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Boeing introduced its first 737 MAX-9 to thousands of employees at its factory in Renton, Washington on Tuesday. The aircraft now has to go through system checks, be fueled up and have its engines tested on the flight line before taking to the skies for the first time in about a month.

The 737 MAX series is the fourth generation of 737s, which have been produced for fifty years. Although it looks like the 737s that Boeing has been building since the 1960s, major changes have been made through each generation. The most important new features on the MAX are its CFM International LEAP-1B engines. CFM is a joint venture company comprising General Electric and Safran. The engines produce 28,000 pounds of thrust each, and burn 15% less fuel than current-generation 737 engines.

CFM LEAP 1B engine. Photo by Paul Thompson

The MAX also has new advanced technology winglets, which generate extra lift and reduce drag, helping conserve fuel. Boeing says they’re the most efficient winglets found on any plane. Laminar flow technology was also applied to the design of the winglets, which contribute 1.8% in fuel efficiency gains.

At the introduction ceremony, Keith Leverkuhn, vice president and general manager of the 737 MAX program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes said, “The 737 MAX team continues to do a fantastic job getting us to these important milestones right on schedule. Our primary focus is delivering an aircraft that has the legendary reliability our 737 customers depend on, plus the optimized flexibility and range capability they desire.”

With a capacity of up to 220 seats and a range of up to 3,515 nautical miles, the MAX-9 is the larger variant of the MAX-8, which is already in production and will be delivered to its first airlines this summer. The MAX-9 will enter service with airlines in 2018. Boeing is also planing a smaller MAX-7, entering service in 2019. To date, over 3,600 MAX aircraft have been ordered by 86 airline customers — 418 of which are for the MAX-9.

Featured image courtesy of Boeing’s Facebook page.

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