The impact has been felt throughout the global aerospace industry and the wider American economy. It is estimated that MAX earthing could cost a third to half a point loss in the short-term GDP of the US economy.
With production of MAX now in a deadlock, plus Boeing's revelation earlier this week that it did not expect the US Federal Aviation Administration to re-certify MAX as safe to operate by June or July of this year, the timing was almost optimal for new Boeing aircraft model to go to heaven ..
Although the speculation of a new Boeing plane continues to replace the 757/767 as the market average or the 737MAX with the future small aircraft, Boeing has not announced any new models beyond the 777X.
The introduction of an entirely new aircraft takes at least five to seven years.
Boeing has completed plans for the 777-9X, which has folding blades and is expected to be the world's largest twin engine when it launches in 2020.
The 777X, a program launched in November 2013, is the successor to the most successful wide-body aircraft ever built: the 777, which was first launched about 25 years ago.
The 777X is overpowering.
At 251 feet, the 777-9 is the longest commercial aircraft ever built. With an area of 9.4 feet above its 777-300ER predecessor, the 777-9 is capable of accommodating up to three additional rows of 10 seats in total, for up to 426 passengers in a standard two-class configuration.
All this and an increased range of 7,285 nautical miles – 220 miles more than the airplane it replaces.
With the A380 and 747-8 Intercontinental completing their journeys, the 777-9 stands alone as the largest passenger-built aircraft in the world. Its main competition, the Airbus A350-1000, is more like the smaller 777-300ER.
To raise the maximum take-off weight of this 775,000-pound beast in the air, Boeing has built a new carbon fiber-reinforced polymer wing with a wing height of just over 233 feet.
Each wing is the largest single composite structure in the world.
To fit the same gates, caravans and aisles as the current 777-300ERs, Boeing has individually designed 11-foot folding flaps that are deployed shortly before take-off and retracted during landing. Although this is common in navy fighter aircraft built to land on an aircraft carrier, the folding blades on airplanes are commercial first.
Underneath the wings are the largest, most powerful engines ever mounted on a commercial aircraft: the General Electric GE9X.
They develop an incredible 105,000 pounds of thrust while reducing fuel efficiency by 10% from the previous GE90 engine.
The diameter of the engines is as big as the fuselage 737.
However, or due to their oversized design and huge power requirements, the design compressors on the engine compressor have contributed significantly to the delay of the first flight of the 777X from 2018 to early 2019 and then to January 2020.
That being said, this is not an unusually long gestation in the recent history of new aircraft programs.
In a time of frightened flights and increased airline focus on environmental friendliness and efficiency, the 777X claims Boeing achieves a 13% net cost-per-seat increase compared to the 365-seat 777-300ER. . 29% reduction in emissions.
In fact, Boeing says its new flagship is 22% more efficient than the world's largest aircraft, the A380.
"The operational ecomomics of the previous generation 777s, which could carry almost as many people as the 777X with only two engines, were already significantly better than those of the A380," said Seth Kaplan, an airline analyst.
"Given that the 777X will be even more efficient, there is long-term hope for this airplane program, although market reception has not been high so far."
Economical, engineered and tip-topped, the 777X is designed to improve the passenger experience, not just in the premium cabin segment of the airplane.
Borrowing from its pioneering retainer, the 787 Dreamliner, Boeing's newest 777X has larger windows and a wider cabin that translates to wider seats (especially in economy).
The flight was a much needed success for Boeing.
A lower cabin altitude of 5,000 feet than the typical 8,000 feet of aircraft reduces the effects of fatigue and jet lag. The 777X also has higher humidity levels to reduce dehydration, cleaner air, less cabin noise and smoother driving technology.
So how and when do passengers expect to be seated on a new 777-9?
Even with increased control and certification tests, Boeing plans to enter service at the end of 2021 with Lufthansa.
Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and ANA complete the customer list.
Boeing has 308 fixed orders and 300 selections of these 440 million aircraft (at list prices, although discounts can cut costs by half).
However, the stability of these orders is uncertain with Gulf carriers, and Lufthansa is undoubtedly renegotiating and reducing its obligations, partly due to financial weakness.
Although the 777-300ER is extremely successful in America, North American orders have not yet come to fruition.
As the replacement cycle of the A380s and 777 Classics accelerates, Boeing expects the 777X order book to swell by the mid-decade.
But many industry analysts question whether this twin is now too big for the market as the smaller Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s have attracted far more orders in part due to the hub uptake bypassing the nonstop point-to-point service.
Will the 777X succeed in the market, especially with the ghost of the 737 MAX hanging there?
Industry leader Henry Harteveld, founder of Atmosphere Research, says there is uncertainty.
"The 777X is a smart derivative of the 777, but I'm not sure if the 777X will worsen successfully for Boeing as the commands remain lukewarm, partly due to the delay of GE engines, because the smaller 787 Dreamliner is such a good aircraft and because MAX has seriously damaged Boeing's reputation, "Harteveld says.
"The 777X is the youngest child whose older siblings are overachievers.
"I think the 777X will have a slow burn as an aircraft, where its success can come over time, as the 777X proves to be a reliable aircraft that meets or beats Boeing performance standards and once Boeing regains the confidence of its airline companies as a manufacturer. "
The plane reached the air after almost four hours.
The first flights are very rare and special, so in just a few hours, Boeing's airline and tires have fallen behind so everyone can enjoy the moment.
In an email to Boeing's global team, Boeing Commercial Airplane Chairman and CEO Stan Deal wrote: "I am extremely proud of all our teammates who designed, assembled and supported the 777X. Working together we can achieve great things things that make a difference in the world. "
The first flight was originally intended to last almost four hours, but for reasons that were not immediately clear, it was cut short.
As the aircraft went down, its landing lights infiltrated the 700-foot cloud and the crowd waited anxiously.
Just at 2:00 pm Local time, the 777-9X kissed the 15Right rain runway at Seattle's Boeing Field after three hours and 51 minutes high.
Airplane pilots describe the debut flight as "emotional".
The scale of the plane was evident as it unfolded, with the blades automatically returning to a 90 degree locking state at 60 mph exactly as predicted.
In the current climate, this first flight event was a lower key than previous similar events, but the crowd was no less grateful. Boeing employees needed a boost and they took it. The huge jetliner attracted an enthusiastic crowd of employees and customers.
The two pilots, Van Gandhi and Craig Boben, made a fiery applause, cheering and hugging their families and colleagues.
Looking at the journalists, they could contain their excitement.
"It was so fun," said Chaney, the pilot-in-command and chief pilot of the 777 / 777X pilot. "The moment we turned around and saw the hunting plane go by, it was very emotional."
VP of Bomden Operations added: "To see all the excitement of the runway staff and the excellent performance of the airplane made us extremely proud of the in-service airplane."