Boeing announced successful maiden flight of the second 777X widebody airplane on Thursday.
The plane flew for 2 hours and 58 minutes over Washington state before landing at Seattle's Boeing Field at 2:02 p.m. Pacific.
Reporting dismal first-quarter results owing to the double whammy of coronavirus and 737 MAX grounding, the company said a day earlier that it plans to cut down production rates of some of its flagship aircraft, including the 777X.
The 777X includes the 777-8 and the 777-9, the newest members of Boeing's market-leading widebody family. The current production rate of the 777 and 777X combined is five per month. A cut of only two aircraft per month would take the plane maker’s annual output from 60 to just 36, a drop of more than a third.
Designated WH002, the airplane that flew on April 30 is the second of four in a dedicated flight test fleet and will test handling characteristics and other aspects of airplane performance. An array of equipment, sensors and monitoring devices throughout the cabin allows the onboard team to document and evaluate the airplane's response to test conditions in real time.
The 777X test plan lays out a comprehensive series of tests and conditions on the ground and in the air to demonstrate the safety and reliability of the design. To date, crews have flown the first airplane nearly 100 hours at a variety of flap settings, speeds, altitudes and system settings as part of the initial evaluation of the flight envelope. With initial airworthiness now demonstrated, the team can safely add personnel to monitor testing onboard instead of relying solely on a ground-based telemetry station, unlocking testing at greater distances.