Boeing 737 MAX

Summary

Boeing 737 MAX
Boeing 737-8 MAX N8704Q at Farnborough Airshow 2016
The 737 MAX is a fourth-generation Boeing 737, re-engined with CFM LEAP-1B turbofans.
Role Narrow-body jet airliner
National origin United States
Manufacturer Boeing Commercial Airplanes
First flight January 29, 2016[1]
Introduction May 22, 2017 with Malindo Air[2]
Status In service
Primary users Southwest Airlines
American Airlines
Air Canada
China Southern Airlines
Produced 2014[3]–present[a]
Number built 581 delivered as of September 2021[5]
Developed from Boeing 737 Next Generation

The Boeing 737 MAX is the fourth generation of the Boeing 737, a narrow-body airliner manufactured by Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA). It succeeds the Boeing 737 Next Generation (NG) and competes with the Airbus A320neo family. The 737 MAX is based on earlier 737 designs, with more efficient CFM International LEAP-1B engines, aerodynamic changes, including its distinctive split-tip winglets, and airframe modifications. The new series was announced on August 30, 2011. It took its maiden flight on January 29, 2016 and was certified by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in March 2017. The first delivery was a MAX 8 in May 2017 to Malindo Air, with whom it commenced service on May 22, 2017.

The 737 MAX series has been offered in four variants, offering 138 to 204 seats in typical two-class configuration[6] and a 3,215 to 3,825 nmi (5,954 to 7,084 km) range. The 737 MAX 7, MAX 8 (including the denser, 200–seat MAX 200), and MAX 9 are intended to replace the 737-700, -800, and -900 respectively, and a further-stretched 737 MAX 10 is available. As of November 2020, the Boeing 737 MAX had a backlog of 3,290 units.[7]

The 737 MAX suffered a recurring failure in the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) causing two fatal accidents, Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, in which 346 people died.[8] It was subsequently grounded worldwide from March 2019 to November 2020. Investigations faulted a cover-up of a known defect by Boeing, and lapses in the certification by the FAA.[9][10] After being charged with fraud, Boeing settled to pay over $2.5 billion. On November 18, 2020, the FAA cleared the MAX to resume service, subject to a list of mandated design and training changes. Transport Canada and EASA both cleared the MAX in late January 2021, subject to additional requirements. In China, where the MAX was first grounded, the MAX has yet to resume service.[11] Boeing produced over 450 MAX aircraft awaiting delivery by January 2020, about half of which are expected to be delivered in 2021, and the majority of the remainder in 2022.

Development

Background

In 2006, Boeing started considering the replacement of the 737 with a "clean-sheet" design that could follow the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.[12] In June 2010, a decision on this replacement was postponed into 2011.[13]

On December 1, 2010, Boeing's competitor, Airbus, launched the Airbus A320neo family to improve fuel burn and operating efficiency with new engines: the CFM International LEAP and the Pratt & Whitney PW1000G.[14] In February 2011, Boeing's CEO Jim McNerney maintained "We're going to do a new airplane."[15] In March 2011, BCA President James Albaugh told participants of a trade meeting the company was not sure about a 737 re-engine, like Boeing CFO James A. Bell stated at an investor conference the same month.[16] The Airbus A320neo gathered 667 commitments at the June, 2011 Paris Air Show for a backlog of 1,029 units since its launch, setting an order record for a new commercial airliner.[17]

On July 20, 2011, American Airlines announced an order for 460 narrowbody jets including 130 A320ceos (Current Engine Option), 130 A320neos, 100 737NG and intended to order 100 re-engined 737s with CFM LEAPs, pending Boeing confirmation.[18] The order broke Boeing's monopoly with the airline and forced Boeing into a re-engined 737.[19] As this sale included a Most-Favoured-Customer Clause, Airbus has to refund any difference to American if it sells to another airline at a lower price, so the European manufacturer was unable to offer it at a price which United Airlines deems "competitive" leaving it with a Boeing-skewed fleet.[20]

Program launch

The 737 MAX 9 mockup at the 2012 ILA Berlin

On August 30, 2011, Boeing's board of directors approved the launch of the re-engined 737, expecting a 4% lower fuel burn than the Airbus A320neo.[21] Studies for additional drag reduction were performed during 2011, including revised tail cone, natural laminar flow nacelle, and hybrid laminar flow vertical stabilizer.[22] Boeing abandoned the development of a new design.[23] Boeing expected the 737 MAX to meet or exceed the range of the Airbus A320neo.[24] Firm configuration for the 737 MAX was scheduled for 2013.[25]

In March 2010, the estimated cost to re-engine the 737, according to Mike Bair, Boeing Commercial Airplanes' vice president of business strategy and marketing, would be US$2–3 billion, including the CFM engine development. During Boeing's Q2 2011 earnings call, former CFO James Bell said the development cost for the airframe only would be 10–15% of the cost of a new program estimated at US$10–12 billion at the time. Bernstein Research predicted in January 2012, that this cost would be twice that of the A320neo.[26] The MAX development cost could have been well over the internal target of US$2 bn, and closer to US$4 bn.[27] Fuel consumption is reduced by 14% from the 737NG.[28] Southwest Airlines was signed up as the launch customer in 2011.[29]

In November 2014, McNerney said the 737 would be replaced by a new airplane by 2030—probably using composite materials—that would be slightly bigger and have new engines, but would retain the 737's general configuration.[30]

