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777X: A 4-hr flight for Boeing. A giant leap for aviation

Vicky Kapur (From the Executive Editor's Desk)
Filed on January 27, 2020 | Last updated on January 27, 2020 at 11.03 am

(AP)

The first 777X delivery is scheduled for early next year, and Boeing says it will deliver the flight experience of the future.

I remember being on the first-ever A380 aircraft that Dubai's Emirates airline received from the Airbus factory in Hamburg, Germany, in July 2008. In a stellar ceremony, Airbus' then-CEO Tom Enders presented the superjumbo to Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and CEO of Emirates Group. The picture is still etched in my mind: hundreds of Airbus employees in blue tees lined up on either side of the red carpet as Sheikh Ahmed and Emirates' then-CEO Tim Clark were escorted to the giant aircraft by Enders and Airbus COO John Leahy.

I was part of global media that flew back on the superjumbo to Dubai along with Sheikh Ahmed, who made no efforts to hide the fact that he was delighted to add the world's largest passenger airliner to Emirates' fleet. With only a handful of us on that giant plane, we moved around freely during the flight, from Economy to Business to First, marvelling at its features-loaded interiors. I remember Sheikh Ahmed telling a bunch of us eager journos that he believed that the aircraft was set to be one of the pillars of Emirates' future growth. He was spot on. Set to retire from production next year, the A380 has left an indelible mark not only on Emirates' remarkable growth story but also on the global aviation landscape.

And now Emirates is backing the next big thing (literally and figuratively) in the skies, the Boeing 777X, the plane with the world's biggest twin-jet engines ever and the longest wings (and folding wingtips) to roll our from the factory of the American manufacturer. The Dubai-based airline had ordered a world-record 150 of the 777X aircraft almost seven years before this Saturday's successful test flight of Boeing's most expensive plane ever. In light of the recent 737 Max fiasco, this was a test-flight that the aviation industry watched with bated breath. The aircraft's successful four-hour flight means that it will now get into the next phase of its rigorous test programme.

The first-ever 777X is scheduled to be delivered to Emirates next year (a year later than first anticipated) and, as per the manufacturer, will be the largest and most fuel-efficient commercial plane on the planet. That's a tall claim, one that Emirates - and a host of other airlines - would have checked and rechecked before pledging billions of dollars to Boeing. The 777X, says Boeing, will deliver the flight experience of the future. We're waiting.


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