SEATTLE (Reuters) – Boeing Co successfully staged the first flight of the world’s largest twin-engined jetliner on Saturday in a respite from the crisis over its smallest model, the grounded 737 MAX.
The 777X, a larger version of the 777 mini-jumbo, touched down at the historic Boeing Field outside Seattle at 2 pm (2200 GMT) after a debut which began almost four hours earlier at Boeing’s revamped wide-body assembly lines north of the city.
The decision to take advantage of a gap in clouds to start the months of testing needed before the jet can carry passengers came after two attempts had to be postponed due to high winds.
“It’s a proud day for us,” said the chief executive of Boeing’s commercial airplane unit, Stan Deal.
As the 252-foot-long aircraft – the longest commercial jet by a whisker – drew to a halt before waiting VIPs, rows of undelivered 737 MAX stood idle nearby in a reminder of the crisis that has engulfed Boeing since it was grounded last year.
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