Boeing leading manufacturers has unveiled the first fully assembled Boeing 777X – the world’s longest passenger jetliner.
The launch, earlier scheduled for last Wednesday, was delayed due to the Ethiopian Airlines’ B737Max plane that crashed, killing all 157 souls aboard.
In the aftermath of the disaster, the second in five months, airlines in many parts of the world have grounded the B737Max 8 and 9 fleet, putting Boeing in crisis.
But as a mark of respect for those who died in the 737 Max 8 crash, it was instead unveiled in a low-key event that was only attended by Boeing employees.
Pictures posted to Twitter show the huge jet, which has foldable wing tips, inside a hangar at the Boeing plant surrounded by hundreds of people.
In one image, uploaded by the account Dj’s Aviation, Boeing staff can be seen snapping photos of it – and its enormous engines – on their phones.
Other pictures posted by aviation enthusiast, Katie Bailey, show the wheels and one of the engines up close.
The aircraft that was unveiled is a 777-9, the larger of two 777X models. It is expected to make its maiden test flight later in the spring.
Boeing claims that the 777X will be the largest and most efficient twin engine jet in the world, with 12 per cent lower fuel consumption and 10 per cent lower operating costs than the competition.
The 777-9 variant is 77 meters (252ft) long. The current longest passenger jet is the 747-8, which is 76.3 meters (250ft 2in) long.
As well as the folding wing-tips – the 235ft wings are the biggest Boeing has ever made, over 30ft longer than the current model’s wingspan – it also has bigger windows and overhead bins compared to the current 777 and ‘advanced LED lighting’.
The two versions of the 777X – the 777-8 and 777-9 – cost $360.5million and $388.7million respectively.
The 777-8 will be able to seat between 350 and 375 passengers and the 777-9 between 400 and 425, depending on the buyer’s layout requirements. In comparison. the current family of 777s offer capacities of between 300 and 370.
There is also an improvement with range. The 777X can fly for 16,110km (10,010 miles), compared to the 777’s maximum range of 15,800km (9,817miles).
Deliveries to customers are expected to begin in 2020. Carriers that have placed orders are British Airways, All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines.
Last year, Boeing released a video and pictures of a ‘static’ 777X rolling off the production line at the Everett factory. However, as it was a static model, it wasn’t destined for the skies, but instead built for a series of year-long tests.
The unveiling of the 777X comes at a troubling time for Boeing as its entire 737 Max 8 fleet has been grounded in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash that claimed the lives of all 157 on board.
The Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft en-route to Nairobi from Addis Ababa plunged to the ground just minutes after take off.