The successful maiden flight of Boeing’s 737 MAX ‘Spirit of Renton’ on January 29th, marked an important milestone for Boeing, in the company’s second century of existence. The first flight also launched the flight test phase for this important single-aisle jetliner family for Boeing.
737 MAX8 ‘Spirit of Renton’ took to the airclose to 49 years after the first Boeing 737-100 made its maiden flight on April 9th, 1967. Boeing has worked hard to play catch up with the early one-and-a-half-year lead built up by the A320neo family and delivered an on-schedule rollout for its 737MAX, late last year. Final assembly of the second and third 737 MAX 8 flight test examples is now underway and sub-assembly of the fourth and final test example is also progressing. Delivery of the first 737 MAX to launch customer Southwest Airlines is scheduled for third quarter of 2017.
The maiden flight was undertaken in cloudy weather and ‘Spirit of Renton’, a 737 MAX8 took from Renton Field in Renton and landed at Seattle's Boeing Field, after a two-hour, 47-minute flight. "The flight was a success," said 737 MAX Chief Pilot Ed Wilson, who was accompanied by Vice President of Flight Operations Craig Bomben on the flight. "The 737 MAX just felt right in flight giving us complete confidence that this airplane will meet our customers' expectations,” said Wilson. Powered by CFM InternationalLEAP-1B engines (the sole powerplant offered on the type), the jetliner reaching a maximum altitude of 25,000 feet (7,620 m) and an airspeed of 250 knots, or about 288 miles (463 km) per hour typical of a first flight sequence.
When it comes to head to head numbers between the A320neo Family and the 737MAX, Airbus continues to lead with a total of 4471 orders for neo versus 3072 for the Boeing’s MAX (data as of December 31st). More than 90% of 737MAX orders are for the MAX8, followed by the MAX9 (7 %), and MAX7 (2 %). The 737MAX Family, accounted for 409 of the 768 net orders Boeing announced in 2015. Boeing also received orders in 2015 for 199 737-800s and 35 737-900ERs.The new 737 MAX 8 will deliver 20 percent better fuel efficiency than the first Next-Generation 737s – and 8 percent per seat lower operating costs than the A320neo.