Two years after it was taken from the skies and banned from flying passengers, the Boeing 737 Max was cleared for take-off last week and is expected to return as the workhorse it wasbefore air crash disasters in 2018 and 2019 grounded the aircraft around the world.
The largest variant of Boeing B737 Max family took its first flight, taking off from Renton Field in Washington and landing at Boeing Field in Seattle.
The B737 Max 10 was wheeled out in a low-key ceremony back in November 2019, and had been expected to take flight in 2020.
But all of Boeing’s Max aircraft remained grounded until late 2020, when the FAA cleared the plane to fly again following modifications carried out as a result of two fatal crashes that killed 346 people.
The B737 Max 10 can carry up to 230 passengers, and is now scheduled to enter service in 2023, following completion of a test program and certification by regulators.
In a statement Boeing’s B737 Chief Pilot Captain Jennifer Henderson said:
“The airplane performed beautifully. The profile we flew allowed us to test the airplane’s systems, flight controls and handling qualities, all of which checked out exactly as we expected.”
The news follows the delivery of the first B737 Max 200 to Ryanair last week – a densely configured version of the B737 Max 8 which can carry up to 197 passengers.
“The 737-10 is an important part of our customers’ fleet plans, giving them more capacity, greater fuel efficiency and the best per-seat economics of any single-aisle airplane,” said Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Our team is committed to delivering an airplane with the highest quality and reliability.”
United Airlines is the largest customer of the B737 Max 10, with 100 aircraft on order. Other major customers include Vietjet Air, Flydubai and Lion Air.