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This is Boeing's newest airliner: the 737 Max

Boeing 737 Max 8Boeing

Late last year, Boeing rolled out the first completed 737 Max 8 airliner at its assembly facility in Renton, Washington. The company’s next-generation single-aisle plane was presented at a ceremony in front of several thousand Boeing employees.

Over the years, the 737 family has become the best-selling airliner in the history of commercial aviation, with more than 13,000 aircraft sold since 1965. It is arguably Boeing’s bread-and-butter model.

“Today marks another in a long series of milestones that our team has achieved on time, per plan, together,” Boeing Vice President Keith Leverkuhn said in a statement. “With the rollout of the new 737 Max — the first new aeroplane of Boeing’s second century — our team is upholding an incredible legacy while taking the 737 to the next level of performance.”

Since its introduction in 1967, Boeing's 737 has helped revolutionise short- to medium-range air travel. Upon its debut, the original 737 was dubbed the 'baby Boeing.'

The 737 offered airlines a capable and reliable aircraft at a much lower price than Boeing's larger and more expensive 707 and 727 models — perfect for short routes between cities.

Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

In the late 1970s, Boeing developed a generation of 737 jets called the 'Classic Series.' They offered more range and seating capacity. In addition, the Classic Series was offered with the new CFM56 turbofan engines, which provided greatly improved fuel economy and power.

China Photos/Getty Images

In 1997, Boeing introduced a further upgraded series of 737 called the '737 Next Generation.'

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Equipped with updated avionics, a full-glass cockpit, and fuel-saving winglets, these are the 737s we see in service today.

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With competition from the Airbus A320 at a fever pitch, Boeing has launched the latest generation of the venerable jet: the 737 Max.

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The 737 Max will compete against Airbus' new A320neo.

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

The first 737 Max rolled out of the production hangar on November 30, 2015, before heading to the paint shop. According to Boeing, the jet met the company's production deadline, which was set more than four years ago.

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With the less-than-successful sales run of the latest 747 jumbo jet and ...

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... the rocky rollout of the 787 Dreamliner, ...

.... the on-time and thus-far trouble-free arrival of the new 737 is refreshing.

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To create the Max, Boeing made significant changes to the existing 737.

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Boeing claims that the 737 Max's new wing tips reduce fuel consumption by 1.8%, compared to the current generation's wings.

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The new jet will come with state-of-the-art, fuel-saving CFM International Leap 1B engines.

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Boeing also redesigned the fuselage and wings of the jet to reduce weight and optimize aerodynamics.

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Altogether, the company says the new jet is 20% more fuel efficient than the current 737 in service, and ...

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

... 8% cheaper per seat to operate than the rival A320neo.

Airbus

Up front, the Max features a full-glass cockpit and the latest avionics.

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Although the passenger cabin of the first Max was filled with flight-testing equipment, ...

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... planes pulling passenger duty will feature Boeing's 'Sky Interior.'

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The Boeing 737 Max series will range from the smaller, 149-seat Max 7 to the 220-seat Max 9. The jet that debuted is a 189-seat Max 8.

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The second and third 737 Max aircraft are currently working their way down Boeing's Renton production line.

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Currently, Boeing has nearly 3,000 orders on the books for the 737 Max. At 2015 prices, the smaller Max 7 starts at $90.2 million per plane, while the Max 9 starts at $116.6 million.

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Boeing expects the Max to make its maiden flight in early 2016 with ...

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... delivery to launch partner Southwest scheduled for the third quarter of 2017.

Southwest Airlines

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