This has some additional information from our e-newsletter of Sept. 8. Additionally, Airbus has offered some observations about the 737 MAX 200 (as Boeing often does about Airbus products). We’ve initially confined this critique to our e-newsletter; this will be posted on this website next Monday.
Boeing Sept. 8 announced its launch customer for the 737 MAX 200, the 200-seat version of the 737-8: Ireland’s Ultra Low Cost Carrier, Ryanair.
Boeing announced the program at the Farnborough Air Show and it was only a matter of time before Ryanair, which had yet to order the 737-8, became a customer. The carrier’s CEO, Michael O’Leary, had been agitating for a 199-seat version of the 737-800/8 for more than a year. (At 200 seats, another flight attendant is required.)
The 737 MAX 200 is Boeing’s response to Airbus’ move to reconfigure the A320neo to seat 189 passengers, matching the standard layout of the 737-8. The A320neo-189 is at 28 inch seat pitch, and so is the MAX 200.
When Boeing first launched the MAX in 2011, and for two years thereafter, Boeing denied that it was considering a high density version of the airplane. Only after Airbus proceeded with the A320neo-189 did Boeing move forward. Boeing flatly denied the prospect of adding an exit door—and now it has done exactly this.
Airbus also announced a 240 seat version of the A321neo, which begs the question whether Boeing will launch a high density version of the 737-9. Boeing already has field performance issues with the 737-9; the CFM LEAP engine powering the 737-9 only has an additional 1,000 lbs thrust, so adding another 20 passengers or so would further degrade the field performance.
Boeing says the MAX 200 will have 20% lower fuel costs per seat than today’s “most efficient” aircraft.
While Airbus was first to launch high density versions of the A320/321neo, as far as we know, no customer has announced orders for these aircraft. But, neither did Airbus have a large customer such as Ryanair agitating for the airplane, either.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner said that 35% of the global market demand for single aisle airplanes will eventually come from Low Cost Carriers, for which the MAX 200 is designed.
O’Leary said the MAX 200 is “exactly what we have been pushing for for the last 10 years.” He called the 200-seat size is the “sweet spot” for the LCC market. Ryanair will operate the airplane with 197-seats.
The trend toward 28-inch high density offerings continues. Bombardier and Embraer each offer shoe-horn configurations for the CSeries CS300 and E-Jet E-195 E2 at 160- and 144-seats respectively. Such is the trend to make flights as miserable as possible for passengers, which we believe fuels air rage.
O’Leary said that taking out the galleys will have more legroom, clarifying that it will be 30-31 in pitch. O’Leary said the additional eight seats means $1m in revenue per airplane before fees.
“We’re removing forward and rear galleys, which we don’t need on our routes, and moving the toilets to the galley areas to provide more legroom,” O’Leary said.
O’Leary also said that CFM LEAP 1-B engines powering the 737 MAX will lower emissions and noise profiles significantly compared with today’s airplanes.
He said the MAX 200 will enable Ryanair to offer fares lower than that of today.
Deliveries will be 2019-2023. Options take it to 2029.
“We’re finally getting the aircraft we’ve want,” O’Leary said. He said that Ryanair hasn’t typically taken up all options, so it’s unlikely all 100 options will be taken up.
The airplane has a range of 3,200nm.