Production

Roll-out of the first Boeing 737 MAX in December 2015

On August 13, 2015, the first 737 MAX fuselage completed assembly at Spirit Aerosystems in Wichita, Kansas, for a test aircraft that would eventually be delivered to launch customer Southwest Airlines.[31] On December 8, 2015, the first 737 MAX—a MAX 8 named Spirit of Renton—was rolled out at the Boeing Renton Factory.[32][33][34]

Because GKN could not produce the titanium honeycomb inner walls for the thrust reversers quickly enough, Boeing switched to a composite part produced by Spirit to deliver 47 MAXs per month in 2017. Spirit supplies 69% of the 737 airframe, including the fuselage, thrust reverser, engine pylons, nacelles, and wing leading edges.[35]

A new spar-assembly line with robotic drilling machines should increase throughput by 33%. The Electroimpact automated panel assembly line sped up the wing lower-skin assembly by 35%.[36] Boeing planned to increase its 737 MAX monthly production rate from 42 planes in 2017, to 57 planes by 2019.[37] The new spar-assembly line is designed by Electroimpact.[38] Electroimpact has also installed fully automated riveting machines and tooling to fasten stringers to the wing skin.[39]

The rate increase strained the production and by August 2018, over 40 unfinished jets were parked in Renton, awaiting parts or engine installation, as CFM engines and Spirit fuselages were delivered late.[40] After parked airplanes peaked at 53 at the beginning of September, Boeing reduced this by nine the following month, as deliveries rose to 61 from 29 in July and 48 in August.[41]

On September 23, 2015, Boeing announced a collaboration with Comac to build a completion and delivery facility for the 737,[42] in Zhoushan, China,[43] the first outside the United States.[44] This facility initially handles interior finishing only, but will subsequently be expanded to include paintwork. The first aircraft was delivered from the facility to Air China on December 15, 2018.[45]

The largest part of the suppliers cost are the aerostructures with US$10–12M (35-34% of the US$ 28.5-35 M total), followed by the engines with US$7–9M (25-26%), systems and interiors with US$5–6M each (18-17%), then avionics with US$1.5–2M (5-6%).[46]

Flight testing and certification

The first flight took place on January 29, 2016, at Renton Municipal Airport,[47] nearly 49 years after the maiden flight of the original 737-100, on April 9, 1967.[1] The first MAX 8, 1A001, was used for aerodynamic trials: flutter testing, stability and control, and takeoff performance-data verification, before it was modified for an operator and delivered. 1A002 was used for performance and engine testing: climb and landing performance, crosswind, noise, cold weather, high altitude, fuel burn and water-ingestion. Aircraft systems including autoland were tested with 1A003. 1A004, with an airliner layout, flew function-and-reliability certification for 300h with a light flight-test instrumentation.[48]

The 737 MAX gained Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification on March 8, 2017.[49][50] It was approved by EASA on March 27, 2017.[51] After completing 2,000 test flight hours and 180-minute ETOPS testing requiring 3,000 simulated flight cycles in April 2017, CFM International notified Boeing of a possible manufacturing quality issue with low pressure turbine (LPT) discs in LEAP-1B engines.[52] Boeing suspended 737 MAX flights on May 4,[53] and resumed flights on May 12.[54]

During the certification process, the FAA delegated many evaluations to Boeing, allowing the manufacturer to review their own product.[47][55] It was widely reported that Boeing pushed to expedite approval of the 737 MAX to compete with the Airbus A320neo, which hit the market nine months ahead of Boeing's model.[56]

Introduction

The Boeing 737 MAX 8 entered service with Lion Air's subsidiary Malindo Air (wearing Batik Air Malaysia livery)

The first delivery was a MAX 8, handed over to Malindo Air (a subsidiary of Lion Air) on May 16, 2017; it entered service on May 22.[2] Norwegian Air International was the second airline to put a 737 MAX into service, when it performed its first transatlantic flight with a MAX 8 named Sir Freddie Laker on July 15, 2017, between Edinburgh Airport in Scotland and Bradley International Airport in the U.S. state of Connecticut.[57]

Boeing aimed to match the 99.7% dispatch reliability of the 737 Next Generation (NG).[58] Southwest Airlines, the launch customer, took delivery of its first 737 MAX on August 29, 2017.[59] Boeing planned to deliver at least 50 to 75 aircraft in 2017, 10–15% of the more than five hundred 737s to be delivered in the year.[53]

After one year of service, 130 MAXs had been delivered to 28 customers, logging over 41,000 flights in 118,000 hours and flying over 6.5 million passengers. flydubai observed 15% more efficiency than the NG, more than the 14% promised, and dependability reached 99.4%. Long routes include 24 over 2,500 nmi (4,630 km), including a daily Aerolineas Argentinas service from Buenos Aires to Punta Cana over 3,252 nmi (6,023 km).[60]

In 2019, Moody's had estimated Boeing's operating margin to be US$12–15 million for each 737 Max 8 at its list price of $121.6 million, although the list price is usually discounted 50-55% in practice. This high margin was made possible by the efficiencies of production volume and the amortization of development costs and capital investment over the decades of the program run. However, costs have since risen significantly and the margin reduced following the second crash, the FAA grounding, and the severe disruption to production.[61][62] Boeing estimated it would cost an additional $6.3 billion to produce the remaining 737 MAX program, $4 billion for "future abnormal costs" as production restarted, plus an estimated $8.3 billion for concessions and compensation to customers.[63][64][65] The rising costs also led Moody's to downgrade Boeing's credit rating.[66]

