Back to Squawk list
  • 80

The Boeing 777X And Its Unmatched Foldable Wings

An unusual scene may become commonplace at airports in a few years if Boeing succeeds in making a new system safe for commercial operation. ( More...

Sort type: [Top] [Newest]

jliltd 17
As mentioned in the first comment above Boeing originally designed the first 777 (777-200) with the folding wing option. A couple of prominent customers insisted on it. I was a Boeing design engineer at the time. From a pure weight and drag perspective the engineers didn't like it but the market prevailed. Basically all the extra structure and systems runs out to the tip caused the entire wing to be beefed up to carry the loads. The impact on the aircraft was explained to the customers but we were to give them what they wanted. When the orders came in those same customers decided the weight penalty wasn't worth trying to save a few tighter gates at the terminal. Uh huh. That's what we tried to tell them during design.
Boeing did the original B777 folding wing engineering concept back in the 1990's and offered it to its airline customers, but had no takers. The hardware had been designed and tested and was finally used in 2006 -07 on the B747 Dreamlifter to lock/unlock the swingtail. It is a robust ring and lug design and the lock train for the swingtail consists of 21 sets of these locks around the perimeter of the aft fuselage where the tail swings. I had a small part in the operations demos during the FAA certification process in Everett, WA. The 4 Dreamlifters have been working hard ferrying B787 components since 2007 with no problems.
The end of the story says new engine would be put on in Renton.
I think they mean Boeing Field or Everett. Not sure a 777 has ever landed or taken off from Renton.
Probably bringing up a previous post, but.
Two points.
The United States Navy,
Twenty years on and off of flight decks, and I never saw a failure of a folding wing in flight or even on the flight deck or ground.
Remember this minor point, a 777 will probably never pull the G’s that a F18, A6 or the now rolling out F35. If they do, folding wings will be the least of the aircrews concerns.
Small aircraft have different dynamics than large ones and I can guarantee you that military aircraft do not get the use of civilian aircraft
Commercial aircraft are usually retired long before military aircraft are, especially naval flight platforms. Our squadron had the second A6 produced,157001, it was still flying tanker duty when the squadron was shut down, it was then sent to VA 34 which flew it for another 3 years, the wings were folded while on the flight line and deck with no suppimental support until we needed to climb up on the folded part to perform maintenance on the electronic systems that were in the wingtips.
She was built in 1964 and retired when all of the A-6’s were taken out of service in 1993.
She flew combat missions in VN, Beirut, And desert storm.
No commercial aircraft could stand the carrier landings, hot fuels, hot crew swaps and relaunches for days at a time that a carrier aircraft works with.
How many hours of operation, overall, and takeoffs and landings would a commercial airliner rack up over the course of its lifetime, as compared to the military aircraft you spoke of...I have no idea about any of this "stuff." I've always just been a bit fascinated by aircraft/flight. I've often also wondered if it would have taken longer to develop flight technology...if there were no birds, etc., to show Man that flight was even possible.
I had to kind of laugh when the probability of catastrophe was mentioned...that proof of no chance of catastrophic problem with these wings would have to be given. That's the same kind of thinking, at the time, that caused the claim that the Titanic was unsinkable and, also, that no jet could lose all hydraulics...'til flight 232 crash landed in Sioux City, Iowa, after that very thing happened, and why there was no mention of such a catastrophe (and action to be taken) in the flight manual (and why they had to keep repeating the problem to whomever took the call when they called it in to whatever entity/authority in (I believe) Minneapolis...cuz no one there believed such a thing could happen, either. It's a good reminder, I guess, to "never say never."
Lance Neward 2
Right on, Linda-like the odds that Douglas engineers calculated were 10 billion to 1 that an engine would come off the wing of a DC-10, so it was ok to route the electrical and hydraulic system through the same area of the wing, thus giving us the American Flt 191 crash at O'Hare and 273 lives lost. "No possibility both systems would be inoperative."
Tom Bruce 6
the engine came off because of a faulty engine-change procedure American Airlines was doing.. not because of the design.. American was using an unapproved method of re-installing the engine with the pylon attached that caused cracks in the receptacle on the wing
If I recall correctly, I believe there was also a flaw (tiny impurity) in the material used to make that, too, which was missed.
Tom Bruce 5
I was with FAA at the time... don't know if true or not but I heard that they put 10 senior DC10 pilots thru a simulation of what happened in Chicago and the only one that "survived" was one old guy who pushed the throttles to MAX ignoring the standard directives of the day...anybody hear this?
Lance Neward 2
1. Yes, I've heard that, and also that operating emergency procedures were amended.
2. The point was that the airplane was designed the way it was because "it'll never happen" and because that's the way Douglas had found to be a previously acceptable way of doing things, e.g., in the DC-8.
On the other hand, a contemporary airplane (Lockheed L-1011 Tri-Star)was designed starting with a clean sheet and the engineers used a different, and, as it turned out, safer routing for those systems. Yes, the mishandling of the engine installation was the proximal cause of the engine loss, but there is reason to believe that, with a different system design, Captain Lux and his crew might have been able to save the airplane and its passengers.
I'm not sure if it's true or not (and it's maybe in the book...there was so much info in the book, I couldn't remember it all), but I do remember something being done against protocol. What you wonder about would also stand to reason...I've often heard concern in the past of what would happen to the commercial airline industry when we no longer had commercial pilots who had originally come from the military, as they had to know how to fly by the seat of their pants in all kinds of to-the-max situations. Flight 232 was damn lucky to have flight trainer Denny Fitch onboard to help that plane down. He was deeply saddened by not having been able to save everyone. May he rest in peace. Terrific man and pilot was he, as were/are the rest of the crew on that flight.
...come to think of it...I think we're talking about two different things/accidents. Flight 232 had no engine come off. The engine in the tail of the plane actually blew apart due to the flaw/impurity in the metal used to make one of the fan blades, and when that flew apart, it severed all three hydraulic lines. I think I recall something about an improper procedure during maintenance of some engine on a plane involved in a crash, but I'm not sure it was concerning Flight 232.
Tom Bruce 3
yeah... Chicago.. improper engine installation.. rear coupling broke...engine rotated up over wing tearing out the hydraulics.. slats and flaps retracted... left wing stopped flying at that speed.... Iowa... middle/tail engine blew and took out the hydraulics...great save by older "seat of the pants" pilot...
Yep...Cpt. Haines. He did a great job. He was very good to the Sioux City area after that, always coming back to speak at this event and that. About a year or so ago, tho, he said no more cuz he had to relive the event every time he gave his speech about it. Can't blame the guy for wanting to put it to rest! Got to praise the Siouxland area, as well, with the great rescue effort they provided. I used to work (at the Le Mars Daily Sentinel) with the guy who drove the ambulance that took Cpt. Haines to the hospital after the crash. While lots of people wouldn't want to live in the Sioux City area (unless they were born there), thinking there isn't "enough to do there," it's a great place to crash land...great caring, capable people.
Flight 232 did have a design flaw, that no one contemplated the possibility of a fan blade's blowing apart could sever all three hydraulic lines, so stop gaps had to be put into place so not all hydraulic fluid would be lost in such an incident. Like I said, "Never say never."
Have you read the book "Flight 232"? I was so impressed with that book, esp. the detail the author went into to tell about how the jet engines are manufactured and what they are made of and the process the material goes thru to maintain purity, etc., as well as how the whole disaster was handled and investigated, etc., and even what all they had to do to try to find the missing parts in the corn fields in Iowa. Very well researched.
pagheca 2
Experts, a question:

