The 777X has faced many delays, but Boeing will finally get to demonstrate it at an airshow. And perhaps reveal some further news around it.
Things have been quite busy around Boeing in the past few years, to put it mildly. The manufacturer has faced challenges around three different programs: the MAX, the 787 and the 777X. In a way, problems around the latter are the most understandable. The new aircraft first faced delays because of its engines, then with the fuselage – all before its first flight.
The aircraft finally flew in January 2020. This meant that the pandemic struck before Boeing had a chance to showcase the 777X at an airshow. Boeing crews have performed flypasts with the big jet, but the public hasn’t had the chance to admire it yet. With cancellations hitting most airshows in the last twenty or so months, this isn’t entirely surprising.
Late For Display?
The original plan was for the 777X to make its airshow debut in Dubai, in 2019. This was the same plan that called for the plane to enter service in 2020. Obviously, neither happened. The plane’s testing program is progressing very slowly. The company is adamant that they have learned from the MAX, ensuring better communication throughout. But this introduces delays.
Also, unfortunately, it seems that the FAA is still unhappy with aspects of the project. Last December, Boeing stated that certification flights for the jet would start “soon”. They still haven’t. The FAA will participate in these flights, but they first need Boeing to sort out a laundry list of issues. And last we heard, the manufacturer was still working through it.
Months before this airshow, these FAA delays have caused some to doubt that the 777X will enter service in 2023. However, Boeing now says that this still remains the plan. In a briefing about the Dubai airshow, Boeing is adamant that the 777X will enter service within two years. If this happens, the plane’s development will have taken 10 years from its launch, in November 2013.
777X – Picking The Right Airshow
Having the first airshow appearance of the 777X in Dubai is quite fitting. Dubai is home to Emirates, who now have orders for 126 of the aircraft. Other future users of the large widebody probably don’t miss it yet. These airlines still haven’t fully ramped up operations with their existing large jets. Adding another one could wait. But as we saw recently, the same isn’t true for Emirates. The hub & spoke operator needs a big, efficient aircraft.
Nonetheless, the 777X will finally attend an airshow, still in Dubai, according to reports. However, as of this writing, the plane was not on the official airshow list yet. And perhaps more crucially, some observers expect Boeing to announce a 777X freighter at the show. This would be in response to the A350F, that Airbus announced in the summer.
Such an addition to the 777X program could challenge Boeing’s timeline further. But with interest from airlines in the Middle East, it could be a lucrative program. And an irresistible win against Airbus, who is also looking for a launch customer for the A350F in the same region.