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single aisle jets

Jun 20, 2017

Boeing’s new 737 MAX 10 wins sales off … Boeing’s lesser MAXs

The launch of the Boeing 737 MAX 10 is a reminder that 'small' single aisle jet flights are moving to 'longer' cabins and even more boarding hassles

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

At last, we have a truly launched Boeing 737 MAX 10

The Paris Air Show can be a bit twitchy at times as Boeing found overnight when the launch of its 737 MAX 10 single aisle jet proved very successful at taking sales off smaller, earlier launched versions of its revised single aisle family.

That shouldn’t detract from the new variant’s strong points, but it is a reminder in relation to all Paris exhibitors and their claims for buyers and of course spectators, to beware of spin.

The rigorously spin resistant Leeham News analysis and reporting site has this to say about the prolonged gestation of the largest of the MAX babies, in this earlier article, and in last night’s follow up.

It has even been calculated, in the discussions, and elsewhere, that the 240 new orders for the 230 nominal passenger count 737 MAX 10 include perhaps poorly described memorandums of understanding rather than ‘$$$ orders’ and may represent additional MAX family sales of 66 jets, which is slightly less 737s than currently in service with Qantas (which is being much pursued by Boeing and Airbus to replace them of course with their newer technology offerings.)

There is now the clearest of trends among single aisle jet buyers to choose the bigger variants, and to up-size earlier orders where that is possible before delivery.

All of this said, for fanboys and fangirls of the jet makers, Boeing has scored a smashing victory over Airbus in terms of orders, commitments, understandings, and the exchanges of deep heavy breathing protestations of  admiration on Monday, day one of the serious Paris Air Show business.

Overall, Boeing will also have to perform miracles of salespersonship to overtake the crushing success to date of its A320 NEO higher tech single aisle family over the at times lacklustre ordering of its delayed 737 MAX family response. Airbus went into the new single aisle jet market hard, and early, and is outselling Boeing by around 6:4 as the result of occupying the single aisle high ground early and doing so with well defined products.

No-one in the general and technical media knows exactly what deals Airbus and Boeing have offered to secure sales of airliners that are said to only rarely actually change hands for anything like the official list prices.

In a game where very high fuel prices are fading into recent history, real purchase prices are said to make or break deals rather than claims of margins of technical or design superiority. This makes it unwise to predict winners.

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16 thoughts on “Boeing’s new 737 MAX 10 wins sales off … Boeing’s lesser MAXs

  1. Tango

    First thing that comes to mind is bring on the 797!

    Screwy world where you cannibalize your own newest offering for a not so hot performing and even more expensive to make offering. Phew.

    That said, I think there should be some lines drawn and re-thunked.

    The 738-800/8 are a tad better than the A320 as they are a bit bigger. Not huge but a bit.

    If you add in the 737-900/9 as an adjunct to the 800/8, then perspective changes and Boeing is quite competitive with a very old product structure even if its not the same it was back in the day of a 100 passenger jet. Add up the numbers and its close.

    Where Airbus is killing them is the A321. Not only sales, but as Boeing has no competitor there, Airbus can get a decent return without the low ball gut killing cost offerings.

    Airlines have no way to move up in the Boeing line, one reason I watch AK Airlines so closely is what will they do with their entry A321-NEO they got a great deal on (by buying out Virgin US). Clearing airport delay backlogs has been tough and the A321 is a better option (and they have diverted 900s to do so in the past. )

    So, the 797 seems to be Boeing counter. Take the hit on the A321 market and make up for it on the 797. May work, but it would have been far better to have had a 737RS done two generations ago and still do the 797.

    Tech then morphs down to the A321 level, but maybe not the -8/9/10 level.

    How split can you make your offerings?

    Conundrum for Boeing, hard telling if they really have a plan for all of it.

    1. Dan Dair

      Tango,
      “hard telling if…Boeing….really have a plan for all of it”
      I’ve been amazed before & I’m sure I will be again,
      but I don’t expect Boeing to be the one that amazes me next by finding-out, to my incredulity, that really have a plan for all of it.?????
      I’m actually pretty convinced they’re just muddling-along at the moment.?

