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Boeing ceremonially kicks off 777-9 assembly

Boeing marked the official launch of production activity for the first 777-9 test aircraft in a public ceremony on 23 October.

The company started building the wing spar in the newly-erected composite wing centre in Everett, Washington, during the summer, but the 23 October ceremony coincided with the drilling of the spar by an automated machine in another building on the campus.

The ceremonial launch of production for the 777X family comes about 14-17 months before the scheduled first flight of the 777-9 test aircraft in the first quarter of 2019.

Entry into service to an undecided launch operator should occur about a year after first flight. Boeing has not confirmed the identify of the first airline to receive the aircraft, but said recently that Emirates has moved to the front of the line.

The start of production coincides with a signing ceremony at the White House, where Singapore Airlines finalized a deal to buy 20 777-9s and 19 787-10s as US president Donald Trump stood watching.

Meanwhile, GE Aviation is continuing certification testing of the GE9X engine, with the second engine to test running on a ground test stand since May.

The 777X assembly system is quickly moving into place. Boeing has retained the supply chain and cross-section for the aluminium fuselage intact, but has revamped how it designs and builds the wing.

The 777X will feature a 71.8m (235ft 5in) wingspan in flight that will be made with composite skins and spars and aluminium ribs. To manufacture the massive composite wing, Boeing erected the CWC in Everett, placing three of the world’s largest autoclaves inside to meet projected production capacity.

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