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Boeing 777X: One of world’s biggest passenger planes completes test flight

Boeing 777X: One of world's biggest passenger planes completes test flight

Boeing has successfully completed the first flight of the world’s largest twin-engine jetliner – a respite from the ongoing controversy surrounding the 737 MAX.

It took three attempts to get the 777X off the ground, as the first two planned tests were abandoned owing to high winds.

The plane – which is 77m (252ft) long and can seat more than 400 passengers – took off from a runway just outside Seattle on the US west coast.

The co-pilots for the test flight wave after their successful journey

Four hours later, it landed at the historic Boeing Field, not far from rows of 737 MAX planes left grounded after two fatal crashes triggered safety concerns.

The new Boeing model, which will be officially known as the 777-9, also boasts folding wingtips that mean it can fit its wings into the same parking bays as other jets.

Following the successful maiden voyage, Boeing executive Stan Deal said: “It’s a proud day for us. It made all of our employees proud one more time of who we are and what we get to do, by flying a brand-new aeroplane that is going to change the world one more time.”

Boeing’s new 777X is expected to enter service in 2021 – with development issues meaning this is a year later than planned. Each plane is worth an estimated $442m (£338m).

Boeing employees and guests welcome a Boeing 777X airplane returning from its inaugural flight at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington on January 25, 2020. - Boeing's new long-haul 777X airliner made its first flight Saturday, a major step forward for the company whose broader prospects remain clouded by the 737 MAX crisis. The plane took off from a rain-slicked runway a few minutes after 10:00 am local time (1800 GMT), at Paine Field in Everett, Washington, home to Boeing's manufacturing site in the northwestern US. (Photo by Jason Redmond / AFP) (Photo by JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)

More than 300 of the planes have already been sold, and the jet is expected to compete with the A350-1000, a new offering by rival Airbus.

Regulatory hurdles do lie ahead for the 777X, which will be the first major aircraft to be certified since the role of software flaws in two fatal 737 MAX crashes emerged.

The Federal Aviation Administration has vowed that rigorous testing will be conducted before the plane is allowed to carry passengers – while Emirates, one of Boeing’s clients, has said the plane should be put through “hell on Earth” to ensure it is safe and performs properly.

Boeing’s chief test pilot Craig Bomben, who served as a co-pilot for Saturday’s flight, said: “We took the time to get the aeroplane ready for flight test so I think we are going to march through flight tests successfully and quickly and get it certified to the FAA standards.”