Boeing: Our 737 MAX product range will come to market as planned despite changes

By Bjorn Fehrm


Mike Delaney. Source: Boeing

July 13, 2016, ©. Leeham Co, Farnborough Air Show: Mike Delaney, Boeing’s Vice president and General manager for Aircraft development in the Commercial Airplane division, promises unchanged delivery times despite late changes to the company’s 737 MAX line-up.

Delaney went through the changes for the MAX program as part of a larger presentation, outlining the status for all ongoing aircraft developments within Boeing at the ongoing Farnborough Air Show.

Max 7 2016.05

The original 737 MAX 7 seen in the picture has just grown 12 seats. Source: Boeing

“We have decided to increase the size of our 737 MAX 7 aircraft by 12 seats,” Delaney said. “This is consistent with our strategy to offer more seats than our competitor’s models with the same trip costs. In this case, our MAX 7 will have 138 seats in a standard two class configuration compared to Airbus’ 126 seats for their A319neo model. With trip costs being equal, the MAX 7 is a better proposition. Despite the changes we will deliver the MAX 7 as planned in 2019.

This exact relationship repeats itself at the heart of the single aisle market. The 162 seat MAX 8 has the same trip costs as the 150 seat Airbus A320neo. Our 12 extra seats then gives the operator a lower per seat cost for the MAX 8,” explains Delaney.

737 MAX range in flux

The smallest MAX model is not the only one under review. The largest MAX model, the 737-9 only increases the seat count over the MAX 8 by 16 seats, whereas the A321neo increases the seat count by 30 seats over the A320neo. This has lead to the A321neo clearly outselling the MAX 9 in the market. Consequently, Boeing is studying a model (dubbed the -10 by media) which would carry the same seat count as the Airbus A321neo.

“It’s doable,” says Delany. “We would need the larger engines of the A321neo range. To have two engine sizes for the MAX range would be no large negative. The A320neo engine is optimized for the largest A320neo member, the 321. As we keep our LEAP-1B, which is optimized for the MAX 8, we would have a product range which would have our main seller and the largest variant both having optimized engines. This is not the fact in the A320neo range, the A320neo engines are optimized for the A321neo.”

“We haven’t decided if we would do a -10 variant yet in addition to the ones we have,” Delaney says. “This is a market size decision and we are still studying the subject. From a technical point, it is rather straight forward. We would need an articulating main landing gear to provide for the engine nacelle clearance, but that is nothing new. I come from Grumman and already the Grumman Bearcat (a WW2 carrier fighter) had an articulating main gear, becoming longer as it was extended.”

Other programs on track

Delaney said the first flight of the 787-10 will be in 2017 with first deliveries 2018.

“The 787-10 is on track. It will have unbeatable seat mile costs in the segment. The 777X program is also progressing well,” continues Delaney. “We have just inaugurated our 777X wing production facility with the world’s largest autoclaves. This facility will produce our fourth generation Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) wing with a lot of new automation techniques to bring the unit costs down.

We have passed final system definition of the aircraft and the first engine is running on the test stands at GE. In all, things look good for a 2018 first flight and 2020 delivery for the 777-9. We also know we can make an even larger 777-10 model should we want to. We are right now trying to understand if this something the market wants.”

New Middle of the Market Airplane, NMA

Delaney finally shared the study status for the market segment between a 737-9/A321neo and the Boeing 787-8 or Airbus A330-800.

“We are talking to the customers what they want in this segment.  Some want a straight replacement for a 757-200, others want an aircraft with more range and yet a third group want an aircraft more like our 767-300ER, an aircraft which can transport 230-250 passengers over distances of up to 5,000 to 6,000nm” he said. “We haven’t come to any conclusions yet. We will take our time before we are ready to engage in a project the size of an NMA. We see such an aircraft, should it be developed, as entering service in the middle of the next decade.”

18 Comments on “Boeing: Our 737 MAX product range will come to market as planned despite changes

  1. Hi Bjorn,

    Is Boeing to insert a frame extra to achieve a full two row stretch, or are they also working on cabin optimization to achieve this? I feels like Delaney is selling this as a last minute ditch to get to or beat the economics of the a319neo. But as no one is ordering the latter, is this not much more about the C300?

    Would you view the 777-10 a reaction to the Airbus communication of the a350-2000, a true 380 killer, or just a plane with a great business case?

    Best, bob

    • This is all about Boeing wanting to cut costs in the MAX development program.

      The 737-700 is a highly weight optimized and therefore structurally different than the 737-800. Since the 737-7 MAX has so few orders Boeing is now not MAXing the -700 model but instead offering a slightly smaller MAX 8 as the new MAX 7. In order words the MAX 7 and 8 will be next to identical apart from a few less frames in the 7 version.

      This also has the added benefit that Boeing doesn’t need to develop a separate Business version of the MAX, but can now use the new 7 MAX in business configuration. In the NG generation the business jet was a -700 fuselage with -800 wings and engines.

