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Lufthansa declines to comment on 777-9 delay ‘speculation’

Lufthansa is not commenting on the potential impact of any lengthy delay to the introduction of the 777-9, as Boeing and GE Aviation work to resolve issues that have pushed back the aircraft's first flight.

GE confirmed at the Paris air show on 17 June that it was redesigning a static compressor part for the GE9X engine which powers the 777X family, after the component showed premature deterioration during the test programme.

The first variant, the 777-9, was rolled out in March, and its first flight was believed to have been imminent. The aircraft had been due to enter service with Lufthansa in the summer of 2020 after an apprximately year-long flight-test and certification programme.

However, delayed approval of the GE9X is likely to push back the start of airframe flight-testing. Ground tests with the re-engineered part are being conducted and GE vice-president of commercial engines Bill Fitzgerald says the manufacturer is still determining a flight test schedule for the modified engine. He expresses confidence that the GE9X will be certificated "later in the fall" and that Boeing will still conduct the 777X's first flight this year.

Boeing similarly remains confident that the 777-9 will fly this year and enter service in 2020.

However, the lengthy delay to engine certification and the likely impact on the 777-9 flight-test programme will make a summer 2020 introduction by Lufthansa extremely challenging. The German airline declines to comment on "any speculations" about a delay to first deliveries, stating only that it is "very much looking forward being the launch customer of the B777X".

Lufthansa has 20 777-9 on order and a further 14 are covered by letter-of-intent commitments, Cirium's Fleets Analyzer indicates. Other customers include All Nippon Airways, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines.

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