Boeing’s largest 737 variant, the MAX 10 jet, completed its first successful flight over the weekend, as part of a comprehensive test program verifying it is safe for entry into service.
The flight took off from Renton Field in Washington at 10:07am on Friday, and after a smooth run, the jet successfully landed at 12:38pm at Boeing Field in Seattle.
“The airplane performed beautifully,” said 737 chief pilot Captain Jennifer Henderson. “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.”
As part of the testing program, the planemaker will work closely with regulators to certify the MAX 10 before its predicted entry into service in 2023.
“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.”
The jet can carry up to 230 passengers and allegedly pioneers in environmental improvements compared with other Boeing aircraft such as the Next Generation 737, cutting carbon emissions by a further 14 per cent and reducing noise pollution by 50 per cent.
The MAX 10 competes with Airbus’s A321neo, and comes after Boeing sought a larger aircraft than the MAX 9. It contains a larger engine, stronger wings, and telescoping landing gear.
After the 737 MAX groundings from 2019 until November last year caused by two fatal crashes resulting in 346 deaths, Boeing has aimed at restoring consumer confidence, especially after the recertification of the MAX family.
The news comes after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last week mandated additional inspections of the MAX’s Maneuvering Control Automated System (MCAS) – which has largely been considered the cause of the two fatal MAX crashes – to ensure the system’s longevity.
This means, on top of existing inspections, when an aircraft reaches 6,000 flight hours, it must receive three additional checks – including the stabilizer trim system, cut off switches, and systems related to aileron and elevator actuator availability.
While previous fatalities and the pandemic linger, the MAX 10’s successful flight proves Boeing is making a comeback, especially after the planemaker has seen a rise in orders and deliveries.
Included in May’s figures were 61 orders for the 737 MAX, and already Boeing has received 500 orders for the MAX 10 from airlines such as United, Copa, and Virgin.