Boeing has confirmed Air France is set to become the initial operator of the long-range 777-300ER, the first of which was rolled out at Everett, Washington, on 14 November. Meanwhile, 777 customer KLM has become launch customer for an Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) developed by Boeing and Jeppesen.

The first 777-300ER will be delivered to Air France in April 2004, seven months later than the date set at the start of the programme in 2000. Boeing says the delay is partly due to "changes to the delivery stream" and the decision to restructure the test programme around two aircraft instead of three.

Boeing is planning around 1,600h of flight tests and 1,000h of ground tests on two aircraft, the second of which is scheduled to fly in mid-February. Aircraft certification is set for December next year, with interior certification in the first quarter of 2004. Boeing says it still plans to restart the 777-200LR programme in the second quarter of 2003.

The -200LR, recently boosted with the Pakistan International Airlines order for two aircraft, was put on ice for 18 months in October 2001. PIA plans to take the first -200LR in January 2006.

Orders for the long-range derivative family stand at 54 of a total 607 firm orders. Boeing plans to raise production on the 777 line in March from one every seven days to one every six days in response to delivery demands.

Meanwhile, the EFB is expected to make its first flight by early February on the prototype 777-300ER. Initial production EFBs will be delivered from October to KLM in the first of 10 777-200ERs on order. The EFB effectively replaces up to 35kg (77lb) worth of aircraft manuals, and presents data to the crew on 265mm (10in) diagonal liquid crystal displays. In addition to manuals, the EFB can display live weather information, NOTAMs, navigation charts, taxi situation maps, airport familiarisation maps and pictures, customer-specific applications and video surveillance of the cabin and approach area to the flight deck door.

As well as improving runway situational awareness, the EFB includes weight-and-balance and performance calculators. Boeing and Jeppesen believe this function alone could increase the payload of a 777 taking off from a wet runway by up to 9,000kg.

Source: Flight International