Uche Usim, Abuja
Aircraft manufacturing giant, Boeing has unveiled the B777X, reputed to be the longest passenger jetliner in the world.
The gigantic aircraft was presented to the company’ employees inside the airframer’s main wide-body manufacturing facility in Everett, Washington.
The crash of Ethiopian Airlines B737 MAX last Sunday stalled the formal unveiling ceremony hitherto slated for Wednesday. The event had to be reduced to a low-key, in-house arrangement.
The new 777X is 252 feet, longer than its predecessor, the 777-300ER, and the super-stretched Airbus A340-600.
It’ll even be longer by a nose than the current record-holder, the 747-8, the latest version of Boeing’s own “Queen of the Skies” whose aviation-changing ancestor flew 50 years ago.
With its maiden test flight expected later this spring, the 777-9 is the larger of the two 777X models that make up Boeing’s jetliner programme.
The mega jet is designed to seat between 400 and 425 passengers in two classes, and fly routes of 7,600 nautical miles, more than 14,000 kilometers.
The number of seats will vary depending on what each airline picks for the interior, but it promises to be the biggest twin-engine airliner of all time when it starts flying passengers in 2020.
A second, no-less-impressive but smaller model will follow. The 777-8 will seat between 350 and 375 passengers and have an endurance of more than 17 hours aloft. Covering 8,700 nautical miles, or more than 16,000 kilometers, the plane is Boeing’s challenger to the Airbus A350ULR’s crown as the world’s longest-range airplane.
Eight airlines have placed 358 orders and commitments for the new jetliner. Dubai-based Emirates will get the first 777-9 next year and the 777-8 will follow two years later.
Even though the outer fuselage diameter of the new plane is the same as that of the 25-year-old 777, Boeing has re-engineered the inside of the barrel to be able to update the interior.
By changing the design of the cabin sidewalls and the support structures behind, the cabin will be about four inches wider than the legacy plane. That might not sound like much, but it could translate to almost a half-inch of additional seat width compared to the currently cramped 10 economy class passengers sitting in each row in most 777s.