The next generation 777, dubbed the 777X, is a big undertaking @ Boeing, and it just started scale model wind-tunnel testing this week in Farnborough, England in cooperation with Qinetiq.
The goals are lofty for the 777X. The 777-9X is projected to have the lowest per-seat cost of any commercial aircraft [400 seats, and range of 8200 Nautical miles (>9400 miles)]. The 777-8X is projected to have an operating range of over 9300 nautical miles (>10700 miles) ! They intend to accomplish these feats utilizing Composite wing construction techniques (lowering mass), two high efficiency GE9x Turbofans, among other aerospace engineering wizardry.
Part of the optimization of the wing design has resulted in a 71.1 meter (233 ft !) wingspan which would prove difficult to fit into congested airports around the world. The solution ? Folding wingtips. Yep... The old trick used to cram fighters on carrier decks has made it to the commercial air transport world... The improvement in efficiency had better be worth the added cost, complexity and reliability gremlins these folding wingtips are sure to introduce.
Check out more details of the 777X here.
[Image Source: ASDNews, Boeing]