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Boeing's first 737 MAX hits the runway


Boeing rolled out its first 737 MAX this morning. It's the newest version of the 737, and the one the company is betting on to keep its grip on the single-aisle jetliner market. Next step: test flights and certification before the first airline flights in 2017.

It's an important milestone for Boeing, which is facing stiff competition for that market from Airbus's A320. Both companies are offering new-generation versions of tried-and-true planes, and the A320neo, MAX's direct competition, has about a year's headstart to the flight line, and both are fighting for the same orders.

The 737's played a big role for Boeing. In production since 1964, nearly 9,000 have been built (the most ever for any airliner) and over 4,000 more are on order. The A320 family, which includes the 318, 319 and 321, has sold about 6,800.

Both the A320neo and 737 MAX combine proven designs with new, more powerful and economical engines, combined with some other changes, including modified wings to handle the heavier engines. Boeing's hope is to keep the model updated and in production for several more decades in a market that Boeing has estimated will need 25,000 more jetliners over the coming years.


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