Being one of the most popular airplanes today, Boeing 777 is always mentioned as a high-capacity class aircraft, 'class-mate' of such giants as Boeing 747 and Airbus A380. Even being not the tiny biplane itself, Boeing 777 seemed to have a little advantage facing its big brothers. Is it true or not?
Boeing 777 is the joint name of the long range widebody airliners family. You can easily identify Boeing 777 airplane because of its six wheels on main landing gears and rear tail-cone looks like a kind of blade. Carrying 550 passengers as the maximum, it is known as the third largest passenger airliner at the moment after Airbus A380 and Boeing 747.
The idea of creating such an aircraft was inspired by market situation. Boeing needed a new model, which could challenge Douglas DC-10 and Lockheed TriStar planes. Firstly the 777 model was a trijet airplane, based on the Boeing 767 concept. This project was soon cancelled because of technical difficulties of putting this design into life.
Next step, made by Boeing, was enlarging Boeing 767, calling this model Boeing 767-X. 767 got an improved fuselage and wings with 340 passengers onboard. Its maximum range of flight was over 13 thousand kilometers. However, this was something not desirable by Boeing customers. Designing of one more new plane was revolutionary with its concept of creating and testing methods. Those, who were the main customers of Boeing production - airlines and passengers - have played the key role in creating new airliner.
It was new 'Working Together' philosophy of Boeing designers. Boeing 777 was also the first airplane of this class designed fully by using a computer. 3D CAD software system CATIA was the main tool of Boeing engineers. This made possible testing every part of the new aircraft in virtual space in order to find out how it will behave in volumes of flight or how it will suit to another parts of Boeing 777. What was the result of all this work?
First flight of Boeing 777 took place on June 14, 1994. This moment could be marked as the final point in developing Boeing 777 and improving it. This beginning wasn't fully successful - 777-100 aircraft was rejected by customers for large weight and high per seat costs. So 777-200 was the initial model, made for mass production. Its modernized modification, 777-200ER has broken the Great Circle Distance Without Landing record in 1997, flown from Seattle to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, by East way in 21 hours 23 minutes. The range of flight was 20.044 kilometers.
Another 777-200 improvement, 777-200LR or Worldliner is told to be the longest ranging passenger airliner in the world. The 777-300 is close to 747 models by passenger capacity and range, but cost much less. With its improved layout, 777-300ER is targeted to replace Boeing 747-400 in passenger flights. Boeing 777F, a special cargo version of the 777 is also claimed to be the world longest-range freighter.
However, it will be interesting for those of you who are regular passengers, that there were no accidents featuring Boeing 777 line planes. This shows 777's reliability and secure. Boeing 777 has a great potential today both as passenger and cargo aircraft. It also proved the worth of technologies, which were used in its design and improvement. Being the most customer-oriented Boeing airplane, it shows the future of aircraft manufacturing industry.