Boeing on Thursday announced the first flight of the second test aircraft of the 777X, the world’s largest twin-engine passenger aircraft. Internally designated as WH002, the jet registered as N779XX performed a 2-hour, 58-minute flight manned by Capt. Ted Grady, 777X project pilot, and Capt. Van Chaney, 777/777X chief pilot.
According to Boeing, the second prototype “will test handling characteristics and other aspects of airplane performance. An array of equipment, sensors and monitoring devices throughout the cabin allows the onboard team to document and evaluate the airplane’s response to test conditions in real time.”
The US manufacturer will use four aircraft for the 777-9 certification program, the largest variant of the new widebody, with a capacity for 426 passengers in two classes of service.
Boeing resumed its 777X development program last week when the first test plane returned to take a flight. The aircraft, which made its maiden flight on January 25 after several months of delay, has already accumulated 100 flight hours, according to the planemaker.
This milestone allowed the team can safely add personnel to monitor testing onboard instead of relying solely on a ground-based telemetry station, unlocking testing at greater distances.
The 777X program was launched in 2013, with production starting in 2017. Boeing still targets the first delivery of the new jet in 2021, to Lufthansa – the company claims to have 330 orders from eight customers.
The production rate of the new aircraft, however, will be low in the coming years. This week, Boeing announced that the assembly line for the 777 will be only three planes a month, including the classic variant.
In addition to the 777-9, Boeing will also have the smallest 777-8, which has a range of 8,730 nautical miles (16,170 km), but its development is suspended.