Boeing says it will officially unveil the first 777-9X to the world at its Everett facility just outside Seattle on March 13.
The company revealed the date of the roll out on its @BoeingAirplanes Twitter page.
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
The rollout ceremony for the first 777-9X is the latest step in the program, with the flight test campaign expected to kick off later in 2019 and first delivery set for 2020.
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
Then, on February 27, again on Twitter, the aerospace giant offered a glimpse of a 777-X being painted.
— Boeing Airplanes (@BoeingAirplanes) February 27, 2019
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.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president of marketing Randy Tinseth recently described the 777-9X as “definitely the best big airplane in the market in the future”, given its capacity, range and operating economics.
“It’s the airplane that will replace the 747-400, ultimately the 747-8, and it is going to replace the A380,” Tinseth told reporters on the sidelines of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) assembly of presidents in Jeju, South Korea on October 19.
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.
Tinseth described the 777-8X as “really about the replacement for the 777-300ER”.
“We’re not going to see that replacement cycle for that aircraft until we get into the next decade,” Tineseth said.
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.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the aircraft under consideration would, at this stage, would not be able to have a full passenger payload year round on some of these routes.
However, Joyce said the aircraft being looked at for Project Sunrise would also have to operate on other routes in the Qantas network.
“What we have to have is an aircraft that not only can fly Sydney-London or Sydney-New York, Melbourne-London, Melbourne-New York, but also can be rotated to do Sydney-Hong Kong and Sydney-LA,” Joyce told reporters at Qantas’s first half results presentation on February 21.
“That means all of the seats have to be useable on those routes.”
Meanwhile, Air New Zealand has also previously raised the prospect of being able to operate nonstop from its Auckland hub to the east coast of North and South America. It is currently mulling over which aircraft will replace its fleet of eight Boeing 777-200ERs, with the 777-X, 787 and A350 the three options.
Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon told analysts at the airline’s 2018/19 first half results presentation on February 28 he was aiming to place an order before June 30 2019, with the aircraft be due for delivery by late calendar 2022.
“We’re looking to make an announcement this half of the year,” Luxon said.
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.
VIDEO: Boeing details on its YouTube channel the 777-X’s flightdeck design and philosophy.