Just over 10 years ago in 2005 Boeing began work on the first 737, which was project-named “Yellowstone”. The idea behind the project was to offer a replacement aircraft that would be capable of producing as much as 20-25% improvements on operating costs by utilizing 787 technologies. But the project was unfortunately abandoned three years later in 2008 because the improvements were less than half of what was expected.
In 3 years after this we then saw a re-engined version of the 737 NG, a move from Boeing that was possibly speeded up because of the announcement that came from Airbus about the LEAP-X re-engined A320 NEO.
The First 737 MAX Begins its Assembly
A few years ago in 2014 Boeing decided to announce the launch of the 737 MAX 200 (the 200 standing for the amount of seating capacity that would be available on the aircraft). The MAX 200 is said to be the same kind of aircraft as the MAX 8 just with that increased capacity and an extra pair of Type II doors.
So far the company has received close to 3,000 orders for the new debutant. Some of the new features on this 737 family airliner include an 11% reduction in fuel burn as well as a 7% reduction in operating costs. Add to that the new engine, advanced technology and structural strengthening and you have yourself a new aircraft with many eco-improvements.
From a passenger point of view there is said to be better leg room when seated, and for the cockpit there will be four 15.1-inch LCD display screens that are set in landscape orientation.
At the moment the 737 MAX is under assembly, but predicted dates have already been circulating for its maiden flight which is expected to be sometime in the year 2019, after the final testing phase has been completed.
The Testing Phase of the 737 MAX 200
Boeing tends to have a standard flight-testing procedure for all new aircraft, which encompasses a low and slow flight path. This allows the engineers to spot any problems in relation to the engines, structure and handling of the plane. Once this flight path has been completed and the team is satisfied with the flight, other tests on the aircraft will commence before it is ready to roll off the production line and take its first 200 customers to the skies around the Atlas.
Other testing includes landing and take-off, the IT systems on-board the plane, and that the plane can handle higher altitudes at much faster speeds without any major concerns. This is basically everything that they look for when the plane is put through the initial tests of the wind tunnel on the ground.
The production line itself is based in Renton, WA and images have already surfaced of the new winglet design which sports advanced technology split wingtips. The only thing that hasn’t been addressed yet is the tail, which is said to be coming to the assembly line soon.
Overall, Boeing is pushing hard on the production line in order to make sure that the first airliner rolls out completed by the end of the year, with Southwest Airlines expecting to be the first customers to take delivery of the MAX 200 sometime in the third quarter of 2017.