Boeing’s Folding Wingtips Gets Approval From The FAA
Just last week, Boeing’s new line of planes received Federal Aviation Administration approval today for its folding wingtips — those will let the planes stop at airport gates big enough to accommodate typical 777 models.
Once the new planes lands, the wingtips will rotate until they point upwards. Bloomberg notes that the plane will be the only commercial model in widespread use to have such a feature. Some smaller planes have foldable wings, including military aircraft that have to take up as little space as possible on aircraft carriers.
The 777X’s folding wingtips are so novel that US regulators had to draw up new standards for them.
The Boeing plane’s chief project engineer, Terry Beezhold, called it “this beautiful wing” in a recent video made by the company. “This airplane actually will be the most efficient twin-jet ever developed in commercial history,” Beezhold said.
Instead of using aluminum, the new wings will be made from carbon-fiber composites that are stronger and lighter than the metal Boeing uses in other wings. That lets the company increase the wings’ width by 23 feet to 235 feet, which makes flying more efficient.
Unfortunately the new wing created a new problem: The current 777s barely fit into the standard airport gate for long-range, widebody aircraft. The wider wing on the new 777-8 and 777-9 planes would require airports to build new gates to accommodate the plane’s increased size.
“For that reason, we developed the folding wingtip, so that in flight we can enjoy this very long, efficient span, but it will be able to operate at any airport, any gate, that today’s 777 can service,” Beezhold said.