The first Boeing 737 MAX 7, the smallest and newest member of the MAX family, has rolled off the assembly line at US manufacturer’s Renton plant in Washington state and is heading for flight testing.
The jet, capable of seating up to 172 passengers, has the longest range of Boeing’s narrowbody family at 3850 nautical miles (7130kms) and is scheduled to enter service with launch customer Southwest Airlines in 2019.
It is second in range to the Airbus A321LR, a bigger single aisle jet with the ability to carry 240 passengers 4000nm (7408kms). The A321LR began flight testing on January 31.
The 737 MAX 7 is seen as particularly suited to operations in hot and high conditions.
It can fly 1000 nautical miles further than its predecessor, the 737-700, and has 18 per cent lower fuel costs per seat.
Boeing also claims it is superior to its Airbus competitor, the A19neo. The manufacturer says it can carry 12 more passengers an additional 400 nautical miles with 7 per cent lower operating costs per seat.
“For our airline customers serving airports at high altitudes or remote locations, the MAX 7 is the ideal complement to their fleet. We look forward to demonstrating the incredible flexibility and range of this airplane,” Boeing 737 MAX program general manager Keith Leverkuhn said in a statement.
“This is the third 737 MAX family member our team has successfully introduced in just three years. That’s a phenomenal accomplishment and a testament to the dedication of the entire 737 team.”
The plane is one of two flight test planes and is scheduled to begin flight testing in coming weeks. In the interim, it will undergo system checks, fuelling and engine runs on the flight line in Renton.
Boeing already has the 737 MAX 8 in service and MAX 9 will start deliveries this year. The biggest member of the family, the MAX 10, is scheduled to enter service in 2020.
The 737 MAX is the fastest-selling airplane in Boeing history, accumulating more than 4,300 orders from 92 customers worldwide.