Malaysia-based Malindo Air has become the first airline to take delivery of the Boeing 737 MAX.
The airline, part of Indonesia-based Lion Air Group’s portfolio of carriers, received 737 MAX 8 9M-LRC at Boeing’s Seattle delivery centre on Tuesday (US time).
It was expected to enter service on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore and Kuala Lumpur-Bangkok Don Muang routes. The aircraft has been painted in Batik Air livery as Malindo plans to rebrand to Batik Air Malaysia later in 2017.
The rebranding will align Malindo with Lion’s Batik Air in Indonesia.
Boeing published a video of the takeoff on its Twitter page.
— Boeing Airplanes (@BoeingAirplanes) May 16, 2017
First delivery of the MAX comes a little over a week after Boeing temporarily halted all flight tests of the aircraft due to a suspected manufacturing issue with an engine component. However, flight tests have since resumed after regulators approved the aircraft to fly with engines unaffected by the problem.
The MAX is the fourth generation of the Boeing 737, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2018.
The aircraft features new generation CFM International LEAP-1B engines, as well as a new flightdeck, fly-by-wire spoilers and new technology winglets compared with the current model 737 NG.
To accommodate the LEAP-1B’s 176cm fan diameter, compared with the CFM56’s 155cm diameter fan on the NGs, the 737 MAX also features a taller nosewheel landing gear leg, while the engine nacelles’ trailing edges feature noise-reducing chevron shaping, as seen on the 787.
The first delivery took place a little ahead of the original schedule when the aircraft was launched in August 2011.
Malindo Air chief executive Chandran Rama Muthy said the MAX would allow the airline to expand into new markets and help keep costs low.
“The Boeing 737NG fleet has served Malindo well in its growth and we believe that the 737 MAX will become the centerpiece of our fleet,” he said in a statement.
Malindo’s parent company Lion Air Group has 201 MAX aircraft on order, according to the Boeing website. Further, the MAX program has received 3,714 orders from 87 customers as of the end of April 2017.
The Boeing website lists 15 airlines taking deliveries of MAX aircraft in 2017. The company has previously indicated the MAX was estimated to comprise about 10 to 15 per cent of all 737 deliveries in calendar 2017.
“This airplane will change the face of the single-aisle market,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and chief executive Kevin McAllister said in a statement.
“The 737 MAX 8 is the best in its class, providing unmatched performance and economics for our airline customers.”
Production of current model 737NGs was expected to end in mid-2019.
(Read more about the Boeing 737 MAX in the June edition of Australian Aviation, on sale from Thursday May 25.)