Video: Watch the Boeing 777X Test Aircraft Stretch Its Wings

Jun 19, 2019

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With concerns over its Boeing 737 MAX and a drought of orders coming into the Paris Air Show, until it landed a blockbuster order Tuesday, Boeing is certainly in need of some positive press. And it’s hoping to get that from its new Boeing 777X aircraft.

The newest version of its popular Boeing 777 family is currently undergoing certification testing after rolling out of the assembly line on March 13, with little fanfare in the wake of the second 737 MAX crash.

The Boeing 777X is longer than the current 777 models and sports a larger wingspan — so large that it needs folding wingtips. Today we are getting a first look at this unique feature.

With a wingspan stretching to 235 feet, which is more than the 225-foot wingspan of even the biggest Boeing, the 747-8, the 777X could have trouble fitting in tight airports. Thanks to this new design feature, the wingtips can be folded upward to narrow the wingspan to just under 213 feet. That will enable airlines to operate this aircraft in more airports without special accommodations.

Until now, we could only see animations of how this would work:

Now, we are getting a chance to see these wingtips in action on the Boeing 777X test aircraft:

This solution is so revolutionary that the Federal Aviation Administration had to come up with new regulations before approving the aircraft’s design. Locking mechanisms and systems are in place to make sure that the wingtips are extended before takeoff and will remain that way through landing. And in order to get regulatory approval, Boeing needed to prove that “no force or torque can unlatch or unlock the mechanisms.”

The airplane was originally expected to begin flying passengers in 2020 with launch customer Emirates, but it hasn’t made its first flight yet and a delay is likely. It comes in two variants, the 777-9 which will typically seat around 400 people and the shorter 777-8, which trades size in exchange for longer range. US-based flyers can expect 777Xs ordered by British Airways, Lufthansa, Etihad, Qatar Airways and ANA to serve North America once the type enters service. Compared to current 777s, it will have larger windows and a more humid cabin with a lower altitude. Boeing says this will result in a more comfortable ride, similar to the 787.

For more coverage of the Boeing 777X, check out:

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