After rolling out the first 737 MAX late last year, Boeing is ready to take to the skies this morning in Renton, Washington where the aircraft is being built. Don't expect a transcontinental flight, though — the first few flights for a new aircraft of this complexity are straightforward, local, and carefully planned, designed to make sure everything is operating as expected.
The 737 MAX, like Airbus' competing A320neo, is a relatively mild evolution of a mass-market airliner that has dominated the skies for decades. The original 737 dates back to the 1960s, improving over the years with different sizes and seating configurations, better engines, and longer range. The big thing with the MAX is the so-called LEAP-1B engine, promising 20 percent better fuel efficiency than the family of models it's replacing. (The A320neo's focal point is its new engine, too.)
The flight is expected for 10AM Pacific, 1PM Eastern, though it could be called off if the weather deteriorates. Tune in!
Update Jan 29 12:50PM ET: Boeing reports that "it took off a little bit early," and indeed, the MAX is airborne. If you stay tuned to the stream, you may be able to catch the landing.