Given the enormous difficulties that Boeing has had to meet FAA requirements to re-certify the 737 MAX, plans to put the new 777X widebody jet into service in 2021 seem quite difficult. It is the conclusion reached by Emirates Airline, the model’s biggest customer, which recently said it was planning to receive the first plane only in 2022.
But for Lufthansa, the launch customer for the world’s largest twin-engine passenger, the first 777-9 is due to be delivered next year. In response to the Aero Telegraph website, a spokesman for the German carrier stated that the company has the aircraft throughout 2021.
Lufthansa ordered 20 units of the 777-9 variant, the largest of the new model, while Emirates placed an original order for 150 aircraft, but it was reduced to 115 units at the end of 2019.
Boeing launched the 777X program with the goal of offering a large-capacity widebody to be an alternative to four-engine aircraft such as the 747 and A380. To attract customers, airframer introduced several improvements seen in the 787 Dreamliner such as a lighter fuselage, large wings and more efficient engines. Thanks to this, the new 777-9 manages to be 21% more efficient than the popular 777-300ER.
However, the flight test program is long overdue. The first plane flew only in January and six months later Boeing has two aircraft carrying out the certification program. According to the FlightRadar24 website, the first prototype (N779XW), has already performed flights over six hours long, while the second airplane (N779XX), stayed at most just over three hours in the air.
Boeing aims to receive FAA 777X certification in early 2021. However, the aircraft will have the arduous task of obtaining approval from the U.S. agency shortly after the 737 MAX scandal, which prompted the US government to review the entire commercial aircraft certification procedure.
According to the US manufacturer, the third test 777X is due to make its maiden flight in the coming weeks. Until May, Boeing claimed to have 309 firm orders for the aircraft.