Why the Boeing 777X became the first commercial aircraft to have folding wings

  • Boeing 777X is the first commercial aircraft to feature folding wings
  • Before it leaves the ground, the wingtips extend and lock in place
  • It increases efficiency in the air while still being able to use major airports

Published on Jan 26, 2024 at 4:58 PM (UTC+4)
by Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

Last updated on Feb 01, 2024 at 2:16 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Alessandro Renesis

The brand new Boeing 777X was designed specifically to have folding wings – but not many people know why.

Usually limited only to military aircraft, Boeing 777X is the first commercial aircraft to feature them.

But why did it need them?

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It turns out they allow the Boeing 777X to enjoy the best of both worlds with its folding wingtips.

Before the Boeing 777X leaves the ground, the wingtips extend and lock in place.

Pilots need only to be trained in operating the folding wingtip switch accessible in the cockpit for which Boeing describe as “seamless integration” with the Boeing family.

This takes it wingspan from 212 ft 9 in (64.85 m) to 235 ft 5 in (71.75 m).

This compares to the Airbus A380 Wingspan of 261 ft 8 in (79.75 m) – Code F.

Longer wings on the Boeing 777X in flight increase total lift, increase aerodynamic efficiency and lower fuel cost per passenger – allowing more to be on board.

Boeing suggests the 777X has an approximately 10 percent lower fuel burn than its predecessors.

When extended, the thin, folding wings minimize interference drag and lift-induced drag during flight.

This increases the aerodynamic efficiency of the aircraft.

Long and slender wings have a higher aspect ratio than a short, broader wing, allowing an unfolded Boeing 777X wing mimic glider wings, which are highly efficient for flight.

Giving those long wings folding wingtips simultaneously allows for a reduced wingspan on the ground.

The tips are designed to fold during taxi and parking for increased maneuverability and operability.

Much like this flying car with fold-away wings that will allow drivers to avoid traffic by soaring over it.

And it’s not the only flying car on the horizon with this one which is street legal and goes from road to sky in just three minutes.

Making the Boeing 777X suitable for Code-E-standard major airports – 170.6 (52 m) – 213.25 (65 m).

This leads to a welcome 10% lower fuel burn in comparison with previous models.

What’s more the operational configuration of the Boeing 777X is still compatible with the older 777.

While it hasn’t entered commercial service as yet, it is soon to become the first commercial plane of its size with folding wingtips.

“The new Boeing 777X will be the world’s largest and most efficient twin-engine jet, unmatched in every aspect of performance,” Boeing said in a statement.

“With new breakthroughs in aerodynamics and engines, the 777X will deliver 10 percent lower fuel use and emissions and 10 percent lower operating costs than the competition.”


Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

London-based Amelia cut her journalistic teeth covering all things lifestyle, wellness and luxury in the UK capital. Fast-forward a decade and the experienced content creator and editor has put pen to paper for glossy magazines, busy newsrooms and coveted brands. When her OOO is on you can find her spending quality time with her young family, in the gym or exploring the city she loves.