Boeing’s disaster year continues to hurtle down the runway as we learned this week that one of the company’s planes failed a safety test -- and it’s not the sidelined 737 Max jet, the model blamed for two deadly crashes since last fall.
And that might actually be worse because, this time, it’s the 777X, a Boeing plane that is still under development, but one the company needs to help offset the sales vacuum that’s been sucking the air out of Boeing’s profits. That’s because 4,500 orders for Max jets are sitting unfilled as the company continues to struggle to revise the cockpit technology to the point where it satisfies regulators and passengers alike.
But back to the 777X. This model is considered a key product for Boeing as it’s the longest body aircraft of any commercial jet, allowing it to carry up to 425 passengers on routes as long as 7,600 nautical miles. But not just yet, because during last week’s test, the aircraft reportedly failed its final high-pressure load test.
According to Aviation International News, the test requires the craft’s wings “to bend to 150 percent of the maximum load they would likely encounter in flight while pressure gets applied to the skins of the wing and fuselage.” During Friday’s test, the rear part of the fuselage depressurized, and a door even came off the plane.
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg downplayed the incident somewhat, suggesting that what happened was not unusual for a static test, and reinforcing that the plane had made it through 99% of its tests. That said, the incident is unlikely to speed things up for the craft that’s been facing other problems with its timetable, including issues with the plane’s GE engines needing some last-minute redesigns.
And the timetable is, of course, important. Last year, Boeing sold 99 planes in the month of August. This year? Six.