Grounding and recertification

In 2019, the Boeing 737 MAX was grounded worldwide, after a malfunctioning flight control system caused two new aircraft to crash in Indonesia and Ethiopia, killing all 346 people on board. In the twenty months during the grounding, Boeing redesigned the computer architecture that supported the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), while investigations faulted aircraft design and certification lapses. Boeing faces legal and financial consequences, as no deliveries of the MAX could be made while the aircraft was grounded, and airlines canceled more orders than Boeing produced during this period; a portion of those aircraft have lost their original buyers. Boeing found foreign object debris in the fuel tanks of 35 of 50 grounded 737 MAX aircraft that were inspected, and is to check the remainder of the 400 undelivered planes.[67] Boeing had similar issues with 787s produced in South Carolina.[68] The FAA curtailed Boeing's delegated authority, and invited global aviation stakeholders to comment on pending changes to the aircraft and to pilot training. The FAA grounding order was lifted in 2020;[69] all aircraft must be repaired to comply with various airworthiness directives.[70]

After being charged with fraud in connection of both crashes of the 737 MAX, Boeing settled to pay over $2.5 billion: a criminal monetary penalty of $243.6 million (10%), $1.77 billion of damages to airline customers (70%), and a $500 million crash-victim beneficiaries fund (20%).[71][72]

Production slowdown and suspension

From mid-April 2019, the company announced that it was temporarily cutting production of the 737 aircraft from 52 per month to 42 amid the 737 MAX groundings.[73]

Production of the LEAP-1B engine continued at an unchanged rate, enabling CFM to catch up its backlog within a few weeks.[74]

As the 737 MAX re-certification moved into 2020, Boeing suspended production from January to conserve cash and prioritize stored aircraft delivery.[75][76] The 737 MAX program was Boeing's largest source of profit.[77] Around 80% of the 737 production costs involve payments to parts suppliers, which may be as low as US$10 million per plane.[78]

After the announcement, Moody's cut Boeing's debt ratings in December 2019, citing the rising costs due to the grounding and the production halt including financial support to suppliers and compensation to airlines and lessors which could lower the program's margins and cash generation for years.[66] Moody's also warned that the production halt would have wide and harmful impact to the whole aerospace and defense supply chain and, if and when production resumes, the ramp-up would be slower than previously anticipated, as suppliers have to make adjustments to cost structures built for planned record output on the 737 program.[79]

CFM International reduced production of the LEAP-1B for the 737 MAX, in favor of the LEAP-1A for the Airbus A320neo, but is prepared to meet demand for both aircraft.[80]

Boeing did not publicly say how long the suspension would last. The last pre-suspension fuselages entered final assembly in early January 2020. Boeing was reported to internally expect production to be halted for at least 60 days.[81] Industry observers began to question if Boeing's projection of record production rate of 57 per month would ever be reached.[82] In early January 2020, an issue was discovered in the software update, further delaying the return to service.[83]

In late January, production was expected to restart in April and take a year and a half to clear the inventory of 400 airplanes, ramping up slowly and building over time: Boeing might have delivered 180 stored jets by year-end and produce an equal number.[84] Boeing did not disclose any possible effect on deliveries caused by the FAA's withdrawal of Boeing's delegated authority to certify the airworthiness of each aircraft.[85] MAX supplier Spirit AeroSystems said it does not expect to return production rate to 52 per month until late 2022.[86] By early April, the COVID-19 pandemic led Boeing to shut down its other airliner production lines[87] and further delayed recertification of the MAX.[88] By late April 2020, Boeing signaled that it hoped to win regulatory approval by August 2020.[89] On May 27, 2020, Boeing resumed 737 MAX production at a low production rate, with the rate planned to increase towards 31 per month in 2021.[4]

Recertification and delivery plan

Between June 29 and July 1, 2020, the FAA and Boeing conducted a series of recertification test flights.[90] Transport Canada and EASA each concluded their own independent recertification flights in late August and early September 2020.[91]

On August 19, 2020, Boeing announced that it had received new orders for the 737 MAX for the first time in 2020. Per a statement from the company, Poland's Enter Air SA entered into an agreement to buy up to four 737s. The Guardian reported that Boeing referred to the airplane as a Boeing 737-8 in a move away from the Boeing 737 MAX branding.[92]

On October 28, 2020, Boeing indicated that it expected to deliver about half of the 450 stockpiled aircraft in 2021, and the majority of the remainder in 2022, noting that some of these aircraft will need to be re-marketed and potentially reconfigured. The delivery rate will also condition the production rate for new aircraft, to avoid compounding the problem.[93]

On November 18, 2020, the FAA announced that the MAX had been cleared to return to service. Before the aircraft can resume service, repairs must be implemented per a forthcoming airworthiness directive from the FAA. Airline training programs will also require approval. Boeing saw more than 1,000 order cancelations since the grounding in March 2019.[94] Some of these already-built aircraft have seen their order canceled and Boeing is working to find new customers to take delivery.[95]

