Boeing has marked the on-schedule roll out of the first 737 MAX with a low-key ceremony at its Renton manufacturing facility just outside Seattle.
The 737 MAX 8, named Sprit of Renton, emerged from the factory and went into the paint hangar on November 30, which Boeing said was “the precise date determined when the MAX development schedule was defined more than four years ago”.
After being painted in the Boeing livery, albeit in teal rather than the traditional blue, the aircraft was presented to Boeing staff on Tuesday (US time). The tails of those who have ordered the MAX also appear on the fuselage, according to pictures supplied by Boeing.
“Today marks another in a long series of milestones that our team has achieved on time, per plan, together,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president and general manager for the 737 MAX Keith Leverkuhn said in a statement.
“With the rollout of the new 737 MAX – the first new airplane of Boeing’s second century – our team is upholding an incredible legacy while taking the 737 to the next level of performance.”
In comparison with the recent roll outs of the 787 or 747-8, which were attended by thousands of invited guests, media and Boeing staff, there was little fanfare associated with the milestone achievement of the 737 MAX program.
Boeing said the Spirit of Renton was expected make its first flight in early 2016, after some pre-flight preparations were completed.
The aircraft, powered by two CFM International LEAP-1B engines, will also be joined by two more flight test 737 MAX 8s that are currently in final assembly, while the fourth and final test aircraft is in sub-assembly.
“The 737 MAX remains on track for first delivery to launch customer Southwest Airlines in the third quarter of 2017,” Boeing said.
The Boeing website lists 2,955 orders for the 737 MAX family of aircraft – comprising the the MAX 7, MAX 8, MAX 200 and MAX 9.
By comparison, Airbus’s A320neo (new engine option) series, which includes the A319neo, A320neo and A321neo, has secured 4,443 orders.
Virgin Australia has 40 737 MAX aircraft on order, with the first of the type to begin arriving in 2018.