Boeing confirmed that the 777X met a key milestone on its route to entry into service in 2020, namely the firming of the aircraft configuration. This means that the basic trade-offs have been evaluated to finalize the aircraft’s capabilities and design. This includes evaluating the results of wind-tunnel tests, aerodynamic performance and structural load requirements to ensure that the new aircraft will meet its range and fuel economy goals. Boeing can now confidently say that the new airplane’s specifications are firm, rather than developmental, when the speak with customers.
The configuration process includes Boeing working with key suppliers finalize the basic design and develop a set of performance criteria around which the aircraft will be built. The next step for the team is to begin detailed design of parts, assemblies, and systems for the aircraft, which lead to specifications and production.
One of the key improvements over the existing 777 will be the all new composite wing, which will be about 20% larger than the current wing. Because of its size, it will have a folding wing-tip to enable it to utilize existing wide-body gates. A new video from Boeing on the 777X wing is featured here.
The good news for Boeing is that the program remains on schedule. Bob Feldman, Vice President and General Manager of the 777X program indicated “The program is right where we want it to be. We have an airplane and production system that are on track and on schedule, and we remain laser focused on meeting our commitments to our customers.” With five years until introduction of a derivative program, Boeing is taking the lessons learned form the 787 and has allocated more time than would typically be required for a derivative program to ensure that it will be on time, even should unexpected circumstances occur.