In Auburn, Washington, Boeing has begun fabricating the first parts to be included on the the first 737 MAX, set to fly tests in 2016, and join airline fleets in 2017. The parts, called fuselage stringers run the length of the fuselage structure giving it stability and strength.
From Washington, the stringers will be sent to Wichita, Kansas, where they'll be integrated into the 737 MAX fuselages, completed at Spirit Aerosystems. From there, they're shipped by rail back to Renton, Washington for final assembly. 737 MAX Chief project engineer Michael Teal said:
"It's very exciting now. Getting the engineering done right, on schedule is a leading indicator that we will be successful in accomplishing what the customers are asking for."
Boeing says final assembly of the first 737 MAX will happen in 2015. New CFM International LEAP-1B engines along with Advanced Technology winglets will make the MAX 20 percent more efficient than the 737NG series when it was introduced in 1997. Boeing also claims it will be eight percent more efficient than the competing Airbus A320neo. The cabin of the plane will also feature large, pivoting "Space Bins." So far, orders for the 737 MAX series number 2,295 planes from 47 airlines. Southwest Airlines is the Launch Customer of the MAX, meaning they'll be the first airline to have them in their fleet.