New York (AFP)

The latest addition to Boeing's MAX family of planes, the 737-10, made its maiden flight on Friday, marking a new milestone in the relaunch of the medium-haul, which had been grounded for twenty months after two accidents deadly.

The white-and-blue aircraft took off at 10:07 a.m. local time (5:07 p.m. GMT) from Renton, Wash., And after flying in clear blue skies, landed safely in Seattle at 12:38 p.m. (19:38 GMT) .

"The plane performed wonderfully," said Jennifer Henderson, the 737 pilot manager who was in charge of the flight on Friday.

"The route we followed allowed us to test the systems, the flight controls and the handling qualities of the aircraft, and all of these maneuvers went exactly as we expected," she added. in a press release.

The aircraft, which completes the Seattle giant's single-aisle range (737-7, 8 and 9), will still have to undergo numerous tests before the first units are delivered to customers, normally in 2023.

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The largest of the MAXs, the 737-10 can carry up to 230 passenger seats over 6,110 kilometers.

It sells for a list price of $ 134.9 million.

Officially launched in 2017, the 737-10 was intended to counter competition from the lengthened version of the European Airbus' "blockbuster", the A321neo, in the single-aisle segment with more than 200 seats.

The first deliveries were initially due to be made in 2020, but this date has already been postponed twice.

Boeing had to deal with the setbacks of the 737 MAX, grounded around the world after two close accidents, in 2018 and 2019, which killed 346.

Like all players in the aviation sector, the manufacturer has also been hit hard by the pandemic and its consequences on production in its factories and on sales to its customers.

A turning point was however initiated when several regulators again authorized the 737 MAX to fly at the end of 2020. Boeing was then able to resume deliveries of its flagship aircraft and orders began to take off again.

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A few hundred employees attended take off at Renton, including Commercial Aircraft Division Chief Stan Deal.

"The 737-10 is an important part of our customers' fleet plans, giving them more capacity, greater fuel efficiency and the lowest cost per seat of any single-aisle aircraft," said the latter.

© 2021 AFP