Boeing is looking to debut a new and ambitious aircraft in 2020: the 777X, a dual-aisle, twin-engine aircraft that is built around fuel efficiency. The aircraft is designed to use 12% less fuel than any competing aircraft and 20% less fuel than today’s 777. Boeing credits much of the 777X’s improved fuel efficiency to the aircraft’s composite wings, which stretch 71.8m (236ft) from wingtip to wingtip. To make sure that the 777X will fit in existing airport gates, the wingtips will be able to fold upward by 3.5m on each side.
Liebherr-Aerospace has been selected to design, develop, and manufacture the folding wing tip system. With its motor and rotating actuator, this system will fold the wing tip after landing, thus reducing the wingspan of the new wide-body aircraft by 7 meters. The folding wingtip system is the first of its kind in commercial aviation, so extensive testing is required. Not only to ensure passenger convenience (passengers should actually not hear loud noises or significantly feel the action of the mechanics), but also from a safety perspective. Failures or external threats must not compromise both primary and backup systems simultaneously. A wingtip failure will ground the aircraft!