Industry Alaska Airlines takes delivery of first B737-9 MAX

Alaska Airlines has officially accepted delivery of its first Boeing 737-9 MAX aircraft.

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U.S.-carrier Alaska Airlines has become the latest operator of the Boeing 737-9 MAX. The first aircraft was delivered from Boeing Field in Seattle to the airlineĀ“s hangar at Sea-Tac International Airport and is another step in the carrierĀ“s modernization plans.

From now on, Alaska Airlines will take five weeks to prepare the entry into service of the new aircraft. Scheduled passenger services are planned to begin on March 1. At first, the 737-9 will operate on the daily roundtrip flight between Seattle and San Dieago, and Seattle and Los Angeles. The second aircraft is set to join the fleet later in March this year.

Alaska Airlines President Ben Minicucci commented: "We've eagerly waited for this day. It was a proud moment to board our newest 737 aircraft and fly it home [...] This plane is a significant part of our future. We believe in it, we believe in Boeing and we believe in our employees who will spend the next five weeks in training to ensure we're ready to safely fly our guests."

During the five weeks, the maintenance technicians will undergo training to become even more acquainted with the aircraft, this is especially of importance after the updates the aircraft received after the two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

John Ladner, an Alaska 737 captain and vice president of flight operations, added: "Our pilots are the best trained in the industry. With the 737-9, we're going above and beyond with our training program, even more than what the FAA is requesting [...] We have high confidence in this aircraft. It's a tremendous addition to our fleet, and we're ready to start flying it in March."

The pilots of Alaska Airlines will perform more than 50 flight hours and 19,000 miles before the entry into service. These proving flights are performed in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules to ensure a maximum of safety during operations. Pilots will also receive an extra eight hours of MAX-specific training in the simulator.

In December last year, Alaska Airlines announced a modified variant of its existing MAX order. The carrier decided to order 23 additional 737-9 MAX aircraft to boost its total order book to 120 aircraft with purchase options included.

This year, after the FAA issued the new certificate for the aircraft and deliveries are now allowed, Alaska Airlines will receive 13 aircraft this year, 50 in the next and 12 in 2024. The ultimate goal for the carrier is to operate a single-aircraft fleet consisting of Boeing 737 aircraft.

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