A little less than two months after its rollout from the Boeing plant in Renton (north-western US), and 16 months after the Airbus A320neo, the 737 MAX made its maiden flight on 29 January (see video).
The two-hour 47-minute flight marks the start of the flight test programme for this remotorised version of the American bestseller, the Boeing 737 that entered service in 1968. In total, the manufacturer will have four test B737 MAX’s.
This year, in addition to the test aircraft, Boeing plans to build nine production aircraft. The first delivery to the launch customer, Southwest Airlines, however, is not expected before summer 2017. The American low-cost airline has ordered 200 units.
Available in four versions (from 149 to 220 seats) the 737 MAX family, to date, totals nearly 3,100 orders from 62 different airlines. In view of this commercial success, Boeing has planned a rapid increase in production rate for their 737, from 42 units a month this year, to 57 units a month in 2019. Boeing will however produce both versions (B737NG and B737 MAX) of their twin-jet until 2018, following on with the delivery of the over 1,300 Boeing 737NG’s remaining.
The first version of Boeing’s 737 MAX 8, with its carrying capacity of up to 189 passengers, and 4,000 miles (6,500 kilometres) range, has already entered service. Equipped with winglets and LEAP engines, the aircraft will consume 20% less fuel than the Boeing 737NG. Its catalogue price is $ 110 million.