Boeing's 737 MAX completes first flight

Boeing's 737 MAX 8, featuring composites-intensive LEAP-1B engines from CFM International, is expected to enter service in third quarter 2017.

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The Boeing Co.'s (Seattle, WA, US) 737 MAX 8 flew for the first time on Jan. 29. The 737 MAX program achieved the milestone on schedule, which begins a comprehensive flight-test program leading to certification and delivery.

With the latest technology and composites-intensive LEAP-1B engines from CFM International and Boeing-designed Advanced Technology winglets (also composite), the first member of the 737 MAX family completed a two-hour, 47-minute flight, taking off from Renton Field in Renton, Wash., at 9:46 a.m. local time and landing at 12:33 p.m. at Seattle's Boeing Field.

During the flight, 737 MAX chief pilot Ed Wilson and Boeing chief test pilot and vice president of Flight Operations Craig Bomben departed to the north, reaching a maximum altitude of 25,000 ft/7,620 m and an airspeed of 250 knots, or about 288 mph/463 kph typical of a first flight sequence. While Capts. Wilson and Bomben tested the airplane's systems and structures, onboard equipment transmitted real-time data to a flight-test team on the ground in Seattle.

"The flight was a success," says Wilson. "The 737 MAX just felt right in flight giving us complete confidence that this airplane will meet our customers' expectations."

With the other three members of the 737 MAX 8 flight-test fleet currently in different stages of final assembly, the 737 MAX remains on track for first delivery to Southwest Airlines in third quarter 2017.

"Today's first flight of the 737 MAX carries us across the threshold of a new century of innovation – one driven by the same passion and ingenuity that have made this company great for 100 years," says Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Ray Conner. "We are tremendously proud to begin testing an airplane that will deliver unprecedented fuel efficiency in the single-aisle market for our customers."

The new 737 MAX 8, Boeing says, will deliver the highest efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort in the single-aisle market with 20% lower fuel use than the first Next-Generation 737s – and 8% per seat lower operating costs than the Airbus A320neo. The 737 MAX 8 is the first member in Boeing's new family of single-aisle airplanes – the 737 MAX 7, MAX 8, MAX 200 and MAX 9 – to begin flight testing. The 737 MAX family has 3,072 orders from 62 customers worldwide. 

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