After waiting two days for better weather, Boeing took advantage of a brief break in the rain and high winds for the maiden flight of the 777X on Saturday. The aircraft was supposed to fly on Thursday but the test flight was rained out. Winds were too high on Friday but the weather window opened on Saturday about 10 a.m. Pacific time. The first flight was scheduled to last four hours. The aircraft took off from the company’s factory at Paine Field in Everett, Washington, and landed at Boeing Field in Seattle.
The big twin (it’s longer than a 747) taxied to the runway with its wingtips folded up and the tips were dropped after it lined up. The folding tips give an extra 20 feet of wingspan for greater fuel efficiency at altitude but allow the aircraft to use existing airport maneuvering surfaces and gates. The aircraft development has been delayed because of issues with the huge GE9X high bypass engines, which are estimated to be 10 percent more efficient than earlier designs. Boeing is aiming for certification in 2021 and has more than 300 orders for the $400 million aircraft.