Major fuselage sections of the first 777X aircraft have entered Boeing’s Fuselage Assembly Centre in Everett, Washington, Boeing says.
In a tweeted photo on 23 March, Boeing showed the first Section 41 — the company’s internal designation for the nose and forward fuselage — entered the 40-27 bay of the Everett factory. The first 777-9 version of the 777X family to enter fuselage assembly will be used for static testing on the ground, Boeing says.
Inside the 40-27 bay, Section 41 will be joined to the centre and aft fuselage sections, using a new process introduced two years ago on the 777-300ER and 777-200LR programmes. Instead of loading the assemblies into a rotating tool fixture, Boeing will mate the 777X using the fuselage automated upgrade build (FAUB) process, in which sections are loaded into moveable cradles and are mated together using mostly robots for drilling and fastening.
Later this year, the assembled fuselage will be moved to the final assembly bay for the 777X, where it will be joined with the aircraft’s first new composite wings. Boeing introduced the first 777-9 wingspar into assembly last year for the static test airplane. Now, the wings for the first flight test aircraft are also moving through the assembly process in the cavernous new composite wing centre opened last year in Everett to support the 777X programme, Boeing says.
During final assembly, Boeing also mates the fuselage with the wings, onboard systems and the GE Aviation GE9X engines.
GE launched flight testing of the GE9X in mid-March on a company-owned 747-400 flying testbed.
The 777-9 programme is scheduled to enter flight testing in 2019 and enter service with launch operator Emirates in 2020. The longer-range 777-8 will enter service two years later.