The world's longest and largest twin-engine aircraft, the Boeing 777X completed its maiden flight on Saturday. The new-generation model is particularly impressive because it has wings that can fold up, among other merits.
Folding wingtips and other features
The commercial aircraft has a host of features but one that stands out is its ability to fold its wingtips and shorten its wingspan. The movable wingtips cut down the aircraft's gargantuan wingspan from 235 feet down to just under 213 feet, allowing the jet to fit on existing airport taxiways and terminal gates where older 777s operate.
Thanks to this incredibly cool feature, airports won't have to undergo expensive modifications and renovations as it did to accommodate the Airbus A380's 261-foot wingspan when it debuted in 2007. The aircraft's other features include larger windows and a redesigned, wider passenger cabin and Boeing is also touting 10 percent better fuel efficiency than "the competition."
The 777X, made entirely out of composite materials, will be available in two models: the 777-8 and the 777-9, which will fit about 384 passengers and 426 passengers respectively.
When will it begin commercial operations?
Boeing has already received orders from eight airlines, including British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines. However, the aircraft will have to go through a series of tests and approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration and other aviation bodies worldwide before it can start being used commercially.
The jet already completed its first test flight on Saturday when a 777X test aircraft landed at Paine Field north of Seattle after a four-hour cruise over Washington state in the United States.
The 777X series is expected to be available for commercial use sometime in 2021. "This major milestone for the #777X aeroplane program begins the next critical phase of testing as we work towards certification and then delivery to customers in 2021," Boeing tweeted after the flight.
The successful flight is a win for the aviation company as it continues to deal with the consequences of two fatal crashes of its 373 Max that killed a total of 346 passengers and crew members over the last two years and also led to the grounding of the entire 737 MAX fleet.