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737 MAX program gains momentum

Since its launch three months ago, the 737 MAX has moved rapidly from a product in development to a program with firm commitments for more than 700 airplanes.



Pending ratification of the tentative agreement with the IAM, the company has said it will build the MAX in Renton. The MAX team now has more than 300 employees, and is growing every day.

The MAX leadership team is working to create the infrastructure in Renton needed to deliver the airplane in 2017, and will expand its staff to reach more than 1,000 in the next two years.

"As we get the MAX up and running, we want to build on the world-class production system already in place," said Jim Albaugh, Commercial Airplanes president and CEO. "That's why the MAX team is based at the Renton site, working hand-in-hand with leaders of the Next-Generation 737 program."

In late October, the team passed important technical milestones and continued to engage with customers and partners to optimize the engine core architecture. Final airplane configuration is expected in 2013.

"On all accounts, we are pleased with the progress we see in the engineering development," said Bob Feldmann, 737 MAX leader.

"We already had a substantial body of work and a coordinated team that had been working on the new engine program. That's allowed this successful program ramp-up," Feldmann said.

Meanwhile, the Next-Generation 737 program recently increased rates from 32 to 35 per month and is working to reach 42 per month in 2014. Studies are under way to assess capacity to raise the rate even higher to meet customer commitments for both the Next Generation and MAX programs.

Boeing has already spent millions of dollars upgrading the Renton factory to accommodate a higher rate, and will continue to make the necessary investment.