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Boeing starts assembly of first 737 MAX wings

Boeing machine operator Les Nystrom loads 737 MAX wing skin panels and stringers into the new panel assembly line that uses automation to drill holes and install fasteners in the upper and lower wing panels.
Boeing machine operator Les Nystrom loads 737 MAX wing skin panels and stringers into the new panel assembly line that uses automation to drill holes and install fasteners in the upper and lower wing panels. Courtesy photo

Boeing this week announced it had begun work on the next generation of its most popular selling airliner, the 737.

The Seattle-based company said in a news release Tuesday that workers at its plant in Renton, Wash., last week began assembling parts of the wings of the first 737 MAX, which will be the program’s first test airplane.

The 737 MAX will eventually replace the Next Generation 737, both of which figure prominently for Wichita’s Spirit AeroSystems.

Spirit builds the 737’s fuselage as well as the struts and parts of the wing. It will provide the same components for the MAX.

Spirit officials would not disclose when it delivered parts for the first MAX, the wings of which are expected to be joined to the fuselage later this year.

“Spirit is working closely with our customer to meet their schedule on the 737 MAX and look forward to working with Boeing to introduce this game-changing platform to the market,” the company said in a e-mailed statement to The Eagle on Tuesday.

Boeing says the MAX will use 20 percent less fuel than the Next Generation 737 and the airplane’s operating costs will be 8 percent lower per seat than competing narrowbody airplanes.

First delivery of the MAX is expected in the third quarter of 2017.

Boeing says it has 2,720 orders from 57 customers for the MAX.

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