On December 3, 2020, American Airlines made a demonstration flight for journalists to explain the FAA-required modifications, to regain public trust.[96] The first airline to resume regular passenger service was Brazilian low-cost Gol, on December 9, 2020.[97] The first in the United States was American Airlines on December 29.[98]

Transport Canada and EASA both cleared the MAX in late January 2021, subject to additional requirements.[99][100] Several more regulators worldwide have ungrounded the aircraft since then, including those in the UAE, Australia, Kenya, and Brazil.[101]

Replacement airliner

In November 2014, Boeing talked about developing a clean sheet aircraft to replace the 737. The conceived aircraft was to have a slightly larger but similar fuselage to 737 and would make use of the advanced composite technology developed for the 787 Dreamliner.[102] Boeing also considered a parallel development along with the 757 replacement, similar to the development of the 757 and 767 in the 1970s.[103]

Design

In mid-2011, one design objective was matching fuel burn of the 737 MAX to that of the Airbus A320neo's 15% fuel-burn advantage. The initial 737 Max reduction was 10–12%; it was later enhanced to 14.5%. The fan was widened from 61 in (150 cm) to 69.4 in (176 cm) by raising the nose gear and placing the engine higher and forward. The split tip winglet added 1–1.5% fuel burn reduction and a re-lofted tail cone another 1%. Electronically controlling the bleed air system improved efficiency. The new engine nacelle included chevrons, similar to those of the Boeing 787, which also helped to reduce engine noise.[104]

Aerodynamic changes

Boeing's new "split tip" winglet on the 737 MAX

The split tip wingtip device is designed to maximize lift while staying in the same ICAO Aerodrome reference code letter C gates as current Boeing 737s. It traces its design to the McDonnell Douglas MD-12 1990s twin-deck concept, proposed for similar gate restrictions before the Boeing merger.[105] A MAX 8 with 162 passengers on a 3,000 nmi (5,600 km) flight is projected to have a 1.8% better fuel burn than a blended-winglet-equipped aircraft and 1% over 500 nmi (930 km) at Mach 0.79.[105] The new winglet is 9 ft 6 in (2.90 m) in total height.[106]

Aviation Partners offers a similar "Split-Tip Scimitar" winglet for previous 737NGs.[107] It resembles a three-way hybrid between a blended winglet, wingtip fence, and raked wingtip.

Other improvements include a re-contoured tail cone, revised auxiliary power unit inlet and exhaust, aft-body vortex generators removal, and other small aerodynamic improvements.[28]

Structural and other changes

The 8 in (20 cm) taller nose-gear strut maintains the same 17-inch (43 cm) ground clearance of previous 737 engine nacelles.[28] New struts and nacelles for the heavier engines add bulk, the main landing gear and supporting structure have been reinforced, and fuselage skins are thicker in some places—thus adding 6,500 lb (2,900 kg) to the MAX 8's empty aircraft weight.[28] To preserve fuel and payload capacity, its maximum takeoff weight is 7,000 lb (3,200 kg) heavier.[28]

Rockwell Collins was selected to supply four 15.1-inch (380 mm) landscape liquid crystal displays (LCD), as used on the 787, to improve pilots' situation awareness and efficiency.[108] Boeing plans no major modifications for the 737 MAX flight deck, as it wants to maintain commonality with the 737 Next Generation family. Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh said in 2011, that adding more fly-by-wire control systems would be "very minimal".[109] However, the 737 MAX extended spoilers are fly-by-wire controlled.[106] Most of the systems are carried from the 737NG to allow for a short differences-training course to upgrade flight crews.[28]

In addition to the Speed Trim System (STS), the automatic stabilizer control system has been enhanced to include MCAS. Compared to STS, MCAS has greater authority and cannot be disengaged with the aft and forward column cutout switches. The center console stabilizer-trim cutout switches have been re-wired. Unlike previous versions of the 737, the automatic stabilizer trim control functions cannot be turned off while retaining electric trim switches functionality.[110]

The MCAS system was deemed necessary by Boeing to meet its internal objective of minimizing training requirements for pilots already qualified on the 737NG. MCAS was to automatically mitigate the pitch-up tendency of the new flight geometry due to the engines being located further forward and higher than on previous 737 models.[111] During a reassessment of the aircraft in February 2020, both FAA and EASA determined that the stability and stall characteristics of the plane would have been acceptable with or without MCAS.[112]

As a production standard, the 737 MAX features the Boeing Sky Interior with overhead bins and LED lighting based on the Boeing 787's interior.[113]

Engines

LEAP mockup
Nacelle with chevrons for noise reduction

In 2011, the Leap-1B was initially 10–12% more efficient than the previous 156 cm (61 in) CFM56-7B of the 737NG.[114] The 18-blade, woven carbon-fiber fan enables a 9:1 bypass ratio (up from 5.1:1 with the previous 24-blade titanium fan) for a 40% smaller noise footprint.[28] The CFM56 bypass ranges from 5.1:1 to 5.5:1.[115] The two-spool design has a low-pressure section comprising the fan and three booster stages driven by five axial turbine stages and a high-pressure section with a 10-stage axial compressor driven by a two-stage turbine.[28] The 41:1 overall pressure ratio increased from 28:1, and advanced hot-section materials enabling higher operating temperatures permit a 15% reduction in thrust-specific fuel consumption (TSFC), along with 20% lower carbon emissions, 50% lower nitrogen-oxide emissions, though each engine weighs 849 lb (385 kg) more at 6,129 lb (2,780 kg).[28]

