Although not destined for the skies, the first 777X has taken flight by quietly and efficiently rolling out of the Everett factory overnight on September 7.
Referred to as the static airplane, the first 777X off the production line is destined for a nearby building where it will be prepared for nearly year-long testing that begins in late 2018.
“After years of hard work it is exciting to see the static airplane come together,” said Danielle Hovington, Structures Engineering lead who worked on the static airplane. “This is just the beginning – with testing expected to start in the next few months, the rewarding part of the job is yet to come.”
Although 777X testing has been underway since 2015 in lab environments, wind tunnels and simulations, a full-scale airplane is needed to verify the design strength and the accuracy of the analytical model used during design.
“Static test is our opportunity to verify the design of the structure and load bearing components of the airplane, ensuring the final product is safe for our customers and the flying public,” said Doreen Bingo, Boeing Test & Evaluation 777X Test Program manager. “Using a full-scale airplane, we’ll run various load conditions on the wings, gears, the struts and the fuselage.”
During previous static testing, wings have been tested at 150 percent of the designated load; resulting in a wing flexing more than 26 feet.
Testing is scheduled to begin in late 2018 and will run for one year. Flight test airplanes are in production now, with the flight test program to begin in 2019. Deliveries to customers are expected to begin in 2020.
The 777X will be the largest and most efficient twin engine jet in the world, with 12 percent lower fuel consumption and 10 percent lower operating costs than the competition, according to Boeing. The family includes the 777-8 and the 777-9 – both designed to respond to market needs and customer preferences.
By Karen Crabtree and Bret Jensen