Spirit AeroSystems and Boeing celebrate 737 MAX 9 first flight

Spirit AeroSystems and Boeing celebrated the first flight of the 737 MAX 9 Thursday when it took to the skies from Renton Field near Boeing’s 737 Final Assembly plant in Renton, Wash. Spirit AeroSystems produces the 737 MAX fuselage, pylon, thrust reverser and engine nacelle at its Wichita, Kan., facility and the wing leading edge at its Tulsa, Okla., facility.

Boeing 737 MAX -9. Photo courtesy of Boeing Airplanes.

“We’re proud to celebrate this first flight milestone with Boeing,” said Spirit President and CEO Tom Gentile. “The Spirit factory has delivered more than 9,000 737s since they entered service, and we look forward to continuing the legacy and delivering on our commitments through this newest variant.”

The 737 MAX 9 further strengthens the MAX family position in the single-aisle market and enables airlines to reach farther on almost every single-aisle route they operate today. Spirit is responsible for delivering about 70 percent of the 737 structure to Boeing and has been investing in upgrades to its historic Plant 2 and its Wichita facilities to support growing demand since 2014. Last year, Spirit opened a new 737 thrust reverser assembly area and delivered its first 737 thrust reverser with a composite inner wall.

“It’s always exciting to see your hard work take to the skies for the very first time,” said Duane Hawkins, senior vice president and general manager of Boeing programs at Spirit. “Congratulations to our Boeing customer for this significant milestone, the first flight of the 737 MAX 9.”

Spirit has more than doubled its 737 deliveries since it became a company in 2005. Spirit’s history with the program dates back to the 1960s, when the 737 Classic launched and the site was a Boeing facility. The company transitioned to work on the 737 Next Generation program beginning in 1996, and the evolution continues today.

The 737 MAX 8 program is in production and on schedule to enter service later this year.