By Charles H. Featherstone / Columbia Basin Herald
MOSES LAKE — The 777-X has finally arrived in Moses Lake.
The giant plane, which is the latest version of the wide body jet that first flew in 1994, will be using Grant County International Airport for a series of test flights as Boeing seeks to get the plane certified.
“We began the flight testing phase in late January 2020, and are pleased with the progress we are seeing,” said Boeing spokesperson Jessica Kowal.
Boeing is currently flying two test versions of the 777-X, while another two are being “prepared for flight,” Kowal said.
“Generally speaking, we have been to Moses Lake recently with the second airplane, for some testing and handling characteristics,” she said.
While Boeing has long owned a facility in Moses Lake, and currently parks over 250 737 Max aircraft at GCIA following their grounding, Kowal said the company’s test operations are based in Everett and the company does not plan to “overnight at Grant County International.”
According to officials with the Port of Moses Lake, Boeing was waiting for the completion of repairs on the GCIA main runway to start test flights here.
Billed by Boeing as “the largest and most efficient twin-engine jet in the world,” the 777-X has been outfitted with carbon-fiber composite wings and new engines that the company says will reduce fuel use by 10 percent on long-haul flights.
According to Kowal, the company has 340 orders and commitments to buy the roughly $425 million plane, which is expected to enter service in 2021.