    2. comet

      Boeing won’t make the 797 any time soon because of the 787.

      The 787 turned into such a debacle that almost broke Boeing and will never make a profit, so now Boeing is scared of making new airframes.

      1. Dan Dair

        IMO it’s crystal-clear that Boeing needs to replace the current B737 airframe with new.
        I wouldn’t necessarily suggest that the fuselage could not be reused in the new airframe, but the wing attachment/wing box will need to be all new to accommodate the all-new and longer landing gear which is an essential for the new aircraft.
        The current wing was upgraded not long ago, so the ‘all-new’ B737, could actually be very much the ‘old’ 737, with some real changes which will make all the difference.

        As part of this upgrade, the ability to stretch the airframe out to match the A321 & get close to B757 seat numbers would also be a requirement.

        By doing such an upgrade, Boeing will be putting it’s aircraft back up to genuinely competitive with the A320. (possibly better, if the new parts are a significant improvement)
        It will also do battle with the A321, which as Tango mentions, currently has no competitors, so will be enhancing Airbus’s bottom-line quite nicely
        AND it will put Boeing back into the market-share it vacated when it canned B757 production.

        IF this was coupled with a B787-7, Boeing might have a product range which would pretty-well match Airbus stride-for stride in small & mid-sized airliners.
        AND reduce the requirement for a B797 or a MoM aircraft because the ‘all-new’ B737 had got back to covering that ground again.

        At the moment, Airbus’s overall product range is noticeably better that that of Boeing.
        IMO creating a B737 which can match the A320/21, will go a very long way to evening-up the product range between the two manufacturers.

      2. Tango

        Comet:

        We need to be clear aobut what the 787 did to
        Boeing. It cost them dearly, about on par with the A380 for Airbus (thoughy Boeing may make money some day on the 787)

        Boeing is currently buying shares back, to the tune of 2 billion a year or so.

        At a 10 years that’s 20 billion. A new Aircraft program costs about 10 to 12.

        So lets not try to convey that Boeing can’t afford it, they can.

        And in this case they will.

  2. Dan Dair

    Can anyone explain to me what (apart from investment) is standing in the way of loading & unloading SLF’s from both sides of an aircraft.?

    If you have a twin-aisle aircraft & can load & unload from both sides, your turnaround times are potentially massively reduced.
    This is useful for a large aircraft, but for a short-range aircraft, the prospect of getting turn-around times down to 30-45 minutes, might give the option of an extra sector per day.?

    There was a time when airbridges didn’t exist & then when they were the exception, not the norm’.
    Why (apart from the investment) can we not start to consider a wide-body, short-haul aircraft, perhaps to replace the A320 or B737 in the relatively near future.?
    The infrastructure would need to be in-place to support loading from both sides when such an aircraft came into service.
    Possibly as wide as an A330, possibly a little narrower & offering a 2-2-2, 2-3-2, 3-2-3 or 3-3-3 seating format.? Such an aircraft would be designed to be as similarly lightweight as an A320 & specifically tuned to a maximum of around 3-4 hours sectors, possibly less.?

    If it could be more efficient than current aircraft when flying & could be turned-around faster when on the ground, I’d have though it would be a real winner.?
    Of course, someone has to design, build & SELL it
    as well as bullying the airports into building new airbridges, this time on the starboard side of the gates.?

    1. Ben Sandilands

      Dan,
      I think you are onto something that is definitely hinted at in some Airbus and Boeing patents for designs of new medium capacity airframes. Some of the Airbus drawings for its generic jet of the future ‘shape’ have a mid frame door that looks as if it was intended for gantry access, and thus dual port entry at such a set of doors would be readily facilitated, and we can even envisage a more efficient internal design for terminal gates.

      However while Airbus and Boeing can make fabulous money out of upgraded ‘legacy’ single aisle designs, compared to all new designs, a certain ‘inertia’ at board level is likely to keep pushing such radical redesigns into the future. Until maybe, a new and really serious challenge emerges in a new player in Russia or China or India.

