The largest member of Boeing’s 737 MAX family has reached firm configuration, bringing the aircraft one step closer to the start of production.
With all the design requirements in place, the 737 MAX 10 program would now move into the “detailed design phase”, Boeing said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The steps we’ve taken to reach this point ensure the MAX 10 will be the most efficient and profitable single-aisle airplane the market has ever seen,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president of marketing Randy Tinseth said in a statement.
“We’re working closely with our airline customers to deliver on the performance and efficiency benefits we’ve promised.”
Launched at the Paris Airshow in 2017, the aircraft will have a range of 3,300nm (with one auxiliary tank) and can carry up to 230 passengers in a single-class layout, according to the Boeing website. Entry into service is expected to occur in 2020.
It is the fifth and largest variant of the 737 MAX program alongside the 737 MAX 7 (172 seats, 3,850nm), MAX 8 (210 seats, 3,550nm) MAX 200 (200 seats, 2,700nm) and MAX 9 (220 seats, 3,550nm).
The MAX family of aircraft features a new flightdeck, fly-by-wire spoilers and new technology winglets compared with the current model 737 NG. It is powered by two CFM International LEAP 1B 176cm fan diameter engines, compared with the CFM56 155cm fan diameter on the NG.
To accommodate the larger diameter engine, the MAX incorporates a taller nose wheel landing gear leg, while the engine nacelles’ trailing edges feature noise-reducing chevron shaping, as also seen on the 787.
The MAX 10 is a 1.68m stretch of the MAX 9, with 1.17m forward of the wing and the remainder aft of the wing.
In addition to a levered main landing gear, the MAX 10 also features a variable exit limit rating mid-exit door, a lighter flat aft pressure bulkhead and a modified wing for low speed drag reduction.
Industry estimates suggested Airbus’ A321neo was outselling the 737 MAX 9 by a factor of five to one, prompting Boeing to respond with the MAX 10.
In this part of the world, Virgin Australia has ordered 40 737 MAX aircraft. First delivery was expected in the final quarter of the 2019 calendar year.
Boeing’s other two 737 MAX customers in Oceania are Air Niugini, which put pen to paper in February 2016 for four MAX aircraft arriving from 2020, and Fiji Airways, which is expected to begin taking the five 737 MAX 8s on order later in 2018.
Meanwhile, Qantas is expected to run a competition between the 737 MAX and A320neo at some future point for the replacement of its existing 737-800 fleet.
Boeing said the MAX 10 has received 416 orders and commitments from 18 customers.
News of the MAX 10 reaching firm configuration followed the rollout of the first MAX 7 on February 5.
“The first MAX 7 will now undergo system checks, fueling and engine runs on the flight line in Renton,” Boeing said.
“The airplane, the first of two MAX 7 flight test airplanes, will begin its flight testing program in the coming weeks.”
First delivery to launch customer Southwest Airlines is expected in 2019.