Inside the Boeing 777X test plane

  • 787-8 Dreamliner

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    Dave Calhoun

    Head office location:
    Chicago, United States

    Key product lines:
    Boeing 737, Boeing 747, Boeing 757, Boeing 767, Boeing 777, Boeing 787

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The Boeing 777X attracted a lot of attention at the recent Farnborough International Airshow. It was the UK debut of Boeing’s latest widebody. After its presentation at the Dubai and Singapore air shows, Boeing brought the new jet to the UK. And, of course, we made a point of taking a look inside as it continues the test program.

The 777X at Farnborough

Farnborough, along with other international airshows, are important events in the aviation calendar. This is where airlines unveil new planes and airline sale offers are announced. Although quieter than previous years, there was plenty of sales activity at this year’s show.


The 777X was a star attraction at Farnborough. Photo: Justin Hayward/Simple Flight

For new aircraft, the Boeing 777X certainly stole the show. Boeing has brought the widebody 777-9 along with the new Boeing 737 MAX 10 to Farnborough. These two prototype aircraft are currently participating in testing and certification programs.

Embraer also introduced the E195-E2 as an experimental aircraft. Airbus showcased the A350-900, with both a flight demonstration aircraft and a static display of ITA Airways’ latest A350.

Of course, the show wasn’t just about showing planes on the ground. The 777X also participated in the flight program, demonstrating incredible turns and a very steep takeoff.

Sales are what it’s all about, though. Not much was expected of the 777X, with continued schedule and delivery delays. There were no new orders for the 777X, but Cargolux said it would buy the 777X freighter later. Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker also said he intended the airline to be the first customer for the 777X, likely in 2025.

The Boeing 777X at Farnborough. Photo: Justin Hayward/Simple Flight

The Boeing 777X test program

The Boeing 777X on display was one of four test aircraft currently in flight as part of the test program. This is the N779XW – the same aircraft that Boeing brought to the Dubai Airshow in November 2021. The N779XW was the first 777X aircraft delivered. It performed the first such flight and is now involved in testing electronics, avionics brakes, flutter testing, icing, stability, control and low speed aerodynamics. It has since been joined in the test fleet by:

  • N779XX – currently testing auto-landing, ground effects, stability and controls.
  • N779XY – test of auxiliary power unit, avionics, flight loads and propulsion performance.
  • N779XZ – the latest aircraft tests environmental control systems, extended twin-engine operations (ETOPS), noise, and general functionality and reliability.

N779XW continues aircraft testing

Simple Flying did a full tour of N779XW at the Dubai Airshow and was able to do it again at Farnborough. The aircraft has been busy continuing the 777X test program. It has seen many flights from its Boeing base in Seattle. Most of them are short flights of two to three hours – often involving landings at Moses Field airport. The last test flight before the plane left Seattle for Farnborough was on July 6, and it was back in the air on test flights from Seattle on July 27.

The flight crew confirmed that much of the testing over the past few months had been aircraft float testing. This involves examining the structural behavior of the aircraft under different aerodynamic forces. Over the next few months, tests are also planned for take-off performance.

The 777X was at Farnrough for three days of the show. Photo: Justin Hayward/Simple Flight

A look inside the plane

Seeing inside any test aircraft like this is a real treat for aviation fans. While you can, of course, get an idea of ​​the size and capacity of the cabin, it’s nothing like airline service. The interior is equipped for combat testing – with numerous kits for recording and analyzing in-flight data from all parts of the aircraft.

The wording “Experimental” is a clear reminder that you are on a test aircraft. Photo: Justin Hayward/Simple Flight

For tours at this time, Boeing has chosen to include numerous markers inside to compare the plane to its competitor Airbus. Panels indicate and compare the width, length and size of cabin windows. The windows are of an impressive design. They are larger than on the 777 (but not as large as the Boeing 787 with its composite fuselage allows) and placed higher in the cabin wall. This is designed to let in more light farther into the cabin.

Compare window sizes. Photo: Justin Hayward/Simple Flight

Interestingly, the fuselage profile (and width) is the same as the Boeing 777. Boeing has widened the 777X cabin by about four inches, using thinner insulation and redesigned cabin walls. It’s hard to see it yet, with test equipment, cables and panels open in many areas.

The cabin remains full of test equipment – the same as when Simple Flying took a look at Dubai. There are workstations distributed throughout the cabin. These are primarily intended for general use – personnel can access all on-board sensors and data streams from any station, and their use will depend on the particular test flight.

Inside the Boeing 777X at Farnborough. Photo: Justin Hayward/Simple Flight

There are also seats for the crew. These are nothing new or fancy – they are older seats recycled from other planes! There’s no video system or extras – but remember most flights are short test flights. These long trips to air shows (and visits from potential customers) are exceptional. There is a small kitchen cart with water and coffee (and a new coffee machine installed since Doha we noted!).

Inside the Boeing 777X at Farnborough. Photo: Justin Hayward/Simple Flight

A very noticeable addition in the cabin is the water tank system. There are groups of water tanks in the front and rear of the cabin, with connecting pipes running the length of the cabin. These are important in test aircraft, especially with the N779XW’s role in flutter testing and aerodynamic performance testing. They can be used to simulate different cabin loads and to change the aircraft’s center of gravity for different tests.

The water tank ballast system on the 777X. Photo: Justin Hayward/Simple Flight

The water tanks used by Boeing are supplied by Seattle-based Alaskan Copper Works. The test engineers told us how Boeing previously used the company’s beer kegs for testing. They switched to aluminum barrels for the 767 and 777 tests, and to these new barrels for the 787 and now the 777X.

The water tank ballast system on the 777X. Photo: Justin Hayward/Simple Flight

The cockpit of the Boeing 777X

Of course, no aircraft tour would be complete without a look inside the cockpit. We weren’t allowed into the cockpit but could see from the entrance. The cockpit has a lot in common with the 777 and 787 and is designed for minimal conversion training. The big differences come with the fully configurable dual-rider displays and heads-up display as standard.

The cockpit of the 777X. Photo: Justin Hayward/Simple Flight

At least one switch is new, however – the controls for moving the wingtips. This is located on the bottom of the center top panel and looks distinctly like a wingtip.

The 777X cockpit and wingtip switch. Photo: Justin Hayward/Simple Flight

The 777X is an exciting new aircraft, and it’s good to take a closer look. It will, of course, still be some time before it enters service. Feel free to discuss more about the design and the changes we saw in the comments.

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