Boeing 777F completes eventful first flight

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Boeing's 777 Freighter completed its 3.5h maiden flight from the airframer's Everett plant near Seattle on 14 July.

The debut sortie was not without issues, however, as there was a data-communication problem that meant not all first-flight tests could be performed. The aircraft also had to return to Everett rather than Boeing Field, where it was originally meant to have landed.

Boeing says 777 chief pilot Capt Suzanna Darcy-Henneman and 777 deputy chief pilot Capt Van Chaney were piloting the new freighter aircraft on the first flight. It departed at 10:00 from Paine Field and landed at 13:38.

The manufacturer says the aircraft was flown up to 18,000ft (5,490m) and at an airspeed of 270kt (500km/h), which it says is customary for a first flight.

Despite the data-communication problem between the aircraft and the telemetry room at Boeing Field, which required the landing back at Paine Field, Darcy-Henneman says the 777F "handled perfectly" on the flight. Vice-president of flight operations, test and validation Dennis O'Donoghue says there were "no airplane performance-related issues".

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The manufacturer says: "Boeing will identify and fix the problem to resume the flight-test programme as soon as possible. Due to the data-transmission issue, the 777 freighter was unable to complete all of the first-flight tests and was returned to Paine Field in Everett, Washington per Federal Aviation Administration procedure."

Boeing initially hoped to fly the aircraft sometime between 27 June and 9 July, but the first flight was delayed. Yesterday the manufacturer said it hoped the maiden flight would occur within two days.

The company hopes to earn US and European certification for the latest member of the 777 aircraft family in the fourth quarter, allowing for first delivery to launch customer Air France.