MAX could arrive early, says Southwest; it will be late, says AerCap

This is one of the more odd items we’ve seen in a while.

Southwest Airlines, the launch customer for the 737 MAX, believes that entry-into-service could be earlier than the current target of 4Q2017. Boeing would like to shift EIS sharply to the left, as early as 2016, but this will depend entirely on the engine development of the CFM LEAP-1B.

But lessor AerCap told The Wall Street Journal the MAX may not arrive until 2019.

We find AerCap’s prediction to be incredibly pessimistic, even allowing for the history of the recent Boeing programs.

Nothing we’ve heard yet suggests AerCap might be correct. We believe it way too soon to draw any conclusions that the MAX will be early or late. AerCap has not ordered the airplane.

33 Comments on “MAX could arrive early, says Southwest; it will be late, says AerCap

  1. Well, where there is smoke, there is fire, they used to say!

    The 737MAX, launched last November with a large “order” from Southwest,
    followed a large order by an unknown Scandinavian charter Co., were NOT
    followed by an avelange of orders Airbus had, immediately after the NEO had
    been launched, in spite of Boeing having said, pretty much right after the
    above two orders, that they had “firm commitments” for 1,000+ NEO’s, ready
    to be signed up in the new year! We already lost two months of that year!
    I hope Soutwest is right, but why does Boeing not have anything to say im-
    mediately? AerCap and the WSJ, could NOT have picked 2019 out of a hat!

    • Independent of Boeing’s performance this is probably a lessor trying to manipulate the market. Do they have NG’s on order that they have to place still?

      Remember the lessors lamenting the NEO.

    • Rudy, have you forgotten Lion firmed up their order of 201 B-737-9MAX this month?

  2. the smoke might just be a curtain, hiding the truth.
    I guess both are equally valid. Boeing sees about 2 years worth of work in updating the 737 to the MAX, apparently it’s the engines that drive the schedule. I’ll bet one of the contingency plans at Boeing is to deliver the first few without the latest engines and replace those later on. Costs a but, but is great publicity (the first aviation project to finish ahead of schedule in decades!)
    AerCap simply applies general wisdom and assumes the MAX is no different than any other project and will come in behind schedule. 2 years seems to be the norm…

  3. The Boeing side of things (airframe etc.) should easily be achievable, but the doubt may well be about the engine.
    IMHO, the issue is going to be taking GENx technology and adapting it to the LEAP.
    GENx was designed from the outset for long haul (low cycle) operation.
    I suggest that substantial work will be required in turning the base engine into a high cycle product of sufficient reliability to satisfy customers

  4. The lesson of the 787 project is that unlike the planes themselves, manufacturers can get engines out on time, but they may not be on spec. Customers and manufacturers will almost certainly take a below par MAX plane rather than wait until CFM gets the engine to spec. OTOH Boeing would not have chosen a date later than they need to.

    Right now the stated date of 4Q2017 is the most likely.

  5. WN may have more information on the B-737MAX from Boeing and CFMI than a leasor that has yet to order it.

    • I dont think we can have faith at CFM’s PR and much less in Boeings PR.
      They are expected to sugarcoat the bad news so as not to loose potential customers.
      We saw Boeing doing it with the 787 ad I cant think of anyone (other than immature funboys of course) can seriously think that they wont be doing the exact same think with the MAX.
      Like with the 787 delays the truth will be coming out by the customers not the manufacturer.

      • Do you know something of trouble in the MAX program the rest of us don’t know about?

        Tell us about all the problems and broken promises of the MAX (or the NEO), please.

        Tell us how the NEO program is progressing without any problems? You do understand one of the NEO engines is to be built by CFMI, don’t you?

  6. 2017 and 2019 sounds like two years, but between Q4 2017 and Q1 2019 there is barely more than one year – so if anything unexpected happens during flight test, the 2019 EIS is not something out of every possibility, as well as an early 2017 EIS for the A320neo, of course…

    • I agree. One or both engine options for the NEO can be early, on time, or late, just as it could be for the MAX. At this point in time any possible schedule change is possible. It really depends more on CFMI and P&W more than the airframe OEMs.

      • Not necessarily – think of the onboard fire of the B787 – or the flutter of the B747-8 landing gear doors. These two issues meant setbacks of of few months…

  7. I would agree with you Scott, 2019 seems to be far too jaded a view. Of course, one has to consider the source as a guy with soon to be obsolete(ish) models in his inventory that he needs to place, and he doesn’t have any of the new plane on order. It’s a typical ploy to talk down the “competition” as it were. It’s surprising that LUV is talking about acceleration. Personally, I’ll just be happy to see it “ON TIME”. That would be a nice change for an industry that is habitually late over the last 20 years.

    Both the MAX and the NEO aren’t huge airframe challenges, the driver is going to be the engine guys and if they can get their act together.

    • “Personally, I’ll just be happy to see it “ON TIME”. That would be a nice change for an industry that is habitually late over the last 20 years.”

      LOL LOL LOL.

      As for the A320neo LEAP (LEAP-1A) being late, as we understand it the different core for the Boeing LEAP (1B) is a bit more challenging than the 1A because of the greater challenge to put the LEAP on the 737. If all you are looking at is the engine (as opposed to also airframe, where Boeing also has the greater challenge than Airbus), we believe the 4Q2017 EIS target (one year or so after neo LEAP EIS) ought to be enough for the MAX to be on time.

      But as you point out Howie, neither OEM has a track record to be proud of lately.

