back to article First Boeing 777 (aged 24) makes its last flight – to a museum

The first passenger Boeing 777 built is being flown to a museum today, having spent the last quarter of a century ferrying bods from A to B. Boeing is still building the 777 long-haul airliner to this day, albeit with more than a few tweaks to the original 1990s design. Techies, particularly those in the APAC region, will be …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Chris Harries

    Re: Still have the book

    I thought the 777 was ETOPS 180?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "I thought the 777 was ETOPS 180?"

    Aircraft models don't get ETOPS, the individual aircraft do. Aircraft are designed to be 'capable of ETOPS blah blah blah' when it is fully kitted out with top-end equipment that is rated at those levels. Or you can order the craft with less expensive equipment but would result in a lower ETOPS rating. This allows an airline to buy a fleet of 737s with the cheaper to buy and maintain, P&W engines, which brings the cost down for operating domestic over-land routes where ETOPS isn't needed. But they could also buy the same model of 737 but kitted out with the Rolls Royce engines, higher-end avionics, additional safety equipment so they can get an ETOPS-240 rating to operate over the oceans. Airlines do this regularly, the aircraft for routes that will never be far from an alternate and save $20mil on the bird ($50 million or more over the life of the craft). You'll notices this in the price of a ticket between a LAX-HLN being significantly higher than that of a ticket between LAX-JFK even though both routes are the same distance and may use the same aircraft (The 737-900ER has been enjoying quite a bit of popularity on these routes since it is the most economical now that it can gain an ETOPS-240 rating)

  4. P0l0nium

    Re: "I thought the 777 was ETOPS 180?"

    "the same model of 737 but kitted out with the Rolls Royce engines"

    I assure you that no one has EVER bought a 737 with Rolls Royce engines :-)

  5. Tannin

    Re: "I thought the 777 was ETOPS 180?"

    Not to mention that the last time Boeing made a 737 with P&W engines was 30 years ago.

  6. EnviableOne Bronze badge

    Re: "I thought the 777 was ETOPS 180?"

    A321neo is more economical per seat mile and doesnt need the extra tanks on the westbound now.

    i'm prety sure the 320neo could make the trip and is a lot more economical than the 737-9ER

    the MAx9 doesnt have the range and the MAX 10 isnt fast enough.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "I thought the 777 was ETOPS 180?"

    30 years since the last PW-equipped 737? Damn, now I feel old... I earned my ATPL on a factory-fresh one.

    But its been almost 17 years since I've been in the cockpit of one after moving to 772/773. I used to work for a regional carrier based out of the UAE that used 737s but then transitioned to Emirates post-11 Sept since the US went totally irrational and started to believe that white pilots with very little experience on that type where somehow safer than non-white pilots with thousands of hours on that type. But I'm not complaining, I got better pay and more time to code on the long hauls and the night at a hotel between flights.

  8. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Re: Still have the book

    "I thought the 777 was ETOPS 180?"

    Not originally. The FAA granted that after a couple of years in service.

  9. PerlyKing
    Paris Hilton

    Gap in CV?

    "rolled off the line in 1994 [...] It spent three years as a flying testbed before being bought by Cathay Pacific, at which point it was completely overhauled [...] delivered for passenger flights in 2000"

    What happened to the other three years?

  10. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
    Devil

    Re: Gap in CV?

    Shhhh. Don't mention Boeing's brief experiment in international cocaine logistics...

  11. Korev Silver badge
    Joke

    Re: Gap in CV?

    Wasn't that Charlie's Angels?

  12. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
    Alien

    Re: Gap in CV?

    Well, NASA were having problems with the shuttle so....

  13. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    It's amazing how close the 777 got to a perfect safety record. They hadn't had a fatal crash until just a few years ago, and the first one of those was shot down and the other an unknown cause. Despite the fact that so many people (including me) doubted them over their long ETOPS rating despite only having 2 engines.

    It's amazing how safe modern aviation is.

  14. Korev Silver badge

    It's amazing how close the 777 got to a perfect safety record. They hadn't had a fatal crash until just a few years ago,

    There was the "slightly premature landing" at LHR caused by ice buildup

  15. smithwr101

    First "Fatal crash"

    Fortunately, no-one was killed. Otherwise it would have been a "fatal" crash.

    I think the Asiana accident at SFO was the first and only fatal accident, where the aircraft has been found and was not shot down.

