On a chilly but bright Friday morning, the 737 MAX 7 took to the skies for the first time at precisely 10:17 a.m. Pacific in Renton, Wash., as hundreds of employees watched in person and many more watched via webcast.
The airplane landed three hours later, at 1:22 p.m. Pacific, at Boeing Field in Seattle.
The pilots, Jim Webb, 737 chief model pilot with Boeing Test & Evaluation, and Keith Otsuka, Boeing Test & Evaluation chief pilot for commercial airplanes, were all smiles as they walked off the plane and were greeted by their families and company executives.
“The airplane was phenomenal, flew great and everything we could hope for. What the team accomplished is just outstanding, I’m very pleased and so thrilled for the team,” Webb said.
“This is really the culmination of thousands of hours of hard work by the team,” he added.
The airplane was ready for its first flight a day after successfully completing taxi tests. During the flight, teams performed tests on flight controls, systems and handling qualities. The 737 MAX 7 will now undergo comprehensive flight testing before customer deliveries start in 2019.
The morning takeoff drew a crowd of enthusiastic employees that included many who were enlivened to see their contributions to building the airplane finally take flight.
“First flights are always super special, especially with the 737,” said packaging engineer Jeremy Warsett. “We’ve seen a lot of them lately and this iteration, the MAX 7, is especially exciting.”
By Shaniqua Manning Muhammad, Josh Green and Jordan Longacre