Employees at Boeing Renton watch as the 737 MAX 9 takes to the skies above Lake Washington for its first flight.

Employees at Boeing Renton watch as the 737 MAX 9 takes to the skies above Lake Washington for its first flight.

Boeing in Puget Sound

Puget Sound-made 737 MAX 9 completes successful first flight

The newest member of the 737 MAX family — the 737 MAX 9 — completed its inaugural flight this month, landing at Boeing Field south of Seattle after lifting off 2 hours, 42 minutes earlier from nearby Renton Field into partly cloudy skies.

“I’ve been on the program since the very beginning,” said Tracy Russell, a procurement agent for 737 MAX fuselages, “and watching the suppliers and us all come together to get the MAX out flying is just amazing.”

Tom Duval-Wilkinson, a Lean practitioner who works to streamline the MAX build process, said, “It came together well, it is designed well, and the whole team came together and got it flying.”

Piloted by Capt. Christine Walsh and Capt. Ed Wilson, the airplane took off at 10:52 a.m. Pacific time from Renton, near the factory where employees assembled the airplane. It landed at Boeing Field at 1:34 p.m.

First flight is the latest step in the airplane’s thorough flight-test program, which will be followed by first delivery in 2018.

On first flight, teams performed tests on flight controls, systems and handling qualities. The 737 MAX 9 will now undergo comprehensive flight testing before customer deliveries start in 2018.

Veronica Wipp of 737 MAX business operations, who was on hand for the takeoff, said, “This airplane is fuel-efficient, beautiful inside and out, and customers are going to love it.”

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