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Boeing suspends testing of long-haul 777X aircraft
[NEW YORK] Boeing has suspended testing on its new long-haul 777X aircraft, the company said Friday, a setback that comes as it battles to rebound from the crisis surrounding the 737 MAX.
The so-called "final load" tests are part of the aircraft certification process, overseen by inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and meant to subject the plane to "loads and stresses well beyond normal operational loads," a Boeing spokesman told AFP in an email.
"During final load testing on the 777X static test airplane, the team encountered an issue that required suspension of the test," the spokesman said.
"The testing conditions were well beyond any load expected in commercial service. The event is under review and the team is working to understand root cause."
A source close to the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity said a door of the plane blew out during the test.
Such an occurrence is rare during final load testing, an industry source said.
The FAA investigates issues that come up during structural testing of aircraft, the agency said.
The suspension of testing comes as Boeing is in the process of completing changes required by regulators to lift a flight ban on the 737 MAX after two crashes that resulted in 346 deaths.
It's also a new blow for the 777X, which was originally scheduled to take off on its first flight this summer. That date has been postponed until early 2020 by Boeing, due to problems with its General Electric engine.
The aircraft, which can carry 400 to 425 passengers, has already been ordered by eight airlines, including Emirates.
It is meant to compete with the A350 of European manufacturer Airbus.