On its way to a podium finish, the first 737 MAX 9

Let’s pretend for a moment. If you were an airline planning to buy a lot of new single aisle jets Boeing’s 737 MAX family might be of slightly confused interest this week.

Overnight in Renton Boeing rolled out a real MAX jet, the first of the 737 MAX 9 model, which corresponds to the current series 737-900, and joins the 737 MAX 8, which is the higher tech replacement for the widely used 737-800.

However it also released earlier more details, and an official graphic (below), of a minor stretch of the MAX 9,  the MAX 10, via Twitter, to delegates and media at the ISTAT trade show in San Diego.

The unreal but available SuperMax, the 737 10 MAX

Leeham News and Comment has published a technical and strategic insight into the MAX 10, which seems to be a backdown by Boeing from earlier ambitions for a more capable version of the jet, as it struggles to come up with an answer to the A321 NEO, the largest of the competing Airbus line of new tech single aisle jets.

The concern du jour for the less ambitious MAX 10 appears to be that it is both on active offer to potential customers, yet there is no official delivery date, or schedule for its certification flights. Meanwhile the A321 NEO was certified to take its second engine option made by the Franco-American CFM consortium last week, and continues to eat the Boeing alternative designs alive when it comes to winning orders.

Boeing is in the position of being simultaneously humiliated and rewarded in this contest between the 737 MAX and A320 lines, being beaten by Airbus by a large margin in sales, but in a sector where demand is so high than it will according to management briefings, make more money from these jets than anything else in its history.

Some of the US business and technical media are also being mean to the Boeing jet’s prospects, no doubt to give it some tough love and encourage it to do better.

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