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Boeing is testing a new 737 Max aircraft at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport this week.
The plane manufacturer began the low-altitude tests on the engine on Monday, according to airport operations manager Lionel Guilbert. The tests require a minimum 80-degree temperature. As long as weather is conducive to the tests, the aircraft will fly again on Tuesday, with Wednesday as an off day unless more tests are necessary.
“It will be flying at 1,500 feet between the airport and the Gulf,” Guilbert said.
“It’s usually something that startles people and that’s why we want to go public with it.” The plane will keep all landing gear down during the test flights, according to an SRQ release.
The 737 Max’s predecessor, the Boeing 737, is a “popular aircraft” and many of SRQ’s airlines use it, Guilbert said. He’s unsure if the 737 Max will fly from SRQ in the future, but it’s a possibility if any SRQ airlines choose to use it.
The low-altitude tests will conclude on Thursday, when the 737 Max will fly to Bolivia for high-altitude tests.
The Boeing 737 Max has a slew of improvements from its sister plane, the 737, which entered service early in 1968. Features of the 737 Max include a new LEAP-1B engine with a quieter noise footprint and a reduction in fuel consumption, according to the Boeing website.
One of SRQ’s airlines, WestJet, placed 65 orders with Boeing for the 737 Max, according to the Boeing website.
As of April 18, Boeing has 3,090 orders placed for the 737 Max.