What Boeing Must Prove About Its Folding Wingtips Before They Can Fly
After years of testing and safety developments, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has released a list of safety requirements for Boeing’s much-anticipated folding wingtips.
When it debuts, Boeing’s new 777X aircraft will be the “largest and most efficient twin-engine jet in the world,” according to the manufacturer. Despite its behemoth size, the unique folding wingtip will allow the 777X to land and taxi at regular airport gates.
But because the 777X will be the first commercial aircraft with a folding wingtip, the FAA had to create new regulations from scratch, which were approved on May 18. The FAA has a set of 10 conditions that the folding wingtip must meet in order to receive certification, according to Bloomberg. Multiple automatic warning systems must be in place so that pilots cannot take off without the wings fully extended. The FAA even set specific requirements for how to change the lights on the wingtips.
Boeing said that it will be impossible for the tips to fold up while the plane is in flight because of a set of locking mechanisms, but the FAA mandated that Boeing also show “no force or torque can unlatch or unlock the mechanisms” and that they can withstand heavy wind gusts on the ground.
When fully outstretched, the plane will have a wingspan of 235 feet. Once the plane touches down, the tips of the wings will fold up vertically to 213 feet. The new wings will be made from carbon-fiber, which Boeing says is stronger and lighter than the metal current used on plane wings.
Boeing hopes that the 777X will begin test flights in early 2019. The plane could begin commercial service at the end of the year.