While addressing the safety issues of the 737 MAX, Boeing has once again postponed the first flight of the 777X, the next generation of its largest twin-engine widebody. Before scheduled for the end of this year, the maiden flight will not take place until early 2020, according to a statement issued on Wednesday.
Despite the delay in the start of certification flights, the company still believes the jet will be put into service by the end of 2020 – Emirates Airline and Lufthansa will be the first customers of the 777-9, the model’s largest variant.
With a capacity of 426 passengers in two classes, the 777-9 has not reached many customers so far. Airlines have preferred the 787, with smaller capacity and three variants.
The aircraft was supposed to have flown for the first time at the end of the semester, but problems with its engine, the GE9X, have delayed the schedule. Largest turbofan ever developed, the engine presented a durability problem during a 150-hour certification endurance test and the solution will involve stator vane improvements in the second stage of the high-pressure compressor. GE, however, will still need a few months to develop and test the patches.
The announcement of the 777X schedule delay was made in a statement about Boeing’s results in the first half of this year. Affected by the grounding of the 737 MAX, the US manufacturer had a record loss of nearly $ 3 billion in the second quarter of 2019. Just as a benchmark, in the same period of 2018, Boeing had made a profit of $ 2.2 billion.
Deliveries of commercial jets in this period totaled only 90 units, a 54% reduction over 2018. Of these, 42 were 787, currently the company’s most requested model.
Faced with uncertainty about the 737 MAX returning to service, Boeing is even considering suspending production of the model, which is currently manufactured at a rate of 42 units per month, compared to 52 units before grounding.
“This is a defining moment for Boeing and we remain focused on our enduring values of safety, quality, and integrity in all that we do, as we work to safely return the 737 MAX to service,” said Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing president.