is it really IMPOSSIBLE to compensate for a wing retracted using differential thrust on the engine, electronic, and a careful design? More than - for example - for one engine off?
pagheca 2
...I mean in this case: 7 meters over 72 (10%)
dee9bee 3
As I recall, no one ordered the 777 folding wing because the additional weight was unacceptable, economically speaking.
Ron Nash 3
Well, with this crazy idea, right about here is another good chance for a major disaster .....
David Seider 0
"Oops, wrong button..."
Good one!
Ron Jensen 1

Low, slow and asymmetric is a bad combination. I would assume a fighter jet has much more roll and yaw authority than an airliner, yet the F-4E in the linked story was unable to maintain level flight with one wing folded.
Rich Boddy 1
I mean, in the case of the F-4E approximately a third of it's wing folds whereas with the 777 it's like 10%, but I suppose this could be a good comparison if you play some really good mental gymnastics.
The final flight test for Aviation Partner's winglet mod on the Falcon 2000 was to fly the test aircraft cross country with one of the winglets (6ft long) removed. Pilots reported that they just trimmed it and it flew fine. I realize that's not the same as the malfunction possibilities with a hinged controllable wingtip, but it shows that some assymetry is not catastrophic.
Why 15% larger windows? Flights I’ve been on during the daytime has passengers lowering the window shades so they can watch movies and view their digital devices. No one looks out the window anymore to enjoy flying. Even during takeoff and landing!
pagheca 11
the fact that you don't doesn't mean that no one does. I like to watch outside. And larger windows would encourage me to watch even more!
Stefan Sobol 4
On some airlines it is the FAs that close the window shades. One on airline, shortly after takeoff, the FAs went around and closed all the shades. If I had the shade open and left my seat, when I came back each time, the shade would be closed. On the 787 the FA station has a master control for the dimmable windows.
You can still look out the window on a 787 without disturbing the neighbors - you just set the translucency enough to get a good view, but block the glare transmitted into the cabin.
KC Jefferies 1
Closing the blinds on take off gives people's eyes to adjust to it incase, God forbid, that a possible accident happens, people can see in the dark, and also to see the instruction safety video if available, to help people save themselves. When accidents happen andģor emergency egress is needed, flight attendants are debreifed and tell of how uninformed the passengers are and have to be screamed at with the correct reaction to save themselves. It is noted that FIRST CLASS IS USUALLY THE ONES THAT HAVE TO BE REMINDED. He He...
pagheca 1
Sure, but was it a night flight?
Tom Bruce 4
agree... flew Frankfurt to SFO last summer... ours the only windows open... over Europe, North Sea, Jan Mayen Island(big volcano), Greenland, and down through Canada... it was incredible... asked many times to "please pull the shade down" ... I flew every other week for 20+ years and always chose a window seat....never get tired of watching the world go by
Mike Boote -5
How is this unmatched? Perhaps in commercial aviation, however military aircraft have had folding wings since the 1930's
brian Gaskill 11
I think you answered your own question...though, if ever a 77x lands on a aircraft carrier, you will have a huge “told you so” in your back pocket.
Cansojr 1
Excellent point Brian. I was wondering about that. I have seen footage of a Hercules landing on a carrier deck. They used rocket assisted bottles to attain the necessary speed to clear the deck safely when they took-off. It looked like the Herc. was standing still in the air for a couple of seconds. If I was on the Herc. it could turn out to be a brown shorts day.
David Seider 2
Herc ops on a CVA - yes
Herc ops with RATO - yes
Herc ops on a CVA with RATO - no
Cansojr 1
G Aldridge 1
Could you point me to a video or documentation where rocket assist is used on the C130s? Not saying it didn't happen ..........just that all the footage I have seen and reports I read about the '60s testing of the Marine C130 on a carrier were completely unassisted takeoffs and unarrested landings (!!!).