In August 2011, Boeing had to choose between 66 in (168 cm) or 68 in (173 cm) fan diameters necessitating landing gear changes to maintain a 17-inch (43 cm) ground clearance beneath the new engines; Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive officer Jim Albaugh stated "with a bigger fan you get more efficiency because of the bypass ratio [but also] more weight and more drag", with more airframe changes.[116]

In November 2011, Boeing selected the larger fan diameter, necessitating a 6–8 in (150–200 mm) longer nose landing gear.[117][118] In May 2012, Boeing further enlarged the fan to 69.4 in (176 cm), paired with a smaller engine core within minor design changes before the mid-2013 final configuration.[119][120]

The nacelle features chevrons for noise reduction like the 787.[121] A new bleed air digital regulator will improve its reliability.[122] The new nacelles being larger and more forward possess aerodynamic properties which act to further increase the pitch rate. The larger engine is cantilevered ahead of and slightly above the wing, and the laminar flow engine nacelle lipskin is a GKN Aerospace one-piece, spun-formed aluminum sheet inspired by the 787.[106]

Variants

The 737-700, -800 and -900ER, the most widespread versions of the previous 737NG,[123] are succeeded by the 737 MAX 7, MAX 8 and MAX 9, respectively[124] (FAA type certificate: 737-7, -8, and -9[49]). The 737 MAX 8 entered service in May 2017,[2] and the MAX 9 entered service in March 2018.[125] Deliveries for MAX 7 and MAX 200 (a higher-density version of the MAX 8) were expected to begin in 2021, and the MAX 10 in 2023.[126]

In February 2018, Boeing forecast that 60–65% of demand for the airliner would be for the 737 MAX 8 variant, 20–25% for the MAX 9 and MAX 10, and 10% for the MAX 7.[127]

737 MAX 7

The 737 MAX 7 at the 2018 Farnborough Airshow

Originally based on the 737-700, Boeing announced the redesign of the MAX 7, derived from the MAX 8, at the July 2016 Farnborough Air Show, accommodating two more seat rows than the 737-700 for 138 seats, up by 12 seats.[128][129] The redesign uses the 737-8 wing and landing gear; a pair of over-wing exits rather than the single-door configuration; a 46-inch longer aft fuselage and a 30-inch longer forward fuselage; structural re-gauging and strengthening; and systems and interior modifications to accommodate the longer length.[130] It is to fly 1,000 nmi (1,900 km) farther than the -700 with 18% lower fuel costs per seat. Boeing predicts the MAX 7 to carry 12 more passengers 400 nmi (740 km) farther than A319neo with 7% lower operating costs per seat.[131] In 2016, Boeing planned to improve its range from 3,850 nmi (4,430 mi; 7,130 km) to 3,915 nmi (4,505 mi; 7,251 km) after 2021.[132]

Production on the first 65-foot-long (20 m) wing spar for the 737-7 began in October 2017.[133] Assembly of the first flight-test aircraft began on November 22, 2017[134] and was rolled out of the factory on February 5, 2018.[135] The MAX 7 took off for its first flight on March 16, 2018, from the factory in Renton, Washington, and flew for three hours over Washington state.[136] It reached 250 kn (460 km/h) and 25,000 ft (7,600 m), performed a low approach, systems checks and an inflight engine restart, and landed at Boeing's flight test center in Moses Lake, Washington.[137]

Entry into service with launch operator Southwest Airlines was expected in January 2019,[133] but deliveries are planned to start in 2022.[138] WestJet also converted its order for MAX 7s, originally due for delivery in 2019, into MAX 8s and is not expected to take any MAX 7s until at least 2021.[139] However, Southwest placed an order for 100 MAX 7s on March 29, 2021,[140] and exercised options for 34 on June 8, 2021[141] bringing their total orders to 234. Customers for the aircraft include Southwest Airlines (234) and WestJet (22). As of August 2021, the MAX 7 has 256 orders of over 3,325 order backlog for the 737.[citation needed][131] The MAX 7 has been proven to be unpopular with airlines due to it being less efficient than the larger MAX variants with the only major exception being Southwest. As of August 2021, Boeing believes that the MAX 7 will be certified in time for deliveries to begin in 2022.[142]

737 MAX 8

A top view of the 737 MAX 8 showing double overwing exits

The first variant developed in the 737 MAX series, the MAX 8 replaces the 737-800 with a longer fuselage than the MAX 7. In 2016, Boeing planned to improve its range from 3,515 nmi (4,045 mi; 6,510 km) to 3,610 nmi (4,150 mi; 6,690 km) after 2021.[132] On July 23, 2013, Boeing completed the firm configuration for the 737 MAX 8.[143] The MAX 8 has a lower empty weight and higher maximum takeoff weight than the A320neo. During a test flight conducted for Aviation Week, while cruising at a true airspeed of 449 kn (832 km/h) and a weight of 140,500 lb (63,700 kg), at a lower than optimal altitude (FL350 vs. the preferred FL390) and with an "unusually far forward" center of gravity, the test aircraft consumed 4,460 lb (2,020 kg) of fuel per hour.[28]

