European budget airline Ryanair has now officially taken delivery of its long-awaited Boeing 737 MAX 8200, after a near-two-year delay.
The 737 MAX jet, donned in Ryanair’s iconic livery, took off from Seattle at 1:00pm PDT and flew nonstop to Dublin in a nine-hour flight.
The MAX 8’s published range is normally 3,550 nautical miles, however, due to the lack of passengers and cargo, Ryanair’s inaugural MAX jet was able to stretch to 3,775 nautical miles.
“We are delighted to take delivery of our first new technology Gamechanger aircraft,” chief executive Michael O’Leary said in an emailed statement.
“These new Boeing 737 aircraft will help Ryanair lower costs, cut fuel consumption and lower noise and CO2 emissions as we invest heavily in new technology to deepen our environmental commitment as Europe’s greenest, cleanest major airline.”
The airline has been waiting over two years for the imminent delivery of its specified 737 MAX 8200 variant. The variant was tailor-made for budget carriers following orders from Ryanair and has been modified to enable additional seats.
While O’Leary applauds the delivery, the airline will take delivery of its MAX jets at a slower rate than originally forecasted, as a ramification from the extended delays on Boeing’s part.
“Due to regrettable delivery delays, we expect to take delivery of just 12 of these aircraft during Summer 2021, with six delivering in Ryanair colours and six in Malta Air colours,” O’Leary said.
The airline now expects to take delivery of an additional 50 737 MAX jet before Summer 2022.
Earlier this month, the airline signalled it would consider declining the delivery of its first MAX jets, as Boeing had yet to set a date for delivery, and the airline typically avoids welcoming new aircraft in the month of June as it is a busy season for the airline.
Ryanair had also already announced a revised delivery schedule for its first MAX jets in order to avoid deliveries being made in June.
Ryanair made its first order for the 197-seat MAX 8200 jet in late 2014. The agreement included 100 firm orders and 100 options. Ryanair later made another firm order for 10 jets in 2017, and a further 25 in 2018.
The jet’s certification was held up during the 20-month grounding of the entire 737 MAX fleet after two fatal accidents that killed 346 people in total in 2018 and 2019.
The crashes were later identified to have been caused in part by faults in the plane’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System.
Following a months-long process of safety upgrades and test flights, the FAA was the first to lift its grounding order on the MAX 8 in November 2020 – however, the airline’s 8200 only received its official certification in April this year.
The FAA stated that the recertified design “incorporated all of the design improvements that were part of the 20-month review,” which included an additional emergency exit fitted.
However, despite the ongoing issues, the airline has continued to show support for the aircraft with O’Leary marking it as a commercial and financial “gamechanger”, as the 737 MAX can carry 4 per cent more passengers, with 16 per cent less fuel burn, than its 737 predecessor.
Just weeks after recertification, in December 2020, Ryanair announced an order for a further 75 MAX aircraft in a deal worth over $9 billion, in a public show of confidence for Boeing and the MAX.