  16. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
    Happy

    There was the "slightly premature landing" at LHR caused by ice buildup

    The pilots walked away, so that's a perfect landing.

    Admittedly they weren't able to use the plane again - but you can't have everything...

    If single-use vehicles can work for the space industry, I don't see why the airlines can't adopt it too...

  17. Vinyl-Junkie

    Re: The pilots walked away, so that's a perfect landing.

    No, that's a good landing. A great landing is one where you can use the aircraft again afterwards and a perfect landing is either a)one where the occupants don't notice you've landed until the nosewheel hits the deck or b) unobtainable; depending on which of my instructors I was flying with that day. The theory behind b) is that a good pilot will always think of something he/she could have done better, no matter how good the end result.

  18. anothercynic Silver badge

    Fatal hull loss is more accurate

    Yeah, the B777 is pretty safe.

    Actually the first fatal hull loss is the Asiana flight (pilot error and bad documentation by Boeing) into San Francisco that cost several occupants their lives when the tail was ripped off.

    Both Malaysia Airlines flights occurred after that.

    There are some other incidents that have cost lives but not the hull (BA flight at Denver International), and vice versa (notably the BA pancake at Heathrow due to icing, the Cairo Egyptair cockpit fire due to electrics, the Emirates pancake at Dubai International due to bad landing and pilot error).

    For a production run of around 560 examples of the B772, 4 hull losses (excluding the Malaysia Airlines incidents) are pretty good going. The B773 has racked up one hull loss (Emirates, and that was Emirates' first hull loss ever too).

  19. SkippyBing Silver badge

    Re: Fatal hull loss is more accurate

    'Actually the first fatal hull loss is the Asiana flight (pilot error and bad documentation by Boeing) into San Francisco that cost several occupants their lives when the tail was ripped off.'

    I believe, and I've used it as an example in Human Factors training a few times, one stewardess was killed when her seat departed the aircraft. Two passengers departed the aircraft because they weren't strapped in*, one of whom only actually died after a fire truck drove over her. The second time.

    *Always strap in unless you want to get up and walk somewhere.

  20. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Re: Fatal hull loss is more accurate

    There was a lawyer at Sioux City (Iowa) who was so worried about fire that he decided to jump clear of the plane as soon as it hit the runway - admittedly needing time to get the exit open first.

    He was killed instantly on hitting the tarmac of course, whereas a lot of passengers survived that. It didn't help that the pilots were landing at ludicrous speed, on account of having no hydraulics, steering, flaps, spoilers or other such luxuries. An amazing piece of flying.

    Especially from the pilot kneeling on the floor, operating the throttles (and therefore doing most of the steering) - who had no safety belt (let alone seat), and can't have held out much hope of surviving himself even if he did bring the plane in successfully.

  21. eldakka Silver badge

    Re: Fatal hull loss is more accurate

    I believe, and I've used it as an example in Human Factors training a few times, one stewardess was killed when her seat departed the aircraft. Two passengers departed the aircraft because they weren't strapped in*, one of whom only actually died after a fire truck drove over her. The second time.

    Wow, that sounds more like a skit from a satire like Airplane!

  22. M.Heisenberg

    Re: First "Fatal crash"

    And that was due to pilot error - it got flown into the ground.

  23. SkippyBing Silver badge

    Re: Fatal hull loss is more accurate

    'Wow, that sounds more like a skit from a satire like Airplane!'

    You can now find some pretty disturbing video of it happening, after they'd blanketed the area she was lying in with foam.

  24. EnviableOne Bronze badge
    Joke

    Obv a crab

    In the RAF they say a landings ok, if the pilot can get up and walk away,

    but in the Fleet Air Arm the chances are grim if the landings piss poor and the pilot cant swim

  25. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Re: First "Fatal crash"

    "I think the Asiana accident at SFO was the first and only fatal accident"

    That one is arguably egrarious pilot error. Pressing on regardless might be ok in a single seater but not when you're flying a bus and you have 200+ other people in back counting on you not to fuck up.

  26. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Re: Fatal hull loss is more accurate

    *Always strap in unless you want to get up and walk somewhere.

    I always put it as "unless you like being bounced off the ceiling occasionally"

  27. SkippyBing Silver badge

    More than 8 hours

    The Hong Kong - Pima leg is going to be more like 15 hours if my LAX - Hong Kong experience is anything to go by. I don't sleep well on planes so the last four hours was a bit of a head-f**k.

