Boeing's Wild Folding Wingtips Are One Step Closer to Reality

The FAA has cleared the "special conditions" whipped up from scratch for the novel wings.

Boeing

The upcoming Boeing 777x is set to be the largest twin-engine jet in the world, with a 108-foot-wide wing that will make it more efficient and cheaper to operate than its predecessors. To make this increased size work however, Boeing needed to rely on novel folding wingtips to make sure the 777x could actually fit into airports. Now, , the FAA has given its OK on the design, with a few regulatory caveats.

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Since Boeing's folding tips are the first of their kind, existing aircraft design standards didn't account for them. Regulations had to be drawn up from scratch and now the FAA has approved them as of last week.

The regulations include a whole host of requirements, , including:

  • A system to warn pilots if they are trying to take off with the tips folded.
  • A process for replacing lights on the foldable sections of the wing.
  • A locking mechanism that has been tested to show no amount of force could fold the wings in flight.
  • The ability to stand up to windspeeds of up to 75 miles per hour while on the ground.

    With an unfolded wingspan of 235 feet and change, the 777x is a mere 25 feet narrower than the gargantuan Airbus A380 which requires special accommodation from airports, a major contributing factor to the increasingly outdated hub-and-spokes model of air travel.

    The 777x will not just sport the biggest wingspan of a twin-engine jet, but also the largest engines in the form of the GE9x. You might have a harder time figuring out how to make those fold up, though.

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