Boeing’s latest aircraft, the B777X, is due to take to the skies for the first time today.
The maiden flight had been planned for January 23, but was postponed due to weather conditions in Washington, where a B777-9 model has been assembled in Boeing’s Everett factory.
The company said the broadcast will begin at 0925 PST (1725 in the UK), “subject to weather and other factors”.
The B777X is based on Boeing’s hugely successful widebody B777 aircraft. It will be the largest-ever twin-engine aircraft, capable of carrying more than 400 passengers, and is longer than a B747. It will come in -8 and -9 variants.
It has ‘folding wingtips’ which move up and down to allow it to move through existing infrastructure and around busy taxiways.
Airlines increasingly favour twin-engine aircraft over four-engine models due to their fuel savings. Boeing still produces the B747 due to demand for its use as a freighter, but Airbus will end production of the four-engine A380 in 2021.
Bloomberg reports that the B777 will be Boeing’s most expensive aircraft, priced at $442.2 million before discounts.
The launch comes after Boeing’s toughest-ever year, in which its reputation was called into question following two fatal crashes involving its B737 Max aircraft.
The Max has been grounded since March 2019 and is currently undergoing a recertification process. The company currently estimates it will return to the sky in June or July 2020.
The B777X has also faced production issues. Its first flight was scheduled for summer 2019, which was pushed back due to problems with its GE9X engines.
Boeing revealed in an earnings report in October that it does not expect to deliver the first aircraft until early 2021.
This has affected various airlines with the model on order.
The CEO of Emirates has said the airline’s plans are “very much driven by when these aircraft are going to be delivered to us,” with its growth being impacted by the delay.
Qatar Airways has postponed the retirement of its existing B777 fleet due to the delay.
Qantas recently announced it would use the Airbus A350-1000 rather than the B777X for its ultra-long-haul research flight programme, dubbed Project Sunrise, after making a “detailed evaluation” of both aircraft types.