    Incidentally the Pima County Air and Space Museum is well worth a visit, it's right next to the desert boneyard where they store retired warplanes and has an example of everything that's been through there, one offs like the F-107, and some oddities like a Shackleton and Gannet which I didn't expect to see. You can also get a bus tour of the boneyard from the museum.

  28. Vinyl-Junkie
    Thumb Up

    Re: More than 8 hours

    Looking at the museum on Google Earth it seems that the outside collection of the museum is pretty amazing, not just the US types but a whole host of other nations' aircraft too. So far I've spotted a Hunter, a Lightning, a Vampire, a Hunter, a Gnat. the Shack and Gannet already mentioned! Plus a whole host of former Soviet stuff.

  29. phuzz Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Re: More than 8 hours

    They've got two B-52's (plus another one in what looks to be the non-public section)! I'm pretty sure I can spot three Harriers too, and there's a Super Guppy and a whole row of choppers which are a bit too small for me to make out. See here.

    I'm pretty sure I could spend two weeks going round the US just looking at aerospace museums, and I'd still have to miss some off the list.

  30. P0l0nium

    Re: More than 8 hours

    From Pima you should head south of Tucson to the Titan Missile silo (where they filmed "Star Trek First Contact") . That is stupendous (if you're a "cold warrior").

    They even let you press the "doomsday button" :-)

  31. SkippyBing Silver badge

    Re: More than 8 hours

    'I'm pretty sure I could spend two weeks going round the US just looking at aerospace museums, and I'd still have to miss some off the list.'

    Ditto, I've seen a lot of the ones in the LA area through an equally aviation mad friend having emigrated there a few years back. You can find some unique stuff in the oddest places, e.g. the Western Museum of Flight at Torrance airfield is essentially a single hangar unit, but has one of the two YF-23 prototypes.

  32. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Re: More than 8 hours

    "I'm pretty sure I could spend two weeks going round the US just looking at aerospace museums"

    You could spend two weeks just going around Pima... I did.

  33. naive

    Is "designed by computer" better ?.

    Delays like Boeing is experiencing with the new KC-46 tanker always seem a bit weird to me, the Boeing engineers in the 1950's designed the KC-135 in a few years, using paper design plans, and they are still flying over 50 years later.

  34. Vinyl-Junkie

    Re: Is "designed by computer" better ?.

    The point about designing by computer is it allows you to test the aircraft's performance in flight without putting test pilots' (or other pilots') lives at risk. Have a read about the yaw damper problems found on early 707s, one of which killed four people and another of which would have killed many more had a Boeing test pilot not been on board at the time.

    The first Boeing 707 crash occurred a year after it entered service during a training flight simulating a variety of landing problems. Boeing modified the rudder on existing and future aircraft to give a greater degree of lateral control at low speeds and power settings.

    With the modern design process both the yaw damper and rudder problems would have been identified and solved before the first aircraft left the production line; as the aircraft would have "flown" both in purely computer simulations and hooked up to a full motion simulator.

  35. SkippyBing Silver badge

    Re: Is "designed by computer" better ?.

    A lot of the problems with the KC-46 are to do with the refuelling and flight management systems, the latter taken from the 777 and put into what is basically a 767 for some reason. The aircraft bit is fine. Bet the USAF feel stupid not ordering the A330 MRTT though.

  36. phuzz Silver badge

    Re: Is "designed by computer" better ?.

    The KC-46 is a military procurement program. It's supposed to go over budget.

  37. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Re: Is "designed by computer" better ?.

    >>> Bet the USAF feel stupid not ordering the A330 MRTT though.<<<

    'Not Built Here' syndrome + Boeings head would explode.

  38. SkippyBing Silver badge

    Re: Is "designed by computer" better ?.

    'The KC-46 is a military procurement program. It's supposed to go over budget.'

    You'd think that, but it's a fixed price contract so the only budget it's going over is Boeings!

  39. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    Re: Is "designed by computer" better ?.

    On paper, anyway.

    Boeing's accountants are at least as good as Boeing's engineers.

    Pork barrels don't come for free.

  40. SkippyBing Silver badge

    Re: Is "designed by computer" better ?.

    'Boeing's accountants are at least as good as Boeing's engineers.'

