737 Max & Boeing Update
The Paris Airshow has come and gone. Airbus did very well, particularly with the new A321 XLR, signing up an impressive array of customers. This is why this is cool for passengers.
Your correspondent lives in Jacksonville. Going to Europe, for instance, usually involves flying to a hub (Miami, Charlotte, Philly, Newark, etc) and then to a European destination on a wide-body jet. The A321 XLR can economically fly to Heathrow from Jacksonville with, say, 180 passengers. Similar city pair connections across the globe will now be possible in this narrow-body (single aisle) jet. These flights will be profitable at near half the passengers that a wide-body jet can carry. The jet can potentially have additional fuel added to future model updates. The longer trips are also possible with models of the 737 Max.
This is at the bottom half of where Boeing is aiming their projected 797 Medium Market Aircraft. Boeing announced that if they do launch the 797 program, they will start with the larger model. It is usual to start with the smallest model first but that would put it head to head with the XLR. I am searching chats to see if fellow enthusiasts believe the A321 family is now developmentally tapped out, much as we thought the 737 was at its developmental end. I believe that is the case.
Boeing has obviously had a tough year. They took another hit when American Airlines ordered the XLR over long range versions of the Max. And Boeing suffered yet another hit when it learned that the first flight of its 777X, a much anticipated update that was hoped to be featured in Paris , would be delayed as much as six months due to a design issue with the new GE engines that needs correction. This is not unusual but the optics and timing were not good.
“Engines were installed by early January 2019. The first 777-9 body join happened in February for a delivery planned in summer 2020 to Lufthansa. The roll-out of the prototype occurred on March 13, 2019, in a low-key employees-only event overshadowed by the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 on March 10. The GE9X engines installed on the 777X prototype were first run on May 29. However, a compressor anomaly occurred on another engine during pre-delivery tests, and the maiden flight previously planned for no earlier than June 26 will now be delayed while the engines are modified to a final certifiable configuration. As of 17 June 2019, GE expressed confidence that the engine would receive certification during the fall and that the first flight of the 777X would still occur in 2019. The 777X test plan was later revised as several months are required to develop and test fixes to the GE9x, and first flight slipped to October-November.””
AND THEN, in Paris, Boeing and IAG, the parent company of a group of airlines such as Aer Lingus and British Airways, signed a letter of intent for 200 hundred Max aircraft. It was a spectacular turn about from what had truly been a very bad year for Boeing. There is no word on how deeply discounted these aircraft will be but it appears Boeing made them a deal they couldn’t refuse. And Airbus is quite put out about not being allowed in.
The 737 Max return to service looks like October in America. Airline pilots are currently selecting the segments they will fly for September and the FAA approval of a new version of MCAS plus an agreed upon training regimen is still to be accomplished. Return to service in other countries looks to be a more complicated process.
This YouTube video is an excellent summary of the whole 737 Max/A321 saga.