Boeing once again is giving serious thought to creating its newest jumbo jet with folding wingtips.
Aviation Week is reporting that sources within the company are saying the next generation of the 777 twin-jet, wide-bodied plane will feature wingtips that can be folded upward to allow the plane to fit in gates designed for present generation aircraft.
Boeing, which has been planning the new jet for years, has yet to approve its formal offering to airlines. That offering authorization is expected to come sometime this year.
The 777X likely will have a stretched fuselage and a longer, redesigned wing. That longer, thinner wing will improve the plane’s fuel efficiency and allow it to use less powerful engines. The downside is that such a plane might not fit into standard airline gates designed for twin-engine wide-bodies.
Boeing offered folding wingtips on its present 777, but no airline opted for the optional feature.
Folding wingtips would add further weight and complication to the new plane as well as require more maintenance.
Folding wings and tails aren’t a new feature for aircraft. Most aircraft used on aircraft carriers feature folding wings to reduce storage space requirements aboard carriers.