The Boeing 737 MAX 8 completed its first flight test in La Paz, Bolivia. The 13,300-foot altitude at El Alto International Airport tested the MAX's capability to take off and land at high altitudes.[144] Its first commercial flight was operated by Malindo Air on May 22, 2017, between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore as Flight OD803.[2] In early 2017, a new -8 was valued at $52.85 million, rising to below $54.5 million by mid 2018.[145]

737 MAX 200

In September 2014, Boeing launched a high-density version of the 737 MAX 8, the 737 MAX 200, named for seating for up to 200 passengers in a single-class high-density configuration with slimline seats; an extra pair of exit doors is required because of the higher passenger capacity. Boeing states that this version would be 20% more cost-efficient per seat than current 737 models, and would be the most efficient narrow-body on the market when delivered, including 5% lower operating costs than the 737 MAX 8.[146][147] Three of eight galley trolleys are removed to accommodate more passenger space.[148] An order with Ryanair for 100 aircraft was finalized in December 2014.[149] The variant is designated 737-8200.[150]

In mid-November 2018, the first of the 135 ordered by Ryanair rolled out, in a 197-seat configuration.[151] It was first flown from Renton on January 13, 2019,[152] and was due to enter service in April 2019, with another four MAX 200s expected later in 2019,[153] though these deliveries were deferred while the MAX was grounded; Ryanair has stated that it intends to place more orders once flights resume.[154] In November 2019, Ryanair informed its pilots that, due to an unspecified design issue with the additional over-wing exit doors, it did not expect to receive any MAX 200s until late April or early May 2020, with "at best" ten aircraft in service for the peak summer season.[155]

Besides Ryanair, VietJet Air is also one of the few customers of the MAX 200 variant with an order of 100 airplanes placed in May 2016.[156] Similar to Ryanair, VietJet is designating its aircraft 737-8.[157]

On December 3, 2020, Ryanair ordered 75 MAX 8-200s, increasing its order book to 210 aircraft, the first large order since the grounding, for a list value of $7 bn, while the true value is estimated at $3 bn or less.[158] The high-density variant was certified by the FAA on March 31, 2021.[159]

Proposed 737-8ERX

Airlines have been shown a 737-8ERX concept based on the 737 MAX 8 with a higher 194,700 lb (88.3 t) maximum take-off weight using wings, landing gear, and central section from the MAX 9 to provide a longer range of 4,000 nautical miles (4,600 mi; 7,400 km) with seating for 150, closer to the Airbus A321LR.[160]

737 MAX 9

737 MAX 9 first flight on April 13, 2017

The 737 MAX 9 will replace the 737-900 and has a longer fuselage than the MAX 8. In 2016, Boeing planned to improve its range from 3,510 nmi (4,040 mi; 6,500 km) to 3,605 nmi (4,149 mi; 6,676 km) after 2021.[132] Lion Air was the launch customer with an order for 201 in February 2012.[36] It made its roll-out on March 7, 2017, and first flight on April 13, 2017;[161] it took off from Renton Municipal Airport and landed at Boeing Field after a 2 hr 42 min flight.[162] It was presented at the 2017 Paris Air Show.[163]

Boeing 737-9 flight tests were scheduled to run through 2017, with 30% of the -8 tests repeated; aircraft 1D001 was used for auto-land, avionics, flutter, and mostly stability-and-control trials, while 1D002 was used for environment control system testing.[48] It was certified by February 2018.[164] Asian low-cost carrier Lion Air Group took delivery of the first on March 21, 2018, before entering service with Thai Lion Air.[125] As the competing A321neo attracts more orders, the sale value of a 737-9 is the same as a 2018 737-8 at $53 million.[165]

737 MAX 10

737 MAX 10 rendering

To compete with the Airbus A321neo, loyal customers, such as Korean Air and United Airlines, pressed Boeing to develop a variant larger than the MAX 9, of which Boeing revealed studies in early 2016.[166] As the Airbus A321neo had outsold the MAX 9 five-to-one, the proposed MAX 10 included a larger engine, stronger wings, and telescoping landing gear in mid-2016.[167] In September 2016, it was reported that the variant would be simpler and lower-risk with a modest stretch of 6–7 ft (1.83–2.13 m) for a length of 143–144 ft (43.6–43.9 m), seating 12–18 more passengers for 192–198 in a dual-class layout or 226-232 for a single class, needing an uprated 31,000 lbf (140 kN) LEAP-1B that could be available by 2019, or 2020, and would likely require a landing-gear modification to move the rotation point slightly aft.[168]

In October 2016, Boeing's board of directors granted authority to offer the stretched variant with two extra fuselage sections forward and aft with a 3,100 nautical miles (3,600 mi; 5,700 km) range reduced from 3,300 nautical miles (3,800 mi; 6,100 km) of the MAX 9.[166] In early 2017, Boeing showed a 66 in (1.7 m) stretch to 143 feet (44 m), enabling seating for 230 in a single class or 189 in two-class capacity, compared to 193 in two-class seating for the A321neo. The modest stretch of the MAX 10 enables the aircraft to retain the existing wing, and the Leap 1B engine from the MAX 9 with a trailing-link main landing gear as the only major change.[169] Boeing 737 MAX Vice President and General Manager Keith Leverkuhn said the design had to be frozen in 2018, for a 2020 introduction.[166]

