A contract for 30 of the new 737 Max airliners placed by an undisclosed customer on Tuesday has pushed Boeing passed 2,000 orders for the new-generation narrowbody. According to the U.S. airframer, the Max has reached the 2,000-order mark faster than any other Boeing aircraft. Boeing now holds 2,010 orders from 39 customers worldwide, with a collective value of $209 billion at list prices, plus commitments for more than 250 additional aircraft.
The 737 Max will be powered by CFM International’s new Leap-1B engine and, according to Boeing, this will make it between 14 and 20 percent more fuel efficient than existing 737s. Final assembly of the first of the new type is on track for mid-2015, with Boeing aiming to achieve a first flight in 2016 and first delivery to launch customer Southwest Airlines in the third quarter of 2017. Other customers include Air Lease Corporation, United Airlines and Brazil’s Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes.
“Two thousand orders at this stage in the program is a remarkable achievement,” said Keith Leverkuhn, vice president and general manager of the 737 Max program. “Since its first order, the 737 Max has received more than 50 percent of the new orders versus its direct competition [the Airbus A320neo], proving the value this airplane offers to our customers.”
However, at a May 20 press conference at the ILA show in Berlin, John Leahy, Airbus COO customers, said that the European airframer has already convinced eight established 737 operators to switch to the A320neo. He claimed that Airbus has won 60 percent of the Max/Neo market segment. Leahy also confirmed that Airbus plans to offer increased seat capacity in its narrowbody products, with 189 seats on new A320s and 240 on the A321 to meet the needs of low-cost carriers.