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Apr 13, 2017

The first 737 MAX 9 at Renton on a fine day

It’s less than a day to the first flight (weather permitting) of Boeing’s second MAX 737 variant, the -9, and less than a month from the foundation model, the -8 going into service.

In a briefing yesterday on the eve of the 737 MAX 9 flight, Boeing said the new technology makeover of the single aisle jet family had its main sales prospects of perhaps as high as 85 percent of the new line up, in the three smallest versions, the 7, 8 and 200s, with the balance being the higher capacity 9 that flies on April 13, US time, or the 10X, which is at the ‘offerable’ stage waiting for launch orders.

The MAX 10X could be certified for more than 230 ‘price sensitive’ passengers, while the MAX 7 might readily fly for up to very long distances for single aisle jet with perhaps 140 seats in a two class layout.

This is a different focus to the competition from Airbus’s A320 NEO family, where the emphasis has shifted strongly into the highest capacity configurations for the A321 NEO.

(Listening to both jet makers, it is reasonable to expect that the MAX 7 and A319 NEO might have strong future claims on the middle sized VIP business jet market occupied respectively today by the smaller end of the BBJ family and the ACJ line ups.)

Boeing deputy project manager for the MAX family, Michael Teal, said every aspect of the existing but soon to be phased out 737 NG family had been minutely reworked and improved to deliver substantial gains in efficiency with a minimum operational difference to current customers.

None of the MAX family as yet ordered required flight simulator time for pilot conversions from the NG series. The requirements could be met with as little as three hours use of a program on a normal desktop or laptop computer.

Mr Teal said the expectation was that the 737 MAX 8s that went into service next month would achieve the NG’s 99.7 percent reliability rating ‘straight out of the gate’.

But he cautioned that there might be minor issues that only become apparent on entry into service that need to be dealt with to match that performance.

The 737 MAX family has been ordered by Virgin Australia, although its first deliveries might not occur until late 2019, and there is some uncertainty as to whether it will be for the 8 or the 7, since the airline is know to favor using new MAXs to replace the Embraer 190s in its current fleet as well as augment if not replace what are predominantly 737-800s today and the A320s flown by Tigerair.

Qantas has about 70 737-800s flying now and not really shown its hand as to when or with what it might replace them. It has already ordered A320 NEOs for its Jetstar low cost subsidiary, for which current model A320s and A321s provide all of its single aisle lift.

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4 comments

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4 thoughts on “Boeing’s MAX family is a day, and a month, away from key developments

  1. comet

    The 737 lives to see another day.

    1. Dan Dair

      I sometimes wonder if Boeing will eventually stretch the B737 to the same length as the A321…..
      & then stick a tail-wheel on it, so that they wont have to worry about it tipping backwards.?

      It’ll look a bit like an HP Hastings or Tudor.
      Or perhaps the biggest DC3 replica in captivity.???
      My how we’ll have progressed.!

  2. comet

    The 737- MAX 9 has had its first flight.

    Video:
    https://youtu.be/SAJo64MBnRI

    It’s the face of the first successful jetliner, the 707, continuing for another generation, with no hint of any all-new design taking over.

    1. Dan Dair

      The GTF engine is probably still about six months away from being entirely flaw free.
      At that point the LEAP engine is going to start to look very ordinary by comparison.
      When that happens the B737-MAX is going to look every bit as ordinary.
      The B737 (& the LEAP engine) isn’t actually bad,
      it’s just that the A319/20/21 (& the GTF engine) is that bit better in every respect.

      Assuming the factory-gate price of each product is essentially the same,
      which would you, or any sensible fleet-buyer choose;
      the 50+ year old airframe with the ‘old-tech’ engines,
      or the 25 year old airframe with better wings (& wingy bits & things) & the absolutely latest-tech engines.?
      (Gee, Bob, that’s a toughie……. bluff.!!)

      Still,
      what has good-sense got to do with anything when you have established airline infrastructure to bargain with……
      oh that,
      & substantially-filled & otherwise-unattributable brown envelopes.