Updated: Feb 23, 2022
Part 2 of our Singapore Airshow B777X coverage, we go on board the world's largest twin-engine airliner, and learn what sets this aircraft apart from the rest of the planes in the sky.
During the Singapore Airshow 2022 Media Preview Day, members of the Plane's Portrait Aviation Media were given an exclusive opportunity to be invited by Boeing to tour their new Boeing 777-9. We here at Team A.P.P would like to send a special thank you to Boeing 777X chief pilot Captain Van Chaney as well as the dedicated crew of technical and marketing personnel that were there to guide us during the tour as well as to explain the different aspects of the aircraft.
The tour began about the exterior of the aircraft, as our guides from the Boeing Company brought us on a walk around the N779XW parked at Stand 463 of Changi Airport. Key points of the exterior tour were the new foldable wing tips which allowed for airport compatibility, larger carbonfibre wing for better lift performance, and the world's largest commercial aircraft engine, the General Electric GE9X engines for efficiency and power. (see Part 1 for B777X summary)
The interior of the 777-9 is currently still in its experimental stage, with the usual passenger seats and décor one would find on a commercial airliner replaced with full sets of experimental gear required for test flight operations. On board are two sets of 6 water ballast tanks, designed to vary the centre-of-gravity (CG) on flights to test shifting of simulated weight during flight as well as the take-off capabilities of aircraft. A series of pipes, valves, and pumps help to move water across different tanks to precisely control the movement of the CG. Across the main deck, a series of pallet sections form additional locations to place lead ballasts to further control the CG or change the overall gross weight of the aircraft for testing.
Over the wing section, an array of computers and processors make up engineering stations that aid the engineers in collating and monitoring experimental data in real-time. Miles of orange cabling snake in bundles from the hundreds of sensors and instruments placed around the aircraft. These stations are bolted down to the airframe to prevent the movement of these delicate equipments during flight.
At the rear of the aircraft, a massive rotating drum is placed just before the rear pressure bulkhead. This is the static cone cable reel, which reels in and out a long, small cone shaped sensor that provides accurate readings of static pressures during flight as well as collects aerodynamic data such as drag and airspeed from inside the aircraft’s slipstream.
Aboard the cockpit, there are significant advancements compared to the previous generation of 777s, and even the Boeing 737 MAX and the Dreamliner series. Aside from the heads-up display (HUDs), the cockpit controls feature touchscreen technology, updated flight control systems. One additional switch that is unique to the 777X series is the switch for the foldable wingtips. This switch will only be activated prior to take-off and maintains the wingtips in the “extended” position throughout its flight until landing, where the switch is then set back to the “folded” position.
As the 777-9 series is currently still in its testing phase, it is an open question as to how the interiors will look like once the aircraft enters commercial service. But it is guaranteed that once the future operators unveil their 777-9 cabin products, passengers are sure to benefit greatly from the increased space compared to the previous generations of 777s, and benefit from all the cabin technology advances made for the Dreamliners and the MAX, including the dimmable windows and adjustable cabin lightings.
With deliveries scheduled to start in late 2024, and Singapore Airlines due to receive their first Boeing 777-9 in 2025, aircraft enthusiasts will have much to look forward to in the coming years to see the world’s largest twin-engined commercial aircraft land and depart from Singapore.