One of the most successful wide-body jet aircraft in the world, the Boeing 777 first flown on 12th June 1994. To this day 1,657 777s were built with Emirates being the largest operator of the aircraft type.
Whatever happened to the very first Boeing 777 that rolled out of the factory? Let’s find out.
The very first prototype was, WA001, FAA registration N7771, a Boeing 777-200 which was rolled out on 9th April 1994 and commenced an 11-month test flight program on 12th June 1994 with Boeing test pilots John E. Cashman and Kenny Higgins taking the aircraft for the first flight.
The first 777’s test flight lasted 3 hours, 48 minutes making it one of the longest first flights of any of Boeing’s jet aircraft. Nine 777-200 aircraft fitted with General Electric, Pratt & Whitney, and Rolls-Royce engines were used for the test flight program which accumulated 1,729 flight hours and another 1,033 hours of ground testing.
The 777 received both FAA and JAA airworthiness certification on 19th April 1995 with United Airlines becoming the first customer to operate the aircraft in the same year.
The WA001 remained with Boeing as a test aircraft for several years before the aircraft was acquired by Cathay Pacific in 2000 with the registration B-HNL. WA001 remained with Cathay Pacific for 18 years until retirement in 2018.
Up until retirement, the aircraft was used regularly as a passenger aircraft carrying out 20,519 flights and racking up 49,687 flight hours.
“As the world’s very first 777, B-HNL holds a very special place in the history of both our airline and that of commercial aviation, and we are very pleased it will soon bring enjoyment to enthusiasts at its new home in Arizona. - Rupert Hogg, Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Officer
WA001 was flown to Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona to be preserved and displayed in the museum.
The Pima Air and Space Museum is among the largest aerospace museums in the world featuring a whopping 300 aircraft including Lockheed SR-71, Boeing B-29 Superfortress, A10 Warthog, etc.