The Federal Aviation Administration has approved Boeing’s futuristic folding wing design intended for future 777X jetliners. Once launched, these will be the first commercial jets to feature hinged wings, which will rotate and point skyward after the plane touches down.
The Boeing 777X is the company’s next evolution, one that builds upon both the 777 and 787 Dreamliner. The 777X will be, according to Boeing, the largest and most efficient twin-engine commercial jet of its kind, one unrivaled globally with milestone performance. The company has already showcased the jet, but it’s not yet on runways.
One of the 777X’s most eye-catching features is its hinged wing design, arguably the most futuristic element air travelers have encountered. The FAA had to work hard to deal with the new unprecedented design, ultimately creating new special conditions and design standards from scratch.
Those standards have been approved, the FAA revealed late last week, opening the door for the world’s most efficient twin-jet. The hinged wing design plays a vital role in the plane’s design — it’s necessary for the 777X to fit into a standard airport gate. Without the hinge, airports would have to construct larger gates to accommodate the aircraft.
The hinged wings will ensure that the 777X can operate at any airport, not only special ones with wider gates. The FAA, as you’d expect, had some concerns about the new design, particularly the safety issues a hinge presents.
One worry is that improperly configured wings at take-off could result in an accident, and for that reason the FAA requires Boeing to implement several auto-warning systems so that the plane doesn’t take off until the wings are completely expanded.