Posted by News Express | 30 January 2016 | 2,775 times
“It flew beautifully. We worked through checks but there were no issues.”
That was the proclamation delivered today by Captain Ed Wilson upon the successful completion of the maiden flight of Boeing’s 737 MAX in Seattle, taking the programme a step closer to its Entry Into Service (EIS).
The fourth generation of this family of aircraft comes to compete directly against the Airbus A320neo family aircraft in an ongoing battle to dominate the global narrow-body market segment.
After its introduction last December, the aircraft underwent pre-flight preparations, which included taxi tests successfully achieved yesterday.
With its first flight completed, it will be prepared for the flight-test campaign as it’s the first of four MAX aircraft that will be used to test and certify the program with the Federal Aviation Administration.
According to Boeing’s chief project engineer Michael Teal, the aircraft’s test fleet will wrap up the campaign by the end of the year.
After type certification, it’ll go to launch customer Southwest Airlines – the world’s largest 737 operator – in the third quarter of 2017.
This would be the second time Southwest launches a 737 variant, as it did in 1981 with the 737-300 programme, which entered service in 1984.
A crew of two commanded by Wilson, chief pilot 737 Programme and pilot in command, and Craig Bomben, VP of Flight Test, took the 737 MAX to a short taxi down to Runway 34 at Renton Municipal Airport in Washington state.
Takeoff took place at 9:48 a.m. local time, receiving the applause of around 4,000 Boeing employees, media members and invitees who attended to the event.
The light window was pushed forward due to adverse weather conditions.
The aircraft soared under typical Seattle stormy, threatening skies, which are almost the norm for the Boeing First Flights, like the 787-8 in December 2009.
Bomben noted that “other than deteriorating weather at Renton, we had no butterflies or jitters in our stomachs. We did get out of Renton in the nick of time.”
The aircraft (N8701Q MSN 42554/LN 5602), named Spirit of Renton, flew for two hours and 47 minutes over the west of Washington under the call sign BOE1, and landed on Boeing Field's runway 13 at 12:35 p.m.
The aircraft limited its speed to 250 knots and initially climbed to 15,000 feet (4,570 metres), and later climbed higher than 20,000 feet (6,096 metres).
The flight never exceeded 250 knots, but, perhaps owing to the maturity of the basic platform, the landing gear was retracted – “cleaning up the airframe” – for flight testing.
“We were amazed at how quiet the cabin was,” said Captain Wilson after the flight. “I took a walk mid-flight through the cabin and was impressed.”
Wilson also noted that the aircraft may return to flight test tomorrow after inspections.
The second MAX aircraft built will be incorporated into the test program within a month.
The third and fourth MAX’s are in varying stages of completion on Renton’s “Go Slow” Surge Final Assembly Line.
Boeing’s third 737 line, designated just for the MAX, is completing a single 737 MAX at a rate of around one per month during the ramp up.
This contrasts to one 737 NG about every 11 days. (CNN)
•Photo shows the Boeing 737 MAX in full flight.
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