Assembly is underway on Boeing's first 737 MAX. Due to enter service in 2017, the new single-aisle airplane promises to deliver reduced operating costs, enhanced cabin comfort, more cabin-luggage space and significantly better fuel economy than the Next-Generation 737 it will replace.

Assembly of the wings of the first flight test airplane began in Renton, Washington, last week using the company's new semi-automated panel assembly line.

The 737 MAX family will be made up of three variants, all of which will feature Boeing's new "Sky Cabin" interior. This means larger overhead bins that don't protrude out as far, variable cabin lighting and a "logical" button layout for reading lights that's designed to cut down on accidental calls to the attendants. According to Boeing, the ambiance is also boosted by windows that are 20 percent larger than the closest rival – the A320neo.

The aircraft boasts reduced emissions and noise, increased range and 20 percent lower fuel consumption. Maximum range is now put at more than 3,500 nmi/6,482 km – a jump of up to 580 nmi/1,074 km on the Next-Generation 737 – while the fall in fuel consumption is the result of aerodynamic improvements like new "up-and-down" winglets and a revised tail design, along with the introduction of the more efficient CFM LEAP-1B engine.

The 737 MAX is slated for delivery in 2017. Boeing says it has racked up more than 2,700 orders for the plane to date.

Source: Boeing

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