Renton - Boeing made the first flight of the 737 MAX 7. The third and smallest member of the MAX family begins a test campaign that will lead to certification and first delivery next year.

On March 16, The MAX 7 took off from Renton at 10:17 AM local and returned to its base at Renton after a 3 hours and 5 minutes flight.

The manufacturer says the device completed the flight successfully as expected.

Everything we saw during today's flight shows
that the MAX 7 is working exactly as expected,
said MAX 7 Program Director Keith Leverkuhn in a statement.

The test fleet will include a second MAX 7. Certification and first deliveries are expected by 2019. Southwest Airlines, which has ordered thirty MAX 7, will be the first operator of the type.

The standard configuration in two-class will have 123 to 132 seats, but the single-aisle can accommodate up to 172 passengers in high density.

The radius of action is the highest in the 737 MAX family with 3,850 nautical miles (7,130 km), 300 nautical miles (560 km) more than the MAX 8.

According to Boeing, the MAX 7 can carry more passengers than its predecessor, the 737-700 NG, and go through 1,000 nm more with fuel costs per seat reduced by 18%.

The MAX 7 owes its performance to its new CFM International LEAP-1B engines and improved aerodynamics.

As its competitor Airbus A319neo, the MAX 7 is not a big commercial success. The number of orders is not disclosed by Boeing, but it is estimated at sixty by analysts. Boeing believes that the MAX 7 will appeal to airlines that need a device to open and operate low-density routes or serve high-altitude or isolated airports.

The 737 MAX family has accumulated more than 4,300 orders so far. Boeing delivered the first MAX 8 in 2017. The delivery of the first MAX 9 is scheduled later this year. The entry into service of the MAX 10 is not expected until 2020.