Boeing has postponed the rollout of its 777-X aircraft in response to the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8.
The official unveiling was due to occur at Boeing’s Everett facility in Washington State just outside Seattle on March 13 in front of company staff, suppliers, invited guests and media.
However, the public ceremonies and media events for the external debut of the aircraft of the 777-X have been cancelled as Boeing focused on supporting Ethiopian Airlines after its Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa on Sunday March 10.
Boeing indicated it would look for an opportunity to mark the new aircraft with the world in the near future. There was no date for the rescheduling of any events related to the 777-X rollout.
Launched in 2013, the 777-X family of aircraft comprise the 777-8X and 777-9X variants. The pair is an upgrade from Boeing’s in-production 777-200LR and and 777-300ER.
The 777-8X and 777-9X will be powered by General Electric GE9X engines. Flight tests for those engines began in March 2018.
Other new features include composite wings with folding wingtips to maintain its Code E rating at airports, as well as in-cabin enhancements such as larger overhead stowage and a wider cross section.
The 777-9X is 77 metres in length, has a total wingspan of 72 metres and is capable of flying 7,600nm when carrying 400-425 passengers in a two-class configuration according to Boeing figures.
It has been pitched as the ideal replacement for the very large aircraft segment of the market.
Meanwhile, the 777-8X is still in development and yet to reach firm configuration. The Boeing website lists the aircraft as having a range of 8,700nm and a passenger capacity of 350-375 passengers. The aircraft is expected to enter service in 2022.
Boeing regarded the 777-8X as a potential replacement for the in-service 777-300ER.
The 777-X is a contender for Qantas’s Project Sunrise ambition for an aircraft to operate nonstop from Australia’s east coast to London and New York. Airbus has put forward its A350 platform for Project Sunrise.
The first completed 777-9X, used for static testing, emerged from final assembly in September 2018.
On February 20, Boeing released pictures of four 777-X flight test aircraft undergoing final assembly on its Twitter account.
Can you spot all of the #777X flight test airplanes? We'll give you a hint, there are 4! 😉 Our amazing teams continue to make progress as we prepare to roll out the world's most efficient large twin-engine airplane. Rollout date coming very soon, stay tuned! #avgeek pic.twitter.com/XxVv56X7ka
— Boeing Airplanes (@BoeingAirplanes) February 20, 2019
The rollout ceremony for the first 777-9X represented the latest step in the program, with the flight test campaign expected to kick off later in 2019 and first delivery set for 2020. Boeing revealed the rollout date of March 13 on Twitter on March 5.
Our very first #777X flight test airplane will officially debut to the world on March 13th! Stay tuned to learn how you can watch it live. Check out the journey so far here: https://t.co/7twGuVZU1i pic.twitter.com/MyUnA1Thcd
— Boeing Airplanes (@BoeingAirplanes) March 4, 2019
There were 326 orders for the 777X program at January 31 2019, according to the Boeing website. The figure does not include British Airways’ recent signing for 18 777-9X and options for up to 24 more aircraft.
While the 326 figure included 25 aircraft for Etihad Airways – comprising eight 777-8X and 17 777-9X – it was reported in February 2019 that the Abu Dhabi-based carrier was restructuring its order book and committing to take only six of the 777-X aircraft over the coming years.