Boeing is using robots to build the wings for its new 737 jet

A Boeing 737 aircraft is seen during the manufacturing process at Boeing's 737 aeroplane factory in Renton, Washington, United States May 19, 2015. REUTERS/Saul Loeb Thomson ReutersA Boeing 737 aircraft is seen during the manufacturing process at Boeing’s 737 aeroplane factory in Renton, Washington

Boeing Co. has started building its new 737 Max single-aisle jetliner on schedule for delivery in the third quarter of 2017, the company said on Tuesday.

The first spars, or large structural wing pieces that run perpendicular to the fuselage, were loaded on May 29, said Keith Leverkuhn, vice president and general manager of the 737 MAX program.

He added that the first of the new planes is due to be completed before year end, with flight testing to start in early 2016.

Boeing is using new robotic machines, which began making wings for current generation 737s earlier this year, to assemble the MAX wings. The machines automate about 90 per cent of the wing assembly process, up from 70 per cent on older, legacy machines that Boeing has used for decades, Boeing said.

Boeing has received 2,724 orders for the next-generation plane, being developed to compete with Airbus’ a320neo.

Boeing shares rose 2.1 per cent to $US144.28 on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Alwyn Scott; Editing by Alden Bentley and Richard Chang)

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This article originally appeared at Reuters. Copyright 2015. Follow Reuters on Twitter.

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