That’s not supposed to happen…
When Airbus announced the end of production for the double decker Airbus A380, all eyes shifted to Boeing. The aerospace giant had already announced what many see as the replacement for the A380, the 777X – which will become the world’s largest two engine, single deck passenger plane. To put the new bird into perspective, it’s so large and so wide, that the wing tips must fold up for taxi around the airport to stay within the confines. But lately, things aren’t going all that hot for the 777X program and this weekend the plane suffered a significant set back.
After Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates, lambasted airplane makers this week for failure to maintain delivery schedules or flight reliability standards, Boeing encountered yet another setback to the much anticipated 777-9, better known as the 777X, which is due for delivery to launch customer Emirates in 2020. During a key “stress test”, where the plane is pressurised under extreme conditions to simulate worst case scenarios an aircraft could encounter, an aircraft door blew off.
To be extra clear: that’s absolutely not supposed to happen.
Making matters better, or worse depending which lens you’re looking through, it’s reported that the FAA was in the building supervising the test when the incident occurred, which forced Boeing to halt the demonstration. Boeing subsequently released a statement on the matter…
“During ultimate load testing on the 777X static test airplane, an event occurred that forced the test team to halt testing. Safety is the highest priority at Boeing. The test team followed all safety protocols and there were no reported injuries. The team is currently working to understand what happened and ensure the area is safe for work to continue.
The ultimate load test is the latest in a series of tests that Boeing has been conducting on this full-scale test airplane over the past several months.”
This is now the second set back in nearly as many months for the much anticipated Boeing 777X, after General Electric announced a need to redesign compressor parts on the revolutionary GE9X engine, which will be the most powerful airline engine in the world, once launched. All the above has airlines scrambling to understand just when they can actually expect these mammoth new planes to be delivered, and if 2020 is still a reality.
Lufthansa was first announced as the launch customer for the 777X, but after Emirates placed a massive order for 150 aircraft, it was able to leapfrog the German carrier and grab dibs on the first delivery. Whereas the delivery schedule was slated for early 2020, it’s hard to imagine that these stress test failures and engine delivery delays won’t push that back considerably further.