MIAMI — Boeing’s brand new 737 MAX 7 took off on its first flight at 10:17 a.m. PT from Renton Field, Washington, initiating then its flight test program. The 737 MAX 7 passed through checks of its flight controls and systems, during its time in the air and, simultaneously, pilots verified the aircraft handling properties.
The crew onboard the test flight today were Captains Jim Webb and Keith Otsuka, who completed a successful three-hour and five-minute flight taking off from Renton and then landing in Boeing Field at 1:22 pm local time.
“Everything we saw during today’s flight shows that the MAX 7 is performing exactly as designed,” said Keith Leverkuhn, vice president and general manager of the 737 MAX program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “I know our airline customers are going to enjoy the capabilities this aeroplane will bring to their fleets.”
“The MAX 7 will provide airlines with an efficient product for opening and flying thinner markets and accessing challenging airports while enjoying all the benefits of being part of the 737 MAX family,” said Randy Tinseth, vice president of Marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
READ MORE: Boeing Celebrates the Guinness World Record 737 Program with its 10,000th Aircraft (+Photos)
Currently, the 737 MAX 7 is the third and latest member of Boeing’s 737 MAX family aircraft to be produced. It can seat up to 172 passengers, featuring a range of 3,850 nautical miles, which is the longest of any MAX family aeroplane.
According to Boeing, the 737 MAX 7 also offers higher performance to the competition, carrying 12 more passengers and 400 nautical miles farther than the Airbus A319neo, on 7% lower fuel costs.
The manufacturer expects launch customer Southwest Airlines to start operations with the 737 MAX 7 in 2019. After the test flight, the test pilots themselves were questioned by members of the media. They commented that the test went really smoothly, with the aircraft cruising at 25,000 feet and had a speed of only 250 knots.
The pilots said that this test campaign will be the shortest and most efficient in the history of the manufacturer’s testing processes. The weather was fantastic for Boeing with their MAX7, especially when generally Boeing first flight days are notorious for the bad weather.
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With the aircraft type hitting another milestone this week, with the 10,000th 737 delivered, Boeing has had a very successful week and has brought back a lot more positive PR, especially with the competition that they have been facing against Airbus.
There are currently 58 units of the MAX7 on order from three different customers, being WestJet for 23 units, Southwest Airlines for 30 and Canada Jetlines for five units. On top of this, the 737MAX8BBJ also flew for the first time this week, thus again fine-tuning and advertising the 737MAX program even further to not just the commercial spectrum but also to the business spectrum as well.
With Southwest Airlines set to be the launch customer of the type, the world will be watching the airline and how they handle with the variant when the first unit is delivered in January 2019.
Boeing will be looking to secure more orders for this variant going into Farnborough this year, especially with the 747 having more net orders than for the 737MAX7, according to the Boeing Orders and Deliveries section of the manufacturer’s website.
This article features contributions from Correspondents Zvonimir Tolj and James Field, along with Photographer Brandon Farris.