Boeing’s 777X Can Fold the Tips of Its Wings. A First in Commercial Aviation?
The new generation of Boeing’s legendary wide-body jet 777, 777X is unique because its carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) wingspan is 235 feet (71.75 m) when extended, and 212 feet (64.82 m) on the ground, making it the largest aircraft in the world, but also too wide for most airport gates.
To tackle this issue, Boeing created a folding mechanism that reduces the wingspan by 11 feet (3.5 m) at the tips to allow the plane to fit into both taxiways and gates at airports. The 777X's folding wingtips are a first for commercial aviation. The airplane is also said to be the most sustainable twin-engine aircraft the world has ever seen.
Boeing’s innovative 777X made its global debut at the Dubai Air Show in August 2021. Boeing has previously said it plans to start delivering the 777X wide-body jet by late 2023, three years later than originally planned, partly because of an extended certification process after two fatal 737 Max jet crashes, Lion Air Flight 610 on October 29, 2018, and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on March 10, 2019, in which 346 people died.
Mike Fleming, a Boeing vice president, told reporters at the Dubai Airshow that the 737 Max crashes prompted the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to make Boeing take a closer look at its 777X systems. Fleming said, “The accidents caused us to reflect on development programs and what we do, and we're taking those lessons learned on the 737 Max and extending those onto the next development programs”. The aircraft was tested over 1,700 hours in more than 600 test flights.
The first big improvement from the 777 series is by far the huge wing of the 777X. Although the 777X has many features from previous generations of the 777 family, the wing is an all-new composite construction, lighter in weight, and optimized for efficiency. Increased wingspan makes the aircraft more aerodynamic while folding the tips of the wings allows it to work at the same airports as the previous generations of the 777 family.
777X’s elongated wingspan and the improvements in design and technology mean it promises a 10 percent reduction in fuel burn and CO2 emissions, alongside a 10 percent improvement in operating economics.
The aircraft will seat up to 425 passengers.
The highly anticipated 777X already has orders from eight airlines, which are, All Nippon Airways, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, and Singapore Airlines.
In October, Emirates slammed Boeing for not being clear on the delivery dates.
Boeing seems to recover from 737 Max disasters by improving both its safety and design.