Despite the involvement of so many companies, the 777 went on to become a commercial success for Boeing. Production of the series was underway in 1993 with a first flight recorded on June 12th, 1994. The first 777 customer became United Airlines in October of 1990. Formal entry into service occurred with United Airlines on May 15th, 1995 with official introduction coming on June 7th. The first commercial flight was recorded on June 7th, 1995 from London to Washington, D.C. Production has since surpassed 1,360 units and is still ongoing as of this writing (2012). Dispatch reliability (noted as high as 99.3%) and economical qualities have proven a major selling point with carriers concerning the 777 family. All passenger-minded versions of the aircraft can be arranged in the typical "three-class" seating configuration as needed and offer amenities consistent with expanding technologies such as personal power ports, in-flight entertainment as well as the latest in on-demand features. Since June of 1995, the 777 family line of aircraft has completed 5 million flights totaling 18 million hours of flight time. The 777 series set a world air distance record for non-stop travel by a commercial jet-powered aircraft when it completed a 11,664nm journey from Hong Kong to London over November 9th to the 10th in 2005. The journey spanned nearly 23 hours.
Design of the Boeing 777 model series is typical of passenger jet airliners to date. The type is characterized by its tubular fuselage which contains the passenger/cargo hold as well as the cockpit. The cockpit is situated at the extreme front end of the aircraft with six window panels offering excellent views out of the cockpit. The aircraft is primarily crewed by two pilots, each situated behind an all-glass cockpit with windowed views over the nose. This crew is supplemented by cabin crew in passenger airliner models as needed. The aircraft makes use of a low-set monoplane wing arrangement held at amidships and these installations sport noticeable sweep along the their leading edge. The trailing edges feature a straight section at the wing root which then sweeps back when tapering to the wing tip. Three strakes are noted along each wing underside as are speed flaps and ailerons, the latter held well outboard. Each wing also supports an engine nacelle, these engine fittings being some of the largest in commercial use today - the engine intake can easily fit a standing man, showcasing just how massive these installations truly are. In addition to the engines, the wings also house the large main landing gear legs, each showcasing six tires - an identifying feature of the series. The nose landing gear leg is of a typical dual-wheel configuration and is located under and aft of the cockpit floor. The empennage of the aircraft is conventional, with a single vertical tail fin clipped at its tip and a pair of horizontal tailplanes, also clipped at the tips. The tailplanes are set along the extreme aft portion of the fuselage sides with the fuselage then tapering into a "blade-type" cap at the extreme end. Overall, the 777 is composed of 3 million individual parts provided by some 500 global contractors making for one complex piece of aerial machinery.
Flight control for the 777 series in handled by a full digital "fly-by-wire" system, technology once belonging solely to high-end military fighter aircraft. In this system, electrical signals are sent from the pilot controls (column, foot pedals, etc...) to a central processing computer which then dictates to the various control surfaces of the aircraft as needed. This negates the use of cables and applicable wiring to achieve the same result, thusly simplifying construction and actuation. The cockpit consists of five large, full-color liquid crystal displays (LCDs) that relay pertinent flight information to both pilots. The pilots are seated in a side-by-side arrangement with equal access to all controls. The throttle is managed from a center console separating the two seats. This console forces the pilots to climb up and over when entering or exiting their respective seats. Additional controls are located ahead and above each seat position. Views from each seat are elevated, providing for a commanding view of the area ahead, to the sides and to each engine as needed. The six windowed panels converge at centerline and are heavily framed.
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