737 MAX 10 model at ILA Berlin Air Show 2018

Boeing hopes that 737-900 operators and 737 MAX 9 customers like United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Alaska Airlines, Air Canada, Lion Air, and Chinese airlines will be interested in the new variant.[170] Boeing predicts a 5% lower trip cost and seat cost compared to the A321neo.[171] Air Lease Corporation wants it a year sooner; its CEO John Pleuger stated "It would have been better to get the first airplane in March 2019, but I don't think that's possible".[172] AerCap CEO Aengus Kelly is cautious and said the -9 and -10 "will cannibalize each other".[166]

The 737 MAX 10 was launched on June 19, 2017, with 240 orders and commitments from more than ten customers.[173][174] United Airlines will be the largest 737 MAX 10 customer, converting 100 of their 161 orders for the MAX 9 into orders for the MAX 10.[175] Boeing ended the 2017 Paris Air Show with 361 orders and commitments, including 214 conversions, from 16 customers,[176] including 50 orders from Lion Air.[177]

The variant configuration was firmed up by February 2018,[178] and by mid-2018, the critical design review was completed. As of August 2018, assembly was underway with a first flight planned for late 2019. The semi-levered landing gear design has a telescoping oleo-pneumatic strut with a down-swinging lever to permit a 9.5 inches (24 cm) taller gear. Driven by the existing retraction system, a shrink-link mechanical linkage mechanism at the top of the leg, inspired by carrier aircraft designs, allows the gear to be drawn in and shortened while being retracted into the existing wheel well.[179][180] Entry into service is slated for July 2020.[181]

On November 22, 2019, Boeing unveiled the first MAX 10 to employees in its Renton factory, Washington, scheduled for the first flight in 2020.[182] At the time, 531 MAX 10s were on order, compared to 3,142 Airbus A321neos sold, capable of carrying 244 passengers or to fly up to 4,700 nmi (8,700 km) in its heaviest A321XLR variant.[183] The MAX 10 has similar capacity as the A321XLR, but shorter range and much poorer field performance, greatly hindering its potential to service smaller airports as compared to the A321XLR.[184]

By early 2021, Boeing expected 737 MAX 10 deliveries to start in 2023.[126] The variant made its maiden flight on June 18, 2021, initiating its flight test and certification program.[185]

On June 29, 2021, United Airlines placed an order for another 150 of the Boeing 737 MAX 10. These MAX 10s will replace a large number of United's older Boeing 757-200s.[186]

In September 2021, Ryanair failed to reach an agreement with Boeing over an order of MAX 10s, citing cost as a primary concern.[187]

Boeing Business Jet

The BBJ MAX 8 and BBJ MAX 9 are proposed business jet variants of the 737 MAX 8 and 9, with new CFM LEAP-1B engines and advanced winglets providing 13% better fuel burn than the Boeing Business Jet; the BBJ MAX 8 will have a 6,325 nmi (11,710 km) range, and the BBJ MAX 9 a 6,255 nmi (11,580 km) range.[188] The BBJ MAX 7 was unveiled in October 2016, with a 7,000 nmi (12,960 km) range and 10% lower operating costs than the original BBJ, while being larger.[189] The BBJ MAX 8 first flew on April 16, 2018, before delivery later the same year, and will have a range of 6,640 nmi (12,300 km) with an auxiliary fuel tank.[190]

Orders and deliveries

American Airlines was the first disclosed customer. By November 17, 2011, there were 700 commitments from nine customers, including Lion Air and SMBC Aviation Capital.[191][192] By December 2011, the 737 MAX had 948 commitments and firm orders from thirteen customers.[193] On September 8, 2014, Ryanair agreed to 100 firm orders with 100 options.[194] In January 2017, aircraft leasing company GECAS ordered 75.[195] By January 2019 the 737 MAX had 5,011 firm orders from 78 identified customers,[123] with the top three being Southwest Airlines with 280, flydubai with 251, and Lion Air with 251.[123] The first 737 MAX 8 was delivered to Malindo Air on May 16, 2017.[53]

Following the groundings in March 2019, Boeing suspended all deliveries of 737 MAX aircraft,[196] reduced production from 52 to 42 aircraft per month,[73] and on December 16, 2019, announced that production would be suspended from January 2020 to conserve cash and prioritize delivery of the 387 aircraft in storage once recertified.[75] At the time of the grounding, the 737 MAX had 4,636 unfilled orders[197] valued at an estimated $600 billion.[198][199] By November 30, 2020, at the time of the ungrounding, the unfilled orders stood at 4,039 aircraft.[200] As of September 2021, the 737 MAX has 4,024 unfilled orders and 581 deliveries.[5]

Boeing 737 MAX orders and deliveries [5]
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 Total
Orders 150 914 708 891 410 540 774 824 -136[b] -529[c] 59[d] 4,605
Deliveries 74 256 57 27 167 581
  1. ^ Production halted between January and late May 2020,[4] and currently in low-rate production
  2. ^ In 2019, there were 47 orders, but 183 cancellations of 737 MAX.[201]
  3. ^ In 2020, there were 112 orders, but 641 cancellations of 737 MAX.[202]
  4. ^ As of September 2021, there were 575 orders, but 516 cancellations of 737 MAX.[5]


Cumulative Boeing 737 MAX orders and deliveries

Orders

Deliveries

As of September 2021[5]

