Boeing's latest iteration of its 737 MAX line rolled out today at the company's Renton, Washington plant, as the first 737 MAX 7 prototype left its hanger in a predawn ceremony watched by thousands of Boeing employees. Scheduled to go into service in 2019, the twin-engine jetliner will undergo system checks and engine runs before starting test flights in a few weeks.
The third version of the 737 MAX family, the MAX 7 is derived from the MAX 8, which entered service in 2017. It's intended to replace the Boeing 737-700 as well as compete with the Airbus A319neo.
According to Boeing, it has two more rows of seats, making it capable of carrying up to 172 passengers. Its two LEAP-1B engines from CFM International give the aircraft the longest range of the MAX family at 3,850 nautical miles (4,390 mi, 7,130 km) with an 18 percent fuel savings per seat compared to the 737-700. It boasts redesigned wings and undercarriage, a strengthened airframe, and interior modifications.
The 737 MAX 7 already has 4,300 orders on the books, with the first aircraft slated to enter service with Southwest Airlines in January 2019.
"We look forward to demonstrating the incredible flexibility and range of this airplane," says Keith Leverkuhn, vice president and general manager of the 737 MAX program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "This is the third 737 MAX family member our team has successfully introduced in just three years."
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