Boeing has just revealed a test model of their upcoming 777X jetliner.
It’s not exactly flight-worthy, as it lacks the engines, avionics, and most of the internal cabin that it will eventually have when it’s done. It’s a static test plane designed to test the structural integrity of the hull and to confirm the accuracy of the manufacturing process. All the tests will be performed on the ground.
"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," Boeing test manager Doreen Bingo told CNN. "Using a full-scale airplane, we'll run various load conditions on the wings, gears, the struts, and the fuselage."
The test fuselage will undergo testing this year for its eventual debut as a real airplane in 2020. If all goes as planned, Boeing will begin deliveries in 2021.
Once finished, the 777X will be one of the most technically advanced jetliners ever made using many of the same technologies pioneered on the 787 Dreamliner.
There will be two versions of the 777X: the shorter 777X-8, and the longer-hulled 777X-9. The 777X-8 will seat 365 passengers and have a range of 8,690 nautical miles (16,000 km)--almost the same as the 747.
The 777X-9 will seat 414 and have a range 7,525 nautical miles (14,000 km). It will also be the world’s largest twin-engine jetliner with a wingspan of 235 feet and 5 inches. That extra large wingspan is possible thanks to specially made carbon fiber wings that are both lighter and stronger than conventional aluminum and gives the plane additional lift, helping save on fuel costs. The 777X will save 12% more jet fuel than an Airbus A350.
Power comes from next-generation General Electric GE9X-105B1A turbofans that produce a combined 105,000 lbs of thrust. These incredible engines allow the 777X to perform the same long-range flights as what used to only be done with quad-engined airliners like the A380 or 747. This allows the 777X to save on maintenance as well as fuel costs in comparison to older aircraft.
Here’s hoping that testing proceeds without a hitch so that this bird can one day fly like an eagle.