Boeing has delayed plans to unveil its huge new 777X jetliner this week following the deadly crash of one of the company’s aircraft in Ethiopia.
A Boeing 737 MAX 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed on Sunday morning, just minutes after taking off from from Addis Ababa. All 157 people on board were killed. The disaster happened less than five months after another 737 MAX 8 went down off the coast of Indonesia in late October, killing 189 people.
Boeing announced last week that the 777X, which can carry as many as 425 passengers, would make its “debut to the world” this coming Wednesday. It described it as “the largest, most efficient twin-engine jet” on the planet.
But a Boeing spokesman said late Sunday that the company is postponing the 777X’s big reveal. He didn’t say when the event is now likely to take place but added that there are no other changes to the aircraft’s schedule.
In a separate statement on Sunday, Boeing said it was “deeply saddened” to learn of the deaths of the people on board the Ethiopian Airlines flight. “We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew,” the manufacturer said.
The company has orders for more than 300 of the huge 777X planes, mostly from airlines in the Middle East and Asia. It plans to start deliveries next year.
Dubbed “the boss” by Boeing, the 777X has the largest jet engines the aerospace industry has ever developed.
Measuring 252 feet (77 meters) from nose to tail, it’s the longest passenger jet the company has produced in its 102-year history. And with a wingspan of 235 feet (72 meters), it’s also the widest.
Despite its vast wings, the 777X will still be able to fit into the same gates and use the same taxiways as today’s 777 planes thanks to special wingtips that fold upward after landing to make it narrower.
The wider wings are designed to give the jetliner extra lift and therefore help save fuel.
The 777X also features new lighting, architecture, a wider cabin and larger windows that are located higher on the fuselage than the current 777.
Rob McLean contributed to this report.