Boeing marked a new airplane development milestone Feb. 5 as thousands of employees celebrated the debut of the first 737 MAX 7 at the company's Renton, WA, factory. The MAX 7 is the third and newest member of Boeing's 737 MAX family to come down the assembly line in just three years -- and part of the fastest-selling airplane product line in Boeing history with 4,300 orders from 92 customers worldwide.
The single-aisle MAX 7 jet, the shortest in its family at 116 ft 8 in. long, is designed for up to 172 passengers and a maximum range of 3,850 nautical miles, which is the longest range of the MAX airplane family. It is ideal for operators who need to service airports in remote destinations, including airports at high altitude or hot locations, and low-cost carriers that have routes requiring less than 200 seats.
Although it looks similar to its predecessor 737-700, the design features of the MAX 7 (including LEAP-1B engines, distinctive Advanced Technology winglets, and other improvements) allow the plane to fly 1,000 nautical miles further and carry more passengers, while having 18 percent lower fuel costs per seat.
Boeing is also quick to point out that the new plane carries 12 more passengers and travels 400 nautical miles further than the Airbus A319neo -- on 7 percent lower operating costs per seat.
Assembly of the first MAX 7 began in October 2017. It will now undergo system checks, fueling, and engine runs on the flight line in Renton. This specific airplane, the first of two MAX 7 flight test airplanes, will begin its flight testing program in the coming weeks.
The first Boeing 737 MAX 7, shown from high above the factory floor, gets its wings in late 2017. [Craig Larsen photo]
The 737 MAX 7 is scheduled to enter service in 2019, following delivery to launch customer Southwest Airlines.
The entire 737 MAX family is designed to offer customers exceptional performance, with lower per-seat costs and an extended range that will open up new destinations in the single-aisle market. The MAX 8 (210 passengers, range of 3,550 nm) entered service with customers across the globe last year, and the MAX 9 (220 passengers, range of 3,550 nm) will start deliveries in the coming months. The MAX 10 (230 passengers, range of 3,300 nm) was launched at last year's Paris Air Show and is scheduled to enter service in the 2020 timeframe.