Boeing suspends the B777X flight test program following a technical engine issue

Boeing, the US aerospace giant, has temporarily halted the flight test program of its upcoming 777X aircraft. The president of Emirates, Sir Tim Clark, said that the flight testing of Boeing 777X was suspended pending a potential issue with GE9X engines. Let’s take a closer look at the issue.

Engine issue detected

On October 6, 2022, a Boeing 777-9, registered N779XW, suffered a technical glitch on one of its engines. When the operator observed a temperature alert, the aircraft was performing flight tests on the Seattle-Moses Lake. One of the 777X’s GE9X power plants during the test runs failed.

The power plants equipped in this aircraft is the General Electric’s highest-time engine during the flight test program. The twin-engine GE9X, supplied by GE Aviation, has logged in +2600 flight cycles and approximately 1700 hours of run time.

Boeing 777X
Photo from Boeing.com

After the engine glitch, the concerned officials temporarily stopped the latest twinjet airliner’s flight program. General Electric Aviation, the manufacturer of the related engine, made the potential issue findings at the time of the borescope engine inspection. Then, the plane maker Boeing and the engine maker GE agreed to remove the engine part and take it to General Electric in Peebles, Ohio. GE Aerospace is running further engineering tests in its Ohio facility and assessing the technical snag during GE9X post-certification engineering testing. The engine supplier stated that it was working closely with Boeing on its findings to support the resumption of flight tests.

Boeing acknowledges the issue of 777X

Although the engine glitch incident occurred nearly two months ago, the US plane manufacturer affirmed the issue only a few days earlier. The mega aerospace giant stated,

“We support GE Aerospace as they asses a recent GE9X engine issue and will resume airplane testing once their thorough process and appropriate actions are complete. Safety is our top priority, and our supplier and technical teams will take the time necessary to support the review as we work transparently with our customers and regulators.”

Although there are four Boeing 777X prototypes for the testing program, none have taken to the skies since the engine failure incident. Besides N7779XW, the other three test aircraft bear the registrations N779XX, N779XY, and N779XZ.

Is Boeing 777X’s delivery date delayed?

Boeing 777X, designed to be the world’s largest twin-engine jet, operated its first flight on January 25, 2020. Proposed in the early 2010s, Boeing had forecasted the 777X introduction in 2019. Despite Boeing’s target for an aggressive flight test schedule, the Boeing 737 Max crash delayed the maiden flight and certification program. Moreover, engine issues and resource shifts pushed back the 777X delivery timeline.

After numerous delays, the new Boeing jet was expected to achieve its type certificate in mid to late 2023 and get its first delivery before 2023 end. However, in April 2022, Boeing pushed the first 777X delivery again to 2025 in light of the updated assessment of the time required to meet 777X certification requirements. The recent GE9X engine issues may affect the delivery date once again, adding to the pressure surrounding Boeing. Judging by the performance, airlines won’t likely receive the new mode of triple seven before 2025.

Boeing 777X

The recent technical incident can reflect badly on Boeing’s reputation and finance as it tries to recover from 737 Max groundings and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Time is running out

Boeing 777X is over five years late, and any additional delay can financially damage Boeing and the airline involved. Emirates, which has placed an order for more than 115 777Xs, has expressed great concern over delivery times.

Emirates president Sir Tim believed the delivery date could be at risk due to the October engine setback. He estimated that the test program could restart in January, and the first delivery could take place in July 2025. The mega Gulf carrier is desperately awaiting a new 777X fleet to replace its aging fleet. However, Sir Tim has made it clear that the Emirates won’t take delivery of 777Xs until they perform 100% to contract.

About Boeing 777X

Boeing 777X is an iconic twinjet aircraft in the Boeing 777 family featuring breakthroughs in aerodynamics and engines. It is a power-packed engineering marvel with avant-garde technology and new custom architecture and innovations. Once operational, it will be the world’s largest and most efficient jetliner, with a seating capacity of 384 (777-8) or 426 (777-9) passengers.

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