Boeing's newest plane, the 737 MAX 9, flew for the first time Thursday.
The two hour, 42 minute test flight was designed to put the plane through a series of moderate tests, including shutting down and restarting the engines one at a time, checking flap setting, and cycling the landing gear. Tests over the course of the year will become more and more involved and push the airplane further, to prove to the FAA that the longest 737 MAX so far is safe and ready to fly passengers.
The plane took off from the Renton Airport adjacent to Boeing's 737 factory at 10:52 a.m., landing at Boeing Field in Seattle at 1:34 p.m.
The MAX can carry up to 220 passengers in a single-cabin layout, but more typical first class and coach configurations will carry 178 passengers. It's capable of flying up to 3,515 miles non-stop, enabling it to fly routes such as New York to London, the company says.
The slightly smaller 737 MAX 8, the first of Boeing's newest workhorse jets, was certified for delivery to airlines in early March. Because of its nearly nine foot increase in length and 16 additional seats, the MAX 9 will only have to complete about 30 percent of the testing performed on the MAX 8. The engines are the same.
The MAX 8, like the 737-800 it replaces, is considered to be the sweet spot in the market for single aisle jets. But airlines have the option to go larger.
Randy Tinseth, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president for marketing, says larger single aisle jets like the Airbus 321 and the 737-900 are moving from being only 15 percent of the market to a full 25 percent or one in four. Boeing is planning to go one better, with an even larger MAX 10, which would be the largest 737 Boeing's ever built.
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