Accidents and incidents

Grounded 737 MAX aircraft at Boeing Field in Seattle

Between March 2017 and March 2019, the global fleet of 387 aircraft operated 500,000 flights and experienced two fatal accidents, having an accident rate of four accidents per million flights before it was grounded. The previous Boeing 737 generations averaged 0.2 accidents per one million flights.[203]

Lion Air Flight 610

Lion Air's 737 MAX 8, reg. PK-LQP, the airframe involved in the JT610 accident

On October 29, 2018, Lion Air Flight 610, 737 MAX 8 registration PK-LQP, plunged into the Java Sea 13 minutes after takeoff from Soekarno–Hatta International Airport, Jakarta, Indonesia. The flight was a scheduled domestic flight to Depati Amir Airport, Pangkal Pinang, Indonesia. All 189 people on board died. This was the first fatal aviation accident and first hull loss of a 737 MAX. The aircraft had been delivered to Lion Air two months earlier.[204][205] People familiar with the investigation reported that during a flight piloted by a different crew on the day before the crash, the same aircraft experienced a similar malfunction but an extra pilot sitting in the cockpit jumpseat correctly diagnosed the problem and told the crew how to disable the malfunctioning MCAS flight-control system.[206] Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee released its final report into the accident on October 25, 2019,[207] attributing the crash to the MCAS pushing the aircraft into a dive due to data from a faulty angle-of-attack sensor. Following the Lion Air crash, Boeing issued an operational manual guidance, advising airlines on how to address erroneous cockpit readings.[208]

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302

Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 reg. ET-AVJ, the airframe involved in the ET302 accident

On March 10, 2019, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, 737 MAX 8 registration ET-AVJ, crashed approximately six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,[209] on a scheduled flight to Nairobi, Kenya,[210] killing all 149 passengers and 8 crew members on board. The aircraft was four months old at the time.[211] The cause of the crash was initially unclear, though the aircraft's vertical speed after takeoff was reported to be unstable.[212] Evidence retrieved on the crash site suggests, that at the time of the crash, the aircraft was configured to dive, similar to Lion Air Flight 610.[213] On April 4, Ethiopian transport minister Dagmawit Moges stated, that the crew "performed all the procedures repeatedly provided by the manufacturer but was not able to control the aircraft."[214]

The subsequent findings in the Ethiopian Airlines crash and the Lion Air crash led to the global 737 MAX groundings. On August 19, 2019, Forbes estimated that the 737 MAX would not resume service before 2020.[215]

Specifications

737 MAX Characteristics[216]
Variant 737 MAX 7 737 MAX 8 / MAX 200 737 MAX 9 737 MAX 10
Seating 153 (8J + 145Y) to 172 max 178 (12J + 166Y) to 210 max[217] 193 (16J + 177Y) to 220 max 204 (16J + 188Y) to 230 max
Seat pitch 28–29 in (71–74 cm) in high density, 29–30 in (74–76 cm) in economy, 36 in (91 cm) in business
Cargo capacity 1,139 cu.ft / 32.3 m3 1,540 cu.ft / 43.6 m3 1,811 cu.ft / 51.3 m3 1,961 cu.ft / 55.5 m3
Length 116 ft 8 in / 35.56 m 129 ft 6 in / 39.47 m 138 ft 4 in / 42.16 m 143 ft 8 in / 43.8 m
Wing 117 ft 10 in / 35.92 m span, 1,370 sq ft (127 m2) area[49]
Overall height[218] 40 ft 4 in / 12.3 m
MTOW 177,000 lb / 80,286 kg 181,200 lb / 82,191 kg 194,700 lb / 88,314 kg 197,900 lb / 89,765 kg
Maximum Payload 46,040 lb / 20,882 kg
OEW[219] 99,360 lb / 45,070 kg
Fuel capacity 6,820 USgal / 25,816 L – 45,694 lb / 20,730 kg (no ACT)[a]
Engine (× 2) CFM International LEAP-1B, 69.4 in (176 cm) Fan diameter,[220] 26,786–29,317 lbf (119–130 kN)[49]
Cruising speed Mach 0.79 (453 kn; 839 km/h)[221]
Range[222] 3,850 nmi / 7,130 km 3,550 nmi / 6,570 km[b] 3,550 nmi / 6,570 km[c] 3,300 nmi / 6,110 km[c]
Ceiling 41,000 ft (12,000 m)[49]
Takeoff (ISA, SL, MTOW) 7,000 ft (2,100 m) 8,300 ft (2,500 m) 8,500 ft (2,600 m)
Landing (SL, MLW, dry) 5,000 ft (1,500 m) 5,000 ft (1,500 m) 5,500 ft (1,700 m)
ICAO Type[224] B37M B38M B39M B3XM
  1. ^ with 7 ACT: 10,394 USgal / 39,345 L – 69,640 lb / 31,594 kg
  2. ^ MAX 200: 2,700 nmi (5,000 km)[223]
  3. ^ a b With one ACT[222]

See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

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Further reading

  • Wise, Jeff (March 11, 2019). "Where did Boeing go wrong?". Slate.
  • "Countdown to Launch: The Boeing 737 MAX Timeline". Airways. January 27, 2016.

External links

  • Official website
  • Smith, Paul (May 12, 2017). "Flight test: Boeing's 737 Max – the same but different". FlightGlobal.
  • Boeing's Fatal Flaw (full documentary) | FRONTLINE, retrieved September 19, 2021