Boeing’s new wide-body jet program, the 777X, has taken another hit. Reports indicate that the manufacturer has had to suspend load tests of the new model after the cargo door of the airplane exploded outward during a recent ground stress test.
According to a report by The Seattle Times, the incident took place during the final structural testing of the 777X static test airplane at Boeing’s plant in Everett, Washington, on September 5, 2019. Subject to a high-pressure stress test on the ground, the cargo door of the airplane failed – exploding outward.
“During final load testing on the 777X static test airplane, the team encountered an issue that required suspension of the test,” Boeing spokesperson Paul Bergman said in a statement, as quoted by The Seattle Times.
The cargo door failure occurred during the final testing in 777X’s certification process by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the newspaper writes. Boeing stated it is reviewing the incident to find out what exactly happened during the test.
Static test airplanes are built for ground testing only and are not intended to be flown or enter commercial service. Flight testing is a whole new ball game.
The 777X program has already taken a hard hit from issues with the General Electric GE9X engine. In June 2019, pre-delivery testing glitches detected on the new GE9X necessitated fixes that are now expected to push back first flight and delivery of the 777X, the 777-9 variant, into 2020.
A fresh and disappointing delay was also announced in August 2019, when Boeing, strained by the ongoing 737 MAX crisis, pushed back the entry into service of its smaller, ultra-long-range variant of the 777X, the 777-8, Reuters reported at the time.