Manila Bulletin

Boe­ing ex­pects 737 MAX-9 jet to fly in April

As larger ver­sion takes shape

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SEAT­TLE (Reuters) – Boe­ing Co. said on Tues­day it plans to fly its new 737 MAX-9 air­craft for the first time in April, a fur­ther sign the com­pany will start de­liv­er­ing the large ver­sion of the work­horse plane in 2018.

De­liv­ery of the sin­gle-aisle 737 MAX models, which re­place the cur­rent 737 “NG” in­tro­duced in 1997, is cru­cial for Boe­ing to hit the fi­nan­cial tar­gets it has promised in­vestors and to off­set slow­ing out­put of some of its largest jets such as the 777 and 747. Air­lines want the MAX be­cause it burns sig­nif­i­cantly less fuel than cur­rent models.

The world’s largest plane maker is cre­at­ing up to five MAX ver­sions, while plan­ning to in­crease out­put to 57 planes a month in 2019, from 42 a month at present.

The first MAX model in pro­duc­tion, known as the MAX-8, is on track to reach cus­tomers by mid-year.

“We are an­tic­i­pat­ing our cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the air­plane within a mat­ter of days-weeks,” Keith Lev­erkuhn, 737 gen­eral man­ager, said at a Mon­day brief­ing em­bar­goed un­til Tues­day.

The stamp of ap­proval by the US Federal Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion would come about a year af­ter the MAX-8’s first flight and al­low Boe­ing to be­gin de­liv­er­ing the $110 mil­lion, 162-seat jet­liner in the sec­ond quar­ter, he said.

De­liv­er­ies trig­ger the bulk of air­line pay­ments. Nor­we­gian Air Shut­tle will be one of the first air­lines to fly the plane com­mer­cially, likely ahead of launch customer South­west Air­lines Co., which was first to or­der the MAX but is tak­ing longer to put it into ser­vice.

Boe­ing ex­pects the MAX to ac­count for as much as 15 per­cent of the 500 or more 737s it ex­pects to de­liver in 2017, ris­ing to nearly 100 per­cent by 2020.

Boe­ing on Mon­day showed off the first 737 MAX-9 sit­ting near the end of the assem­bly line at its fac­tory in Ren­ton, Wash­ing­ton. The nearly com­pleted jet, which car­ries a list price of $116.6 mil­lion and seats 178, will un­dergo about nine months of test­ing af­ter first flight in April.

Boe­ing is mulling an even larger ver­sion, the 737 MAX-10, to take on ri­val Air­bus, which has had strong sales of its A321­neo that is a larger com­peti­tor to the MAX-9.

The MAX-10 would be 66 inches (1.68 m) longer than the MAX-9, with the same en­gine thrust. The ma­jor change will be the land­ing gear, which must be taller to ac­com­mo­date the longer fuse­lage.

Boe­ing ex­pects to test var­i­ous land­ing gear de­signs this year “to see which one... is go­ing to be the best so­lu­tion,” Lev­erkuhn said.

Boe­ing is about 90 per­cent fin­ished with de­sign draw­ings for the small­est ver­sion, the 737 MAX-7. A high-den­sity MAX-200, with seat­ing for 200 pas­sen­gers, rounds out the model line.

Sales of Boe­ing’s larger twinaisle planes have slowed sharply and the com­pany is cut­ting out­put of the prof­itable 777 by 40 per­cent this year. It will rely on the 737 and 787 to make up a large part of the fi­nan­cial dif­fer­ence.

In­tro­duc­ing new models while in­creas­ing pro­duc­tion rates re­quires Boe­ing to solve any fac­tory is­sues quickly. So far, Lev­erkuhn said, “the hours to build the MAX are meet­ing our ex­pec­ta­tion.”

 ??  ?? Keith Lev­erkuhn, Boe­ing vice pres­i­dent in charge of 737, speaks to re­porters at their fac­tory in Ren­ton, Wash­ing­ton. At right is the new 737 MAX-9 un­der con­struc­tion at the Ren­ton fac­tory.
Keith Lev­erkuhn, Boe­ing vice pres­i­dent in charge of 737, speaks to re­porters at their fac­tory in Ren­ton, Wash­ing­ton. At right is the new 737 MAX-9 un­der con­struc­tion at the Ren­ton fac­tory.
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