MIAMI — As long as Mother Nature and other factors cooperate, the first Boeing 737 MAX aircraft is expected to take to the skies over Washington on Friday, January 29.

The Boeing 737 MAX has received to date over 3,000 orders from more than 60 customers worldwide, and although the Airbus A320neo has received more orders than the MAX, the Boeing 737 overall is still the world’s best-selling commercial aircraft throughout history.

The production has been moving fairly quickly.  Boeing started building the first MAX in June, with final assembly occurring just a few months later. On December 8, the aircraft was rolled out.

N8701Q (MSN 42554 / LN 5602) is the first Boeing 737 MAX Built. (Credits: Paul Thompson)
N8701Q (MSN 42554 / LN 5602) is the first Boeing 737 MAX Built. (Credits: Paul Thompson)

Boeing’s Board of Directors approved the 737 MAX program on August 30, 2011, and there are to be three variants of it: the 737 MAX 7, 737 MAX 8, and 737 MAX 9. The first 737 MAX 8 is expected to be delivered to its launch customer, Southwest Airlines, sometime during the third quarter of this year as long as all flight testing goes according to plan.

Improvements to the MAX include the new CFM LEAP-1B engine, which according to Boeing, it will help the aircraft to achieve its planned  8 percent lower operating cost compared to the Airbus A320neo family aircraft.  The new split scimitar winglets will save 1.8% more fuel than the current blended winglets, in service since 2004.