The rudder of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft painted in Qatar Airways livery has been spotted at Boeing Field, known officially as King County International Airport (BFI). However, the air carrier has not made a public announcement regarding plans to add the MAX 8 variant to its fleet.
A photograph of the aircraft was first shared on social media on January 21, 2023. While its registration number is not visible in the image, the airframe livery features a gray and purple color design on its rudder, which is characteristic of the Doha-based carrier.
The image resulted in discussions among planespotters about whether the aircraft was potentially being prepared to join the Gulf carrier’s fleet.
Qatar has so far confirmed plans to improve operations in terms of fuel efficiency and sustainability by expanding its short- and medium-haul fleet with a number of MAX 10 planes. The airline and Boeing initially signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for 25 737 MAX jets, the largest model of the 737 MAX family and capable of flying up to 230 passengers in a single cabin configuration, in January 2022.
The total deal value stood at around $7 billion at list prices at the time.
However, the potential agreement for the purchase expired. The order was then repeatedly re-announced during the Farnborough International Airshow 2022, which took place in England in July 2022.
Launched in 2017, the Boeing 737 MAX 10 is currently under development. The aircraft type must be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration in order to enter commercial service. However, the deadline for gaining FAA approval was set for the end of 2022. In November 2022, Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stanley Deal told investors at a conference that the MAX 10 was expected to enter service in 2024.
According to Boeing’s order and delivery list, in addition to the MAX order, Qatar Airways has also been waiting for the delivery of two 777F cargo aircraft and 14 777X passenger planes.
The carrier does not have any 737 MAX 8s on order, as per the manufacturer’s data.