    • Hi Bob,

      as Meg has answered the -7 was a stand alone development for a small market which then needed changes to fit for the Business jet segment. Also the market is growing with something like 1.5 seats per year, the 737-700NG and now the MAX 7 was the same size since 1997. The 12 seat or two seat rows larger version is actually a cut MAX 8, thereby offering production rationalization and a better BBJ base. Further the customers for the MAX 7 was happy to take the cut MAX 8 version instead, give them more seats and longer range for the same price. They might lose something on the trip cost compared to the original MAX 7 but given the extra seats they accepted a changed deal.

      Re the 777-10, this is an A380 killer.

      • The A380-800 is a cut down model like the B747SP, 45 sales, B777-200LR, abt 70 from memory, A318, which sold 80 or so airframes, or B736-600, another seller of 70 or so airframes. I am stunned that it ever got 250 (credible) orders. A big tribute to Airbus engineers getting an aircraft so sub optimal sufficiently good to compete against optimised models like the 748i and the 777-300ER. I sometimes feel like engineering and miracles got mixed up here.

        I guess Airbus need a market to emerge for an A380-900, NEO or no NEO?

      • The 10X will be the ultimate 747 killer. Same pax amount and a waste of belly space to kill the freighter version.

        I don’t think the MAX 200 is an A321neo killer even though the A321 offers just 20 % more seats.

        The A380 offers about 50 % more seats than the 777 9X and about 40 % more than a 10X.

        Some costumers may switch from 9X to 10X.

        Seat mile costs? We should take about that again then the first 50 X with folding wing tips are in the air. Maybe Airbus offers then something Ultra.

  2. Boeing still in scramble mode to match aircraft design with customer demand. One could say, at least they try – others could argue, that this is quite late. Convincing strategy?

    Airbus should say: “Our LEAP-1A is so good even Boeing wants to fly it!” 😉

    • No, no, no!!!
      The LEAP-1A is only good for big aircraft like A321 or MAX10. The LEAP-1B is perfect for smaller aircraft like MAX 7, 8 and 9.

      Airbus useing the LEAP-1A for the smaller A320 makes no sense…

      That is what I understand.

      • Oscar Wilde said ‘sarcasm was the lowest form of wit’, amused me though…

      • Well you do now that the B at the end of LEAP is for Boeing?

        Airbus optimized on one engine, give up a bit here, get a bit more there.

        As its moving to more A321 all the time it makes sense. Common engines.

        Now how much improvement Airbus would get if the did use the B would be interesting.

        • Doesnt make sense, as the B has a smaller fan size to suit the 737 short legs. As well the thrust ratings are tailored for the lower empty weight of the 737 when compared to same sized 320.

          • It is a match of thrust, pressure ratio, bypass ratio, mass and installed drag. The A320 needs around 25k thrust. The 33k A321 engine should ideally have fewer booster stages and an additional HPC stage for the A320. The effect is increased bypass ratio and pressure ratio is kept up by the additional HPC stage. Reducing engine mass is good for the wing, pylon and wing box. A smaller engine nacelle can aerodynamically be installed closer to the fuselage reducing load on the wing and wing box even more giving possible mass saving at lots of locations. Just switching to the LEAP1-B just gives a few benefits of reduced mass and maybe reduced installed drag. GE/SNECMA might want to develop an optimized LEAP-1AB for both with the -1A fan, fewer booster stages, more HPC stages and all the CMC for the GE9X in it delivering 28K. But all the new high tech parts must have piece part inspections and repairs in the manuals to make them cost effective. Just try to repair a service run CMC HPT Nozzle Guide Vane…

  3. On a more serious note does this open the option of GTF for the MAX as the received wisdom appears to suggest that the GTF has a better longer term future. Or are GE and Boeing attached at the hip?

    • I think Boeing gave GE the sole engine on the MAX.

      Current term the LEAP and GTF are roughly even, long term no.

      Long term may not matter.

      I would like to see the P&W on the MAX-10 myself but don’t think we will.

  4. “Consequently, Boeing is studying a model (dubbed the -10 by media) which would carry the same seat count as the Airbus A321neo. “It’s doable,” says Delany. “We would need the larger engines of the A321neo range. To have two engine sizes for the MAX range would be no large negative.”

    I don’t think it’s doable.

    “We are talking to the customers what they want in this segment. Some want a straight replacement for a 757-200, others want an aircraft with more range and yet a third group want an aircraft more like our 767-300ER, an aircraft which can transport 230-250 passengers over distances of up to 5,000 to 6,000nm” he said.

    I think the sweet spot there is the 757-300 with a stretch, to firmly differentiate themselves between the 737 MAX and 787 and split the difference in the market. They should be looking at learning from the experience of the 757, with new wings and engines of course. That’s my take.

    • A 737-10 is doable. Read the guys words. The architecture is spelt out in simple terms, the existing larger LEAP engine, an extendible undercarriage leg. It spells doable. All they need is some good orders and it goes from doable to done.

      • Doable inball but one way, the economically viable way.

        • As I keep saying, l just don’t believe it. It doesn’t really make sense. Boeing must be up to something.

  5. I could see the 737-10 being two aircraft. One for Southwest that seated close to 200, a row longer than the -9 or 140′ long or so. Capable of Midway runways.

    Second aircraft 737-11 with 200 mixed class for United, longer than the A321 or about 150′. Still somewhat degraded runway performance, but better capacity than the A321.

    8 doors or some sort for L2 boarding?

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