The monumental screw up that was the 737 Max program has been getting back on track with the return to service of the 737-8 and 737-9 along with the new deliveries coming off the line. The 737-7 has been in flight test for a while now but its certification was going to be delayed until the main fleet issues had been resolved. Reports now suggest that it will be certificated in plenty of time before the year end deadline that Congress set for cockpit upgrade requirements.
A few Southwest 737-7s (Southwest is the significant customer for this marque) have been parked up at Renton for a while. These had been painted and then stored. However, a couple of 737-7s made flights to Boeing Field in recent times. These are Southwest jets but they have yet to be painted. The fact that they are on the move might be interpreted as suggesting that certification may not be too far away and that Southwest may soon be taking delivery. During the downturn that resulted from the pandemic, Southwest increased its -7 orders at the expense of the -8s. Now traffic is booming, I wonder whether Southwest will reverse that reversal and switch more orders to the -8.
The first Max7 test aircraft got a blog posting here but I have now seen the second in action too. I think I first saw it on the ramp at Renton but I didn’t see the registration so can’t be sure. Now it is engaged in testing and flying regularly out of Boeing Field. It actually departed as I pulled up, so I only got to watch it rather than get a shot. It was a bit overcast then anyway.
Later in the day it returned and this time the light was a lot more favorable. I have yet to be able to gauge it against a 700 series and see the increase in length but the bigger engines are pretty obvious. Still not a huge number of orders so we shall see whether it becomes a success but, in the meantime, we shall see them testing in the area for a while.
The 737 Max8 and Max9 Jets are both certificated and in service. Next to come along is the Max7. It is a lower priority as a result of a far lower level of orders combined with a redesign it underwent to make it larger than originally intended. It is now flying though. I saw one aircraft on the ramp at Renton when passing by and also saw the first test aircraft landing at Boeing Field. I actually saw it take off as I drove in to the city heading to a meeting and it returned at the end of the day. Neither the Max7 nor the A319neo has sold well so it will be interesting to see how many of these enter service.