A Boeing 777X test aircraft has been ferried to Fairbanks, Alaska, to undergo cold soak testing. This week’s move is part of the type’s preparation program ahead of its introduction in 2023.

Extreme conditions

According to Airline Ratings, the unit currently holds registration number N779XZ. It was ferried from Seattle to the Alaskan city to perform a series of tests. These experiments include the monitoring of how significant cold conditions can impact different parts of the plane. Therefore, Alaska is the perfect location at this time of year.

There are several factors to consider with this aspect of testing. For example, metals contract at different durations. Moreover, lubricants may expend their viscosity, which can create wear problems for moving parts. Plastic and rubber materials could also become brittle. The trial involves shutting down the plane for 24 hours before actioning a cold start.

Testing includes the following factors:

  • Validation of systems behaviors at considerably high temperatures
  • Rejected take-offs
  • Engine and auxiliary power unit (APU) start after the cold soak
  • Thrust-reverser tests with snowy conditions

Change of plan

This move follows important developments regarding the 777X program earlier this month. The manufacturer reduced its number of firm orders of the type by 118 units. This has left a total of 191 firm orders for highly-anticipated aircraft.

In the same week, reports emerged that Emirates, the 777X’s largest customer has been mulling over the prospects of switching some of its orders for the widebody to the smaller 787. The Middle Eastern powerhouse could swap out up to 45 units in favor of the Dreamliner. Overall, these reports emerge following the announcement that the first 777X won’t be delivered until 2023.

Still focused

Altogether, there have been complications for Boeing across the board over the last year amid the 737 MAX saga and the pandemic. However, despite struggles across the industry and a delay to the 777X’s entry to service, the company is still determined to crack on with crucial testing procedures such as this one in Alaska.

The fourth 777X test unit had hit the air for the first time in September. The quartet will prove vital for Boeing as it seeks to commit to its new introduction date.

Simple Flying reached out to Boeing for further details on this 777X cold soak in Alaska. We will update the article with any additional information from the company.

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