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Tamara Hardingham-Gill, CNN
Described as “the world’s largest and most efficient twin-engine aircraft”, the Boeing 777X was originally scheduled to enter service in 2020, but the jetliner’s launch has been hampered by delays.
Now slated for 2025, the aircraft’s most striking exterior feature is undoubtedly its folding wingtips – a first for commercial aviation.
But what will it look like from the inside? This month, Boeing proudly displayed a test version of the 777-9X, one of two 777X variants, at the Farnborough Airshow, a UK-based aviation trade event, giving a glimpse of this what passengers can expect.
The 777 has been a huge success for Boeing since entering service in 1995 and remains the best-selling jumbo jet. The 777X is the successor to the popular but aging 777-300ER and is expected to become one of the aircraftmaker’s mainline jetliners.
One of the most remarkable things about the experimental aircraft, aside from being loaded with surveillance equipment, is how huge it is.
Measuring 251 feet, the aircraft seats 426 passengers in a standard two-class configuration, and is longer than its predecessor the 777-300ER (242 feet 4 inches) and the Airbus A350-1000, which is just over 242 feet.
In the demonstration aircraft, much of the space inside the cabin is currently occupied by test stations, as well as huge water tanks used to balance the aircraft during harsh conditions. test.
Although the plane has the same external width as the 777, its sidewalls are thinner, so there is enough room for 10 18-inch-wide economy class seats.
Then there are the windows. Not only are they about 16% larger than those of the 777, but they have also been installed higher on the fuselage to provide passengers with more natural light and a better view.
There were no overhead bins inside the 777-9X demonstrator, but Boeing said those installed on board will be able to hold twice as much as normal bins and will require 40% less force to close.
According to Boeing, the best features of the 777 and 787 Dreamliner families have been brought together for the 777X, with additional advancements, and the similarities are clear.
“It has the same passenger characteristics as the Dreamliner,” says Julie O’Donnell of the Boeing Commercial Airplanes Communications team. “So LED lighting and the best humidity.”
Like the Dreamliner, the 777X can maintain a lower cabin altitude of 6,000 feet, which “helps with fatigue,” a flight test crew member told CNN Travel during a tour of the facility. aircraft, as well as improved technology to “counter turbulence”.
The 775,000 pound aircraft is powered by General Electric GE9X engines, the most powerful engines ever fitted to a commercial airliner. These consume 10% less fuel than those used on current 777s.
Inside the cockpit, the cockpit incorporates touch screens that can support multiple touch points, allowing two pilots to interact with their section of the lower screen simultaneously.
James Hanley, one of the test pilots on the plane, praised the “modern” system, saying it was a hit with pilots.
One of the many controls installed inside is used to operate the plane’s folding wings, which have a wingspan of just over 233 feet (71 meters).
The carbon fiber reinforced polymer fenders have been specially designed to allow the aircraft to accommodate the same gates, taxiways and runways as the 777.
While this design feature is not unusual on Navy fighter aircraft built to land on an aircraft carrier, it is the first time that folding wingtips have been installed on a commercial airliner.
As a result, the United States Federal Aviation Administration drafted new regulations for the 777-9X and the 777-8X, its sister aircraft.
The 777-9 underwent “rigorous” flight testing, both on the ground and in the air, and made good progress, according to the test team.
The aircraft made its maiden flight back in January 2020 and now has over 2,400 logged flight hours.
It wasn’t just part of the static display at the premier Farnborough Airshow to be held since 2019.
Attendees were treated to a spectacular aerial display as the plane took to the skies at a near vertical angle, before performing a number of impressive maneuvers, much to the delight of the crowd below.
“I never get tired of watching people see the plane fly,” O’Donnell told CNN Travel shortly before the awe-inspiring sight.
The plane is now back at Boeing Field in Seattle and has “resumed regular operations”.
This latest high-profile appearance comes months after Boeing announced its delivery had been pushed back to 2025 due to “an updated assessment of how long it will take to meet certification requirements.”
Boeing has received around 376 orders for the 777X.
Qatar Airways will be the first airline to receive the plane, according to chief executive Akbar Al Baker, who told reporters at the Farnborough Airshow that he was considering placing a “larger order”.
The Qatari state-owned flag carrier then finalized an order for 25 of Boeing’s 737 MAX 10 jetliners, while Delta Air Lines announced plans to buy 100 of the largest variant Boeing’s 737 Max, which was also on display at the aerospace event.
In March 2019, the MAX was grounded for 20 months following two fatal accidents. This was lifted in November 2020 after software updates and revised pilot training. Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal said the aerospace company has received “high demand” for the MAX since it returned to the skies.
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Chris Sloan also contributed to this report.