(Story updated on June 22 to account for new order total)
Boeing officially launched the 737 Max 10 during the first day of the Paris Air Show, in an answer to Airbus’s hot-selling A321neo. By the end of the show announcing orders, commitments and coversions from smaller Max types for 361 examples from 16 customers, Boeing collected its biggest on Day 2, when it announced that United Airlines agreed to convert an order for 100 Max 9s to the same number of Max 10s.
The Max 10 incorporates a pair of fuselage plugs to extend the Max 9’s length by 66 inches. Other changes include a levered main landing gear, minor wing changes to accommodate the 777-style landing gear and a four-inch wider mid-exit door to allow for the extra 12 passengers, bringing maximum capacity to 230.
Speaking at a pre-show briefing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes headquarters in Seattle, BCA head of product development Mike Delaney said the company started offering the airplane in its current form last October, after originally considering more powerful engines. Powered by the same CFM Leap-1Bs found on the rest of the Max line, the Max 10 might have come with Leap-1As or Leap-1Cs if Boeing had stuck with its original plan.
“What [airlines] really wanted was seats and economics,” said Delaney. “Remember, with the 737 versus the A320 family, they’re carrying 25 percent more thrust than we are. We’re fundamentally a 28 k engine, they’re fundamentally a 34 k engine. That’s a huge difference in airplane and weight, and you can’t put that kind of stuff on a 737 or 321 and not degrade the economics. So the customers came back and said, ‘No, what we really want is the economic horizon of the 737.' And then they came in and [asked], 'How many seats can you put in it?’ So we went back to them; and this is the airplane we have.”
Designed to hold 188 seats in a two-class configuration, the Max 10 carries the same passenger capacity as the A321neo under those rules, while in a single-class arrangement the Boeing product holds slightly fewer. However, Boeing promises a 5 percent lower fuel burn per seat and more range in the Max 10, creating what Delaney characterized as a winning competitive formula. Airbus specifies a range of 4,256 nautical miles for an A321neo equipped with Sharklet wingtips.
Orders for the newly launched Boeing Max 10 announced during the first day of the the show included a 10-aircraft MOU from China’s BOC Aviation worth $1.25 billion and a conversion of a GECAS order for 20 Max 9s to the same number of Max 10s. GECAS holds orders for 170 Max jets, the most of any leasing company.
By the end of the morning Dublin-based CDB Aviation Lease Finance added to the total by another 10 Max 10s, in an MOU also covering 42 Max 8s and eight 787-9s. Appearing at a briefing with Boeing Commercial Airplanes president Kevin McAllister, CDB Aviation CEO Peter Chang promised big plans for the now 100 Boeing airplanes in its portfolio. “Our new vision is to propel CDB Aviation into a formidable global aviation leasing platform,” he said. “The 737 Max and 787 Dreamliner will play a key role in bolstering our fleet and advancing our global market presence to fulfill the vision.”
Yet another leasing company order came from Tibet Financial Leasing, which signed an MOU for 20 Max jets, including Max 10s and Max 8s, worth $2.5 billion at list prices.
The first direct airline deal announced for the Max 10 involved TUI Group, which ordered 18 of Boeing’s biggest narrowbody. Along with the 737 Max, TUI Group holds unfilled orders for four 787-9 Dreamliners. The group also carries options for 50 Max jets and converted 10 to the Max 10. The Group will take delivery of its first 737 Max aircraft in January 2018.
A still bigger airline order came from India’s SpiceJet, which signed an MOU for 40 Max 10s, split evenly between new orders and conversions of a previous Max order. SpiceJet’s orderbook covers 155 Boeing Max jets.
Appearing at a Boeing press briefing with McAllister, SpiceJet CEO Ajay Singh thanked Boeing for helping it out of financial trouble in 2014, both in words and with the new order. He said Airbus approached SpiceJet with an aggressive offer for A320neos, but Singh said he ultimately chose the “better airplane and a better partner.”
Singh described the Max 10’s seating capacity of 230 as “absolutely brilliant,” particularly for India’s capacity-constrained airports in Delhi and Mumbai.
Boeing saved the biggest Max 10 commercial announcement of Day 1 for late in the afternoon, when Indonesia's Lion Air committed to 50 of the new airplanes valued at $6.42 billion at list prices. Already one of the largest 737 operators in the world, Lion Air has so far placed firm orders for 201 Max jets. I also serves as the launch customer for the Max 9, while its Malaysian subsidiary, Malindo Air, took delivery of the first Max 8 in May.