I actually saw a C130 with rocket assist take off during an airshow in Grand Junction, Colorado, back in the '80s. Talk about loud...and impressive, how that plane shot up, into the air when they fired those rockets! We were told that they used them in 'Nam so they could take off on very short runways. After a bad bout of depression, the stress from a suicide of a special friend, and basically having to work too long and too hard doing medical transcription, I can't remember much of anything, anymore, but I'll NEVER forget that C130 hitting the skies after those rockets were fired!!!
Cansojr 1
Try searching GOOGLE C-130 takes off an aircraft carrier. Try searching rocket assisted takeoff for the C-130. A friend of mine who flew the Herc. for his entire career.He tried a demo at CFB Trenton only one side fired. Because of the asymmetric thrust patterns he said he was standing on the port rudder peddle hoping to stop the yaw and gain suffient airspeed to fly. Search Canadian Forces, RCAF, C-130 JATO bottles in their photo library. I'm sorry I am unsure of the name of these bottles. Never used them myself.
Lance Neward 1
If you want to see a Herc with Rato/Jato bottles installed, there's one at the Hill Air Force Base Aviation Museum in Ogden, UT
pagheca 1
It was a way to take off in difficult areas covered with sastrugis in Antarctica.

There have been a number of mishaps. The problem is that if one of the rocket doesn't ignite, you get highly differential thrust and the aircraft becomes really difficult to control.

For more information search "C-130 JATO" or Jet Assisted Take-Off
pagheca 1
pardon: LC-130 JATO
David Seider 1
G Aldridge...
You are absolutely correct.
Carrier ops starts @ 1:57
G Aldridge 2
Thanks! I was not very clear in my first sentence about RATO and C130s. I have personally witnessed the Blue Angels Fat Albert lift off with RATO at a 2005 airshow, so I already knew about that. I was questioning the use of RATO on the C130 carrier tests back in the 1960's specifically.
Cansojr 1
Mr. Aldridge I did a little checking with a retired CWO who was working as Flt.Eng. on Hercs in the RCAF. We he informed me quote "We used JATO BOTTLES which were rockets strapped to the point you made in your Squawk. JATO in Canadian military parlance means "Jet Assisted Takeoff". The USAF used them on the B-47s but I am not sure about the BUFF". Sorry for the wait. I know we use them just not where. They were tried on the CF-104's but they scratched that plan with nukes on your wings, it's not a good idea.
Lee Withers 1
The Blue Angels use a C 130 for transport of gear. During the show they do a RATO- Rocket Assisted Take Off. In 1965, I think, the Navy was doing an investigation into landing a 727 on a carrier.
Mike Boote -4
You didn't understand my point. I'm not making a jab at boeing, the 777X, or folding wings. I'm simply criticizing the headline wrtier's choice of an inaccurate adjective.
btweston 4
Why are half of the comments on this site whining about the fact that articles exist? Go read something else. Please.
Em Fairley -2
Another in a glass house who chooses to throw stones... "headline wrtier's choice..." I think you'll find you mean writer's choice.
Cansojr -1
Have you ever flown a four engine turboprop? Are you a former military aviator?
There is a postage stamp sized runway pitching wildly in a high Beaufort Scale Number.Behind the fantail of the carrier weird eddies of turbulence will toss you around. Then you have to try and maintain a coordinated flight approach in awkward winds and turbulence and nail the landing on the very first attempt.
Chris B -2
Chances of Airbus claiming this is an(other) example of US government subsidizing Boeing has to be high.......


Don't have an account? Register now (free) for customized features, flight alerts, and more!
Did you know that FlightAware flight tracking is supported by advertising?
You can help us keep FlightAware free by allowing ads from We work hard to keep our advertising relevant and unobtrusive to create a great experience. It's quick and easy to whitelist ads on FlightAware or please consider our premium accounts.