The new 737 MAX 7 departs from Renton on its first flight
Boeing’s newest offering, the 737 MAX 7, took to the skies on March 16, an uncharacteristically sunny, blue-sky day for a Boeing first flight — most all of them in recent memory have taken place on truly miserable days.
Crews prepare the jet for departure
The new jet is the smallest of the MAX family, has a seating capacity of 138-172, and a range of 3,850 nautical miles, which is the longest reach of any of the MAX models. Southwest Airlines, with its famously all-Boeing 737 fleet, is listed as the launch customer, with a scheduled entry in to service of 2019.
Renton Municipal Airport, home of the Boeing 737
In the past, we have featured plane spotting guides for Paine Field and also other airports like Anchorage or Tokyo Haneda. With numerous airports in the Seattle area, including SeaTac and Boeing Field, there is sometimes a forgotten, but quite important, airport for plane spotters which provides a continuous stream of aircraft to spot. I am speaking of Renton Municipal Airport, the home of Boeing’s narrow-body aircraft plant.
The southern threshold of Renton’s runway
The Renton Airport traces its history back to World War II. Originally built on reclaimed land from Lake Washington, the airport was built by the Department of Defense (DoD) to support Amphibious Aircraft being built by Boeing on Lake Washington. The PBB Sea Ranger project was cancelled after the prototype was built, so Boeing ended up using the facility to produce the B-29 Superfortress. By the end of the war, a total of 1,119 were built.
After the war, the City of Renton purchased the airport back from the DoD for $1 and the facility laid dormant for a few years. In 1948, the KC-97 Stratofreighter project brought the airport back to life and thus began a long and productive history of aircraft to flow out of the Boeing factory doors. The first Dash 80 aircraft, famous for the barrel roll over Lake Washington, rolled out in May 1954. Renton was the home of every single 707 built.
The 727 & 757 were all built there as well. However, Renton is famous these days for being the home of the 737, where production stands at a massive 42 aircraft per month.
United’s latest 737-900ER, taxiing at Boeing Field
On Wednesday April 16th, United took delivery of its latest 737, but this one was special.
A 737-900ER was delivered from Boeing Field, marking a special occasion for not only Boeing but also United. The aircraft was the 8,000th 737 to roll out of the Renton factory, and became one of over 550 of the type to be delivered to United since its inception.
Outside the Boeing 737 factory in Renton, WA. The air frames of the 737 arrive via train. Photo: David Parker Brown
This summer I was excited to take a tour of Boeing’s 737 factory, located in Renton, Washington, with my colleague Chris Sloan over at Airchive.com. Over the past few months we have shared some pretty amazing stories and now I want to give you a photo tour of the facility and walk you through our adventure.
One of my favorite aspects of the facility is the parking lot – yes, that is right. Well, not the lot itself, but the fact that the Boeing 737 actually starts at Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, KS and the fuselage is transported by train to Renton.
If you like planes and trains (which I do), nothing beats catching a glimpse of one of the 737 fuselages riding on a train to the Renton 737 factory before it is dropped off in the parking lot [this photos shows a bit better how close the plane is to cars].
My latest trip into the factory was my third visit, but the first where I was allowed to bring a camera. Unlike Paine Field, which offers public tours, the 737 factory is closed to the public. For last year’s Aviation Geek Fest, we were very lucky to bring our entire group through the factory – something that will not soon be forgotten.