Boeing successfully completed on Saturday the maiden flight of the world’s largest twin-engined jetliner as the embattled plane maker steps up competition with European rival Airbus in a respite from a crisis over its smaller 737 MAX.
The 777X, a larger and more efficient version of Boeing’s successful 777 mini-jumbo, took off outside Seattle at 10:09 a.m. local time (1809 GMT) and landed at 2:00 p.m. (2200 GMT). Two earlier attempts were called off this week due to high winds.
Boeing officials said the maiden voyage would herald months of testing and certification before the aircraft enters service with Emirates in 2021, a year later than originally scheduled because of snags during development.
The aircraft is the larger of two versions planned by Boeing and will officially be known as the 777-9, but is better known under its development codename, the 777X.
Its most visible features include folding wingtips – designed to allow its large new carbon-composite wings to fit into the same parking bays as earlier models – and the world’s largest commercial engines, built by General Electric and wide enough to swallow the fuselage of a 737 MAX.
The successful flight was a boost for Boeing as it grapples with a broadening crisis over the 737 MAX, which has been grounded since March following two fatal crashes.