According to multiple sources, Boeing has had to suspend the final stages of structural testing on its new Boeing 777X aircraft due to an incident that has occurred.
It has been reported by KOMO News that one of the fuselage doors of the Boeing 777X had blown off unexpectedly during a maximum pressurisation test on the ground, in which the aircraft was tested way beyond its capacity.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials were in attendance during the testing and were ready to sign the plane off for its structural safety, however, due to this incident, the testing had to be suspended.
Alongside this new issue, the Boeing 777X is already suffering from delays due to its General Electric GE9X engines that have been recalled for a redesign due to the engine producing increased wear and exhaust gas temperatures that are considerably higher than the optimal limits for the engine.
This is apparently caused by malfunctioning stator vanes in the second stage of the high-pressure compressor.
Due to the engine issues, the Boeing 777X’s first flight has been pushed back to early 2020, before Boeing begin commencing a rigorous testing phase before the aircraft’s expected first delivery by quarter four (Q4) 2020.
At this time, Boeing is still prioritising in getting the 737MAX safely back into service, whilst slowly continuing with the development of the 777X at an acceptable rate to the timescales they have given themselves for the first delivery target in Q4 2020.
A former Boeing engineer, Dr Todd Curtis has said, “I’ve never heard of a case where a door popped off like this during a stress test before. Doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened before, I’m just not aware of it.”
Boeing was approached for a statement into the incident and they have advised, “During ultimate load testing on the 777X static test aeroplane, an event occurred that forced the test team to halt testing.”
“Safety is the highest priority at Boeing. The test team followed all safety protocols and there were no reported injuries.”
Boeing continued, “The team is currently working to understand what happened and ensure the area is safe for work to continue. The ultimate load test is the latest in a series of tests that Boeing has been conducting on this full-scale test aeroplane over the past several months.”
It seems at the moment that nothing seems to be positive for Boeing, especially with the grounding of its 737MAX programme also ongoing.
Time will be of the essence to fix this problem otherwise we could see certification from the likes of the FAA to be even later than expected.
All eyes will be on Boeing even more now, as the level of safety will have to be guaranteed, especially with what has happened in the last 12-18 months.