      1. Tango

        Frankly you don’t need dual loading to be more effective.

        You just direct the far side passengers across the front and to the 2nd aisle.

        That means you have cut in half the number of people working in an aisle.

        Dual side loading may work but not needed.

        Even one flight more a day pays for itself big time.

    2. Zarathrusta

      Dan,
      the main problems with this are the physics of crowds, and the extra drag fatter aircraft produce. It’s very hard to speed up flow of people especially in aisles that don’t allow overtaking.

      No airline I know of boards people in the optimal way which has been proven mathematically and then confirmed through simulation. First you load the window seats, but only half of them and on opposite sides of the cabin i.e. 1A,2F,3A,4F etc so that people are not colliding trying to load carry on. Then you load the remaining window seats, the the middle seats in a similar manner and finally the aisle seats again in two stages.

      But no airline does that because they want to charge people extra for being first to board and stuff like that. It’s also hard to do that if you have kids but in that case an exception could be made.

      A lot of the boarding problems are caused by airline staff not challenging passengers doing the wrong thing. Try boarding when they’ve let a passenger get in the wrong door and push their way the wrong up the aisle. I’ve been on the receiving end of that and it’s not at all pretty.

      The other one is the ridiculous size of carry on they allow some people to attempt. Just tell them NO. Take their bags at the door and shove them in the hold. You might have to do that a few times until they get the message but after that things will be easier.

      1. Zarathrusta

        P.S. the recently flown Irkut MC-21 features a centre aisle passengers can walk around the food trolleys on.

        https://youtu.be/INmHGaRsFPI
        https://youtu.be/qoJoRgWlC5Q

        My last flight on Virgin had people unable to go to the toilet because they had roped off business class and put a food trolley between passengers and now the only toilets.

      2. Dan Dair

        Zarathrusta,
        This is primarily why I’m talking about boarding from both sides.!

        I don’t see the point in talking about twin-aisle commuter aircraft if the single access door is a passenger bottleneck.?
        Loading a twin aisle aircraft from both sides would effectively mean seats A-D load conventionally & seats F-I load from the ‘wrong’ side.
        That way passengers load & unload at effectively twice the speed they would otherwise have done. Two access doors, two aisles, half the time.?

        Slow passengers in narrow aisles is the same problem for both systems of loading, so effectively becomes irrelevant to the argument.? (Although, with a shorter, wider aircraft, the length of the aisles is reduced for the same seating capacity, so potentially it might actually be less of a problem in a twin-aisle aircraft.?)

  3. Deano DD

    So if we are talking hypothetical air frames
    Why not a twin deck 3-3 configuration
    A full upped deck via airbridge 3-3
    Front 1/2 lower deck 3-3 seating via stairs and rear 1/2 cargo
    The floor of the upper deck (roof of lower deck) under tension to compensate the air pressure, the same as the A380
    Same width as a 737 / a320 but perhaps 1.5m taller to allow for standing room below

    180 seats turns easily into 270 all economy
    Quick turn around with 3 loading and unloading points for passengers

    1. Zarathrusta

      Interesting idea Deano. I’d love to see canards so they provide lift rather than the downwards force of a conventional tail.

      1. Deano DD

        Excellent point
        Down force converted to equal lift = more capacity one would think

        1. Dan Dair

          I’m sure that canards will have a place in the future, but I suspect that this will be a long time away.
          They’ve become normal on high-manoeuvrability military aircraft, but this is all about computer controlled avionics.
          I can’t imagine why civil airliner manufacturers would want to dispense with the tried & trusted vertical stabiliser, unless the weight savings were phenomenal & the avionics-controls were stunningly well-proven.?
          If the computers fail & you lose it big time in a Typhoon, it’s an expensive loss, but the pilot(s) can always ‘bang-out’.
          The same couldn’t be said of an all new & tail-less Boeing 797 (for example), unless they were to include parachutes alongside the life vests.? (& all passengers got the appropriate 2 weeks basic solo parachute training prior to embarkation.?)