    Hopefully they're better or Boeing are going to be bankrupt.

  41. hammarbtyp Silver badge

    Re: Is "designed by computer" better ?.

    "Delays like Boeing is experiencing with the new KC-46 tanker always seem a bit weird to me"

    It was pretty well obvious to anyone who new the industry. Apart from the usual mission and equipment creep that you get with such programs, the aircraft was poorly suited to the role meaning that major modifications were needed

    It is based on a 767, but unlike the equivalent Airbus A330 MRT it did not already have the plumbing and belly fuel tank (The 330 wing is the same as for the Airbus 340, which means it is already stressed for the extra wing loads required to add a new engine, which makes it a great place to hang the wing refueling pods)

    In truth the 330 MRT would of been a far better option, but US procurement politics got in the way

  42. chapter32

    Re: Is "designed by computer" better ?.

    It's based on the fuselage of one 767 type, the wings of another and has some of the 787 avionics; hence the Frankentanker nickname. Using existing components is great, but the higher paid help don't appreciate the effort needed to integrate them so my guess is that some rather optimistic assumptions were made.

  43. anothercynic Silver badge

    Re: Is "designed by computer" better ?.

    The KC-46 is based on the B767. The B767 was designed to be as slippy as possible... when you then add stuff like drogues, booms, newer/different wings, extra other things to it and you don't have any previous fluid dynamics data (like the B777 or the B787 do now) to see what happens when you add that extraneous stuff, you'll find all sorts of interesting (read annoyingly surprising) things from within the airframe and the aerodynamics that cause... erm... delays. Why Boeing didn't simply use the B777 (probably because the B767 is on the way out) is beyond me.

    The Airbus A330 is fully CAD. The A330 MRTT (the Airbus equivalent of the KC-46) was also delayed by several years because of manufacturing and testing issues with the refueling boom that the Australian Air Force wanted. The RAF version of the MRTT (Voyager) uses drogue units only because Airtanker (who run the Voyagers on behalf of RAF) use several in a civilian capability.

    Airbus was happy to partner with Northrop Grumman to do the conversions for the US version of the MRTT in Alabama, but Boeing kicked up such a fuss about the contract award and pulled every string they had to have the award tender re-run (a second time, after Boeing had it the first time and lost it because of pork barrel stuffing), that Airbus just said "we're not interested in more time wasting, see ya!"

  44. anothercynic Silver badge

    Re: Is "designed by computer" better ?.

    @SkippyBing,

    And it's only because Boeing said "Ok then, we'll make this a fixed-price deal" that the Congressional comittee deciding this stuff bought into it... they baulked at the price per plane, and the inevitable cost escalations that went with redevelopment of an ancient (ok, 30 year) airframe design.

    I'm so glad to see that Boeing has to suck up these delays on their own dime...

  45. GeordieSteve

    Flew to the states on BOAC and Pan-Am 707-120's

    Really old.

  46. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    "Good god! What on earth's that Tomkinson?"

    "Model of a Boeing 777 sir. Good isn't it? It's got two Pratt and Whiney engines and ..."

    "It's a bit big for a model isn't it? What scale is it?"

    "Full scale sir. It's got a fully functional avionics suite and ..."

    "If it's full scale it isn't a model 777, it's a 777. There'll be hell to pay on speech day if anyone sees this!"

    "But sir ..."

    "Get it down to no more than a 12 inch wingspan and we'll say no more about it. You're a very stupid boy building 777s."

    "But sir, there's over 350 tons of metal in there!"

    "Do you want to be sent to the Headmaster?"

  47. Wellyboot Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Re: Bah!

    +1 for the Ripping Yarns ref :)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_2P2mFT_ac

  48. nmcalba

    50k hours vs 20k cycles

    With regard to the low number of hours per flight (2.5ish) for a long haul aircraft.

    The likely reason is that it spent a lot of its time on the Taiwan run - 1h55.

    Cathay Pacific has almost 20 flights a day from HKG-TPE - all of them large wide bodies (A330s and 777s). It is one of the busiest international routes in the world.

    Cathay also has quite a lot of other short/mid-haul routes it uses large wide bodies on - Seoul, Manila etc.

  49. Tannin

    Re: 50k hours vs 20k cycles

    If I reember correctly, it is THE busiest international route in the world.

  50. RPF

    The 747 wing never failed at all in this test!

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