Boeing on Friday said it's unveiled the largest version of its beleaguered 737 Max line, despite a worldwide grounding of the planes after two fatal crashes.
The manufacturer showed off the new jet to employees at its Renton, Washington, factory, but the plane isn't scheduled for its first flight until next year.
The ceremony comes amid one of the worst crises in Boeing's more than 100-year history. Regulators ordered airlines to stop flying the planes after two 737 Max 8s — which comprise the lion's share of Boeing's Max orders — crashed within a span of five months. All 346 people on board the two flights — a Lion Air 737 Max in October 2018 and the same model operated by Ethiopian Airlines in March — were killed in the crashes.
Boeing said on Nov. 11 that it expects regulators to clear the manufacturer to start delivering the Max planes to airlines again as early as December, but officials have repeatedly said that they don't have a firm timeline. The company has developed a software fix for the planes after a flight-control system — which was erroneously activated and repeatedly pushed the planes' nose down in the two flights — was implicated in both crashes.
Boeing has more than 550 orders for the Max 10, the largest variant, making it a small portion of the backlog of around 4,400 Max jetliners. The Max 10 can fit 188-204 passengers in a two-class configuration, compared with 162-178 passengers on the Max 8 in two classes.