Boeing Commercial Airplanes reported success with the first flight of the 737 MAX 9, a test flight completed conducted from Seattle and completed in the sky above Puget Sound. The OEM added that the 737 MAX program is on schedule, beginning a comprehensive flight-test program leading to certification and delivery, which is scheduled now for 2018.
The flight lasted two hours, 42 minutes, and involved of the airplane performing tests on flight controls, systems and handling qualities. Next, the MAX 9 will undergo comprehensive flight-testing before customer deliveries begin in 2018.
"The 737 MAX team continues to fire on all cylinders," stated Keith Leverkuhn, v.p. and general manager for the 737 MAX program. "Each new milestone we meet builds knowledge and experience that gets leveraged to keep the program moving forward on track."
The 737 MAX is a series of twin-engine narrow-body aircraft, the fourth generation of Boeing’s 737 series, incorporating the new CFM International LEAP-1B engine, split-tip winglets, and a modified airframe.
There are three basic variants to the new design: the 737 MAX 7, MAX 8, and MAX 9. The 737 MAX 8 completed its first flight early last year, and gained FAA certification during Q1. The MAX 8 is expected to enter service this year.
The 737 MAX 9 will have a maximum capacity of 220 passengers and a range of 3,515 nautical miles. The MAX 7, a smaller version, and a higher capacity MAX 200, will be introduced in 2019. Boeing has also designed a larger version, the 737 MAX 10 which, according to reports, could be in production and ready for delivery by 2020 – assuming a sufficient number of orders.
To date, Boeing has logged over 3,700 orders from 86 customers for the 737 MAX series. Indonesian low-cost carrier Lion Air has been named the launch customer for the 737 MAX 9.
"The MAX 9's first flight is another milestone that continues the program's strong track record of progress," according to Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Kevin McAllister. "The MAX family of airplanes offers more value than any competitor and its strong market acceptance is reflected in over 3,700 airplanes on order from 86 customers around the world."