Boeing officially debuted its newest aircraft, the B737 Max 7, at its factory in Renton, Washington on Monday, with flight tests expected to begin in the coming weeks.
This is the third aircraft in Boeing’s new B737 Max series – a revamp of its older B737 models – and is also the smallest, it being designed to seat up to172 passengers. However, the aircraft has the longest range of the Max series, about 3,840 nautical miles, and can fly about 400 nautical miles farther with 12 more passengers than its main competitor, Airbus’s A319neo.
“For our airline customers serving airports at high altitudes or remote locations, the Max 7 is the ideal complement to their fleet,” said Keith Leverkuhn, vice president and general manager of the B737 Max programme.
“We look forward to demonstrating the incredible flexibility and range of this airplane.”
The aircraft is next set to undergo system checks, fuelling and engine runs in Renton, and is expected to enter service in 2019 with the first aircraft going to launch customer Southwest Airlines.
Boeing has introduced three aircraft in the B737 Max series over the past three years, starting with the Max 8, which entered service last year with Malaysian budget carrier, Malindo Air. The Max 8 has a capacity of between 162 and 184 passengers, depending on whether a two- or single-class layout, respectively, is employed.
Meanwhile in the Middle East, budget carrier Flydubai recently unveiled its new business class product for the Max 8. The cabins feature 10 seats, two of which are “throne seats” as part of an alternating 2-2/1-1 layout.
The Max 9, meanwhile, is larger and can accommodate between 178 and 204 passengers in a two- or single-class set up. The aircraft debuted in March 2017 and completed its first flight in April. Deliveries are set to begin “within the coming months”, with Indonesian-based budget carrier and sister airline to Malindo Air, Lion Air, likely to be the first to receive the aircraft.
Boeing also unveiled its largest member of the Max family, the Max 10, last June that will be capable of carrying up to 230 passengers. The aircraft is being positioned as a competitor to Airbus’s A321neo and has received significant interest from airlines, notably United, which converted 100 of its existing 737 Max orders to Max 10s.