    • aeroturbopower :Not necessarily – think of the onboard fire of the B787 – or the flutter of the B747-8 landing gear doors. These two issues meant setbacks of of few months…

      Correct, but those incidents were the exception, not the rule. Those events are one reason why airplanes have to go through flight testing.

      • Today, flight testing is predominantly about spec proving for certification and not finding major glitches and fixing those.

        Building a significant number of frames in parallel to the flight testing regime is indicative here.

  8. Howard :
    So you think the LEAP powered A320NEO will be late too?

    Actually not. MAX and NEO will be LEAP powered and on time ( my current guess ).

    The GENX derivation was introduced to “muddy” the water and take some pressure from comparative viewing of these two installations. marketing. from people who think that the right words “strategic communications” will make anything gullible.

  9. Since they built the 777 in five years, six years to complete the MAX program seems reasonable.

    • The 777 was the last program in this industry that was completed on time. Certainly not on budget, but that’s another story.

  10. Isn’t AerCap a small leasing company (compared to GECAS, Babcock & Brown Aircraft Management and RBS Aviation Capital, and IFLC)? How many aircraft do they own, and how many of them are Boeings?

    • AerCap is now the third largest lessor in terms of numbers (but indeed pales to GECAS and ILFC).

      It owns and manages 350 aircraft (251 and 42 respectively). It owns 47 NGs and 9 Classics and manages 21 more Classics. It also owns a small number of several other 7-Series types and a small number of MD11s. It owns 154 A320 family and has a variety of small numbers of other Airbus types. It has 46 NGs on order and a small number of NEOs and other Airbuses on order.

  11. The first-ever “Wide-Body” aircraft, the Boeing 747, was built in 4.5, repeat
    four and one halve years, from full-scale production authorization in July of
    1966, to first delivery to PAA in December 1969 and first commercial flight in
    January 1970! What a proud achievement THAT was!
    Why should it also take 4+ years to re-engine the 737 into the 737NEO, which
    will only take us to 2016 maybe 2017, but why 2019?

    • Rudy Hillinga :
      The first-ever “Wide-Body” aircraft, the Boeing 747, was built in 4.5, repeat
      four and one halve years, from full-scale production authorization in July of
      1966, to first delivery to PAA in December 1969 and first commercial flight in
      January 1970! What a proud achievement THAT was!

      With all due respect, I think we’re talking apples and oranges. The Me 262, the very first production jet aircraft, went from initial design to operation in 60 months (April 1939 to April 1944). An amazing feat there, too, but not really relevant to the time required for the NEO and MAX.

      • Correct, in this case both OEMs are tied to the engine OEM schedule more than anything.

  12. KC135TopBoom :
    Do you know something of trouble in the MAX program the rest of us don’t know about?

    Public knowledge is that CFM had to significantly improve their offer for the NEO _after the initial offer and after timelines had been published_ in another step CFM has to further improve on core efficiency to compensate for reduced propulsive efficiency in the MAX installation. What ever we don’t know, we do know that this takes significant amounts of time
    and experience tells us that upping specs late in a programme takes even more time. See my cherished book “The mythical Man-Month” : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mythical_Man-Month 😉
    Still, compared to Trent1000/GenX the timelines look plush and the buffer from NEO to MAX doesn’t look undersized either though there are voices that point to required CMC materials being not really available before 2018/19.

    • Just how “late in a program” are we? The NEO program is just over a year old, and the MAX program is about 6 months old. CFMI, and P&W have been working on their respective engines for just a few years now. Airbus and Boeing each scheduled a 5 year developement for their respective programs because both OEMs know their programs are tied directly to the engines they selected.

      As I understand it, Airbus will freeze the design of the A-320NEO later this year and Boeing will freeze the design of the B-737MAX sometime next year.

      The LEAP-X family of engines is an outgrowth of the CFM-56-5B/-7B engines that may incorproate some GEnx-1B features. The LEAP engine was launched in 2008 and is expected to have its first version, the LEAP-1C certified this year for the C-919. The LEAP-1A engine is for the NEO and the LEAP-1B engine is for the MAX.

      Airbus also selected the PW1100G series of engines for the A-32X-NEOs. The GTF has been in developement since about 1999, and its first two versions (the PW8000 and PW6000) both failed to achieve the specs in SFC. It was relaunched in 2008, IIRC.

      “Public knowledge” is often wrong when it comes to design and developement of programs. We have to dig deeper than that, into more technical information to find out how the programs are progressing. “Public knowledge”is often like “public opinion”, they get their information from non-technical publications and news media.

      • “Public knowledge” here was a polite synonym for “known facts”. So we don’t really need to discuss that.

        For the NEO the CFM spec rewriting from the -1C towards the -1A was imho late enough to cause additional churn.
        The -1B version has the -1A steps as prerogative. i.e. delevopement steps are predominantly in series.
        Will the specific -1B features be backported to the -1A and -1C? ( obviously I would think.)

        Onwards:
        The PW6000 is not geared ( and acceptable after getting some majorly redesigned parts from MTU )

        I suppose somewhere embedded in that melee is the V2500.

        The PW8000 is a/the original? PW6000 core + geared fan:
        http://cornponepapers.blogspot.com/2006/04/short-life-and -untimely-demise-of.html
        Interesting read.

        • I politily disagree, my friend. Public knowledge is far from known facts. I could site hundreds of examples, but none of those have anything to do with the subject here.

          Time will tell just how related the LEAP-1A/-1B/-1C really are.

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