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Folding Wings Turn Boeing Jet Into A Fuel Saver

Boeing 777x boasts a gargantuan 233-foot wingspan to save on fuel costs

Ross Brooks
Ross Brooks on November 19, 2013. @greenidealism

In an effort to lower the operating costs associated with fuel in the airline industry, Boeing has designed the new 777x, the first twin-engine jet able to haul a jumbo jet’s payload. What’s even more impressive is that it burns 12 percent less fuel than competing Airbus models, and 20 percent less than Boeing’s own 777-300ER. It achieves this with a new engine from GE Aviation and much longer composite wings that are able to fold up when the plane is taxiing through airports.

One distinct feature of the new aircraft is that it repurposes existing technology, a move that means the company can avoid production delays – something all too common with the aircraft manufacturing business. “This looks like a compelling product and assuming it stays a compelling product, people will buy it and love it,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst with Teal Group, a Fairfax, Virginia-based consultant. “It will change the accepted logic that major aircraft derivatives are hugely problematic.”

boeing-777x-fuel-efficient-aircraft-2

The aircraft’s signature feature is its 233-foot (71.1 meter) wingspan, along with propulsion boasting an 11-foot fan diameter, nearly as wide as the fuselage of a 737 and bigger than any jet engine ever built. The largest of two planned variants seats 407 people, which makes it a competitor to Boeing’s 747-8 and Airbus’s A380 jumbos while giving it a payload unmatched by any Airbus twin-engine jet.

“It unlocks an incredible amount of fuel efficiency that other airplanes will never even come close to by having that extra 11 feet of span on either side of the airplane,” said Bob Feldmann, the 777X program manager.

The company has already received 259 orders for the airplane, which proves that airlines around the world are keen to add a more fuel-efficient model to their fleets.

Boeing

Sources: Bloomberg, MIT Technology Review

Images: Boeing

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Ross is a freelance writer who specializes in topics about the environment, architecture, art, design and creative tech. He is passionate about making a difference with his writing, whether that’s to encourage social change, promote a great idea, or just share a little bit of beauty with the world. You can also find his work on Inhabitat and Techly.com.au.

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