Boeing 737 Max 9 Cleared for Service

 - February 16, 2018, 9:52 AM
The Boeing 737 Max 9 flies to a range of 3,550 nm. (Photo: Boeing)

The Boeing 737 Max 9 has received its U.S. Federal Aviation Administration amended type certificate, clearing it for commercial service with launch customer Lion Air of Indonesia, Boeing announced Friday. The certification marks the culmination of an 11-month flight-test program involving two airplanes.

Designed to carry 220 passengers to a range of 3,550 nm, the Max 9 becomes the second 737 Max variant to win certification. It follows the program’s baseline Max 8, which has collected most of the orders for the four Max variants. Although Boeing declines to break down order numbers by model because, it says, some customers retain rights to move from one to the other, the Max 9 has drawn far fewer initial commitments than has the Max 8 or the more recently launched Max 10—the largest of all the Max variants.

Although industry analysts expect the Max 10 to “cannibalize” the Max 9’s market to a degree, Boeing Commercial Airplanes marketing vice president Randy Tinseth insisted at the recent Singapore Airshow that while a small proportion of the new orders and commitments for the Max 10 represent transfers from Max 9s, most were completely new, suggesting that the Max 10 has not significantly compromised demand for the smaller variant.

“We see a place for both the 9 and the 10, depending on the customer,” said Tinseth. “The 10 plugged a hole that we had, and that hole was we didn’t have as many seats as the [Airbus] A321.” 

Addressing the demand mix for the Max family, Tinseth estimated that between 60 and 65 percent of orders will go to the baseline Max 8, 20 to 25 percent to the Max 9 and 10 and roughly 10 percent “on the lower end of that market,” namely the Max 7.

Crucially, Tinseth did not separate demand estimates for the Max 9 and Max 10, the smaller of which leasing company Avolon said would find itself all but squeezed out of the market in a report that it issued last summer.