Boeing’s latest wide-body jetliner, the 777X, has taken off for the first time as it begins test flights before it enters service with Emirates next year.
The world’s largest twin-engine jet began its test programme with a four-hour flight from Washington to Seattle after initial test flights were postponed last week due to bad weather.
Boeing’s 777X was initially scheduled to begin operating this year but a series of setbacks delayed its entry into service.
As the company grapples with the fallout from the 737 Max crisis, Boeing's 777X test programme will be closely watched by customers and regulators. The coming tests and the success of the 777X will be crucial for the planemaker's strategy to regain trust in the industry.
Airlines have ordered 340 777X’s so far and Boeing expects deliveries to commence in 2021. Carriers set to operate the new jet include ANA, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines.
The 777X is a larger, more advanced version of Boeing’s 777 and promises to generate 10% less in emissions and operating costs. It will use GE’s GE9X engines, which were designed specifically for Boeing’s jet. Cabin design is a combination of the 777 and 787 Dreamliner cabins.
Stan Deal, president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said: “Our Boeing team has taken the most successful twin-aisle jet of all time and made it even more efficient, more capable and more comfortable for all.
“Today's safe first flight of the 777X is a tribute to the years of hard work and dedication from our teammates, our suppliers and our community partners in Washington state and across the globe.”