The Air Current

That’s no Navy jet: As part of a periodic series of factory floor live broadcasts, Boeing gave a glimpse at the now “completed” 777X static test airframe. This first test aircraft will never fly. Instead, it will be fitted with simulated weights and strain gauges to punish the airframe, testing its structural limits before the 777X is cleared to fly.

At the very end of the first set of superlative carbon fiber composite wings (the spar alone is 105 feet) shown by Boeing are the jet’s new folding wingtips. Devoid of a both leading and trailing edge structure, the primary core of the 12-foot long folding tip is visible joined to the static test aircraft’s wing. The new folding mechanism will allow the 777X to fit onto taxiways and gates used by the smaller 777-300ER. The wingtip system was also designed as part of Boeing’s on-going efforts to use digital twin technology that fuses synchronized simulation and real world data to speed up design iteration.

The newly-designed system won’t be activated until Boeing begins to power-on and test WH001, the first 777-9 that is scheduled today to fly in late-March 2019. Parts for that airplane are sitting next to the static in the Everett factory on the company’s low-rate assembly line. -J.O.

The completed 777X wing prior to its attachment to the static test aircraft fuselage.

UPDATE: The static test airframe left the Everett factory late Friday evening on Sept. 7. The full scale of the longest commercial airliner ever developed is evident. The aircraft left the assembly line with its new wingtips in the folded position.

Boeing’s official photo of the 777X static airframe roll-out late Friday night.


Jon Ostrower is Editor-in-chief of The Air Current. Prior to launching TAC in June 2018, Ostrower served as Aviation Editor for CNN Worldwide, guiding the network's global coverage of the business and operations of flying. Ostrower joined CNN in 2016 following four and half years at the Wall Street Journal. Based first in Chicago and then in Washington, D.C. he covered Boeing, aviation safety and the business of global aerospace. Before that, Ostrower was editor of the award-winning FlightBlogger for Flightglobal and Flight International Magazine covering the development of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and other new aircraft programs from 2007 to 2012. Ostrower, a Boston native, graduated from The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs with a bachelor's degree in Political Communication. He is based in Seattle.

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