Boeing 737 MAX takes off

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The 737 MAX takes off from Renton on its maiden test fight(Credit: Paul Gordon/Boeing)

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The first of the new generation of Boeing 737 MAX airliners to roll off the assembly line has made its maiden flight. Today's flight of the 737 MAX 8 began at 9:46 am PST from Renton Field in Washington State and ended at Boeing Field in Seattle at 12:33 pm. The flight marks the start of Boeing's test flight program for certification and delivery.

The first flight of the 737 MAX 8 was under the command of 737 MAX Chief Pilot Ed Wilson and Boeing Chief Test Pilot and Vice President of Flight Operations Craig Bomben, who carried out a series of maneuvers to test the airframe and systems while telemetry automatically monitored the results. During the 2 hour 47 minute flight, the aircraft flew attained a maximum altitude of 25,000 ft (7,620 m) and an airspeed of 250 knots (288 mph 463 pm/h).

Today's flight was carried out by the first of the 737 MAX 8 aircraft and three more are currently under construction. Incorporating LEAP-1B engines and Boeing-designed Advanced Technology winglets, the single-aisle airliner is the first of the new 737 family, which includes the 737 MAX 7, MAX 8, MAX 200, and MAX 9.

According to Boeing, the 737 MAX will deliver 20 percent greater fuel efficiency over the previous generation of 737s (which just to confuse us is called the Next-Generation 737). It has a range of 3,500 nm (6,510 km), which is 340 to 570 nm (629 to 1,055 km) greater than the Next-Generation 737.

Boeing say it has so far secured 3,072 orders from 62 customers for the 737 MAX, with the first delivery to Southwest Airlines slated for late 2017.

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