One year ago to the day, on January 25th, 2020, Boeing’s much-anticipated flagship aircraft, the 777X, took its first flight. The new widebody took off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, powered by a pair of purpose-built GE9X engines at 10:09 local time. Simple Flying was at the scene and could report how the crowd cheered when the characteristic folded wingtips lowered ahead of take-off. Since then, it has completed over 500 test flights.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
Third time is the charm
The plane was held for a substantial amount of time at the end of the runway, waiting for ideal weather conditions. Had the January weather been more cooperative, this anniversary would instead have been celebrated two days earlier. Boeing had intended to send the 777X on its maiden voyage on January 23rd. However, it was then postponed one day due to thunderstorms.
Meanwhile, as January 24th came around, the wind refused to die down, and the behemoth plane’s first flight was delayed once more in the name of safety. Finally, a year ago to this day, it was third time lucky for the 777X and her pilots. Skies were still grey and overcast, but this time the clouds were more benign. Boeing’s new giant bird and engineering marvel could finally get off the ground and do what she was meant to.
The first Boeing #777X is in flight. After a few hours of flying, the jet will land at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington.
— Boeing Airplanes (@BoeingAirplanes) January 25, 2020
The first flight lasted for three hours and 51 minutes. The plane, registered as N779XW, was back on the ground at 14:00 local time. However, it did not return to Paine Field but went to Boeing Field (BFI), also known as King County International Airport, Washington.
Over 500 flights for the Triple Seven X
Since then, Boeing has added another three aircraft to its test flight program. The second, N779XY, joined the efforts in May. The third, N779XX, which is meant to go to Lufthansa, took its first flight in August. Finally, the fourth, N779XZ, made its maiden voyage in September last year. As easily deductable from the registrations, they are all 777-9s.
All in all, according to data from FlightRadar24.com, the four Triple Seven Xs have collectively completed over 500 flights. The majority of these have, unsurprisingly, been operated by N779XW, with -XY not far behind. N779XX and -XZ have operated under ten and twenty flights, respectively.
Mostly they have been flying from and returning to Boeing Field, but the planes have also been frequent guests on the runway of Moses Lake (MWH), also in Washington. They have also flown to Yuma (YUM) in Arizona, Spokane (GEG) in Washington, and Victorville (VCV) in California. Moreover, there has also been the occasional visit to Glasgow. That is GGW, for Glasgow Valley County Airport, Montana.
Close to a year’s wait for flight
If you have been following the development of the 777X, you know that it was initially meant to take to the skies much sooner than January last year. The first test plane rolled out of the factory already in March 2019. However, continuing issues with the GE9X engines caused Boeing to push the awaited maiden flight to early 2020.
The best-laid plans can be thwarted not only by engine troubles but, of course, by the most encompassing global crisis aviation has ever faced. Although the testing program is now progressing, actual entry into service for the 777X remains, for now, an unknown variable. For one, Emirates has confirmed it will not take delivery of its first of the type until 2023 – potentially even 2024.
When do you think we will see the 777X carry passengers? Are you looking forward to its entry into service? Let us know in the comments.