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Boeing's big 777X airplane take flight, and more tech news today


Your tech digest, by way of the DGiT Daily newsletter, for Monday, January 27. 

1. Boeing’s enormous 777X airplane takes its maiden voyage

Boeing 777X first flight (Credit: Boeing)

The world’s largest twin-engine jet has completed its maiden voyage, giving Boeing a bright spot as its 737 MAX fiasco continues, as airplane WH-001 took off and landed successfully at Paine Field.

  • The new 777X (Wikipedia) features two models: the 777-8X and 777-9X, with the 777-9X taking the first successful flight from close to Seattle, lasting four hours.
  • It’s a very interesting aircraft because of its size and tricks: it has an enormous wingspan measuring 235 feet (71.8 m) but includes folding wingtips that reduce the wingspan down to just under 213 feet (64.8 m).
  • The folding wingtips let the 777X fit at existing airport gates, while providing the lift required for takeoff and landing.
  • It’s the first commercial aircraft with the technology, while fixed-wing aircraft designed for shipboard duty have been equipped with folding wings for decades.
  • Boeing has sold 344 of these jets, according to company filings, with Emirates the first to use them in 2021 should all go well. Emirates has purchased 115 jets, while Qatar Airways has 60.
  • Boeing says it will be “the most efficient twin-engine plane in the world.”
  • It also features the world’s largest commercial engines, General Electric’s GE9X, with a larger fan, advanced materials including ceramic matrix composites, and more – but held the plane back with some nagging problems and challenges (Engineering.com).
  • The 777-8 has seating for 384 passengers and has a range of 8,730 nmi (16,170 km).
  • The shorter-range 777-9 has more seating for 426 passengers and a range of over 7,285 nmi (13,500 km).
  • The aircraft lists for $422.2 million, but airlines generally pay significant discounts compared to the list price.
  • Video of its first flight here (YouTube) – image above via Boeing.

Hitches:

  • The 252-foot long plane has been delayed by some technical difficulties over the years, as it was meant to be in service by now.
  • Part of that was the aforementioned GE engines.
  • Also, the Seattle Times revealed explosive depressurization that tore through the fuselage during testing on September 5, 2019.
  • That caused an entire test plane to be written off, and the Times reported that the test was basically a success: it failed just 1% shy of meeting federal requirements, and “almost certainly [would] not have to do a retest”.
  • Two months later, Boeing abandoned plans to use robots to automatically assemble the fuselage of the plane, saying it was adopting a different approach that “has proven more reliable, requiring less work by hand and less rework, than what the robots were capable of.” That is, using humans again.
  • But let this not be seen as overly critical. A giant engineering project like a new aircraft is not simple, and rigorous testing that promotes failures indicates the right tests are being utilized and provides mechanisms for feedback.

2. Motorola says ‘bumps and lumps are normal’ on Razr screen. Which is a) true, b) not what my current smartphone has, c) makes it hard to accept a $1500 phone?(Android Authority).


3. “I quit the internet for nine days. Here’s how that went,” from my colleague and buddy David Imel. As he says, this isn’t a new idea, but for David it was a big thing  (Android Authority).


4. Pocophone F2: The one we’re waiting for, but can lightning strike twice? Also, the Poco X2 has been announced for a February 4 launch (Android Authority).


5. Microsoft forced to create a free Windows 7 update just days after updates ended (The Verge).


6. Apple envisions a Mac made from a sheet of curved glass. Note this doesn’t mean it’ll become a product, but it does tell us how Apple is thinking about the future (Engadget). Also made of glass: Apple’s glass orb for its Singapore store is nearing completion (archigardener.com).


7. Byte, from the creator of Vine, is here, but has to fix its spam problem first (Engadget).


8. An AI Epidemiologist sent the first warnings of the Wuhan virus (Wired).


9. The new streaming wars: A look at the battles involving streams like Ninja, who reportedly got paid $20M+ to switch to Mixer, streamers with 10K+ concurrent views on Twitch field $10M+ offers (CNN).


10. “In the not-too-distant future, I believe nearly every company will derive a significant portion of its revenue from financial services” (a16z).


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