The 737 MAX 9 debuted this week in a celebration at the Renton, Wash., site that offered employees and the world their first glimpse of the second member of the 737 MAX family.
Ray Conner, Boeing vice chairman, thanked employees for their contributions not only to the 737 MAX but to aviation in general.
“There’s really nothing that has surpassed the 737,” said Conner, who noted that he experienced his first airplane rollout 40 years ago in the same factory. “It is simply the benchmark of all airplanes. And this factory is the benchmark for American production.”
Kevin McAllister, Commercial Airplanes president and CEO, told employees they are building “the legacy of tomorrow, the legacy of the next 25 years” with an airplane that is “a winner in every category.”
He added that Tuesday’s celebration was just the beginning of a series of firsts for the 737 MAX family in the next couple of months — from certification of the 737 MAX 8 to first flight of the 737 MAX 9 and first delivery of the 737 MAX 8 later this spring.
“Any way you look at it,” McAllister said, “this is the year of the MAX.”
Tuesday’s mid-morning celebration was the second of three such events planned throughout the day, enabling thousands of employees from all three shifts to celebrate the milestone.
“I’m a second-generation Boeing employee, and I remember my dad brought me and my younger brothers to see the 777 rollout,” said Josh Kreitle, a 737 project engineer. “So I think to be able to continue that legacy and share that with colleagues and friends, it’s really satisfying.”
In addition, viewers from around the globe logged on to a Facebook Live stream to see the 737 MAX take a bow in the typically soggy Pacific Northwest weather.
“Sending some Florida sunshine your way,” posted one well-wisher.
The airplane will begin systems checks, fueling and engine runs on the flight line in preparation for first flight. The 737 MAX 9 has a typical two-class seating configuration for 178 passengers and a range of 3,515 nautical miles (4,045 miles or 6,510 kilometers).
The 737 MAX 9 is scheduled to enter service in 2018. The 737 MAX program as a whole has accumulated more than 3,600 orders from 83 customers.
By Cecelia Goodnow and Josh Green