United tells Boeing to swap 737 MAX 10 build for MAX 9s; A321 talks confirmed 

United Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9
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Boeing has been instructed by United Airlines to build more 737 MAX 9 aircraft for the carrier, rather than focus on the MAX 10, which is yet to be certified.  

The move comes as type certification of the MAX 10 looks increasingly unlikely to happen within the next couple of years, with Boeing’s production ambitions hampered by the Alaska Airlines door plug blowout and subsequent resulting investigations.   

“We’ve asked Boeing to stop building Max 10s, which they’ve done, for us and start building Max 9s. It’s impossible to say when the Max 10 is going to get certified,” United CEO Scott Kirby told a JPMorgan investor conference on March 12, 2024. 

United has an outstanding order for 277 Boeing 737 MAX 10 aircraft, plus another 200 options. 

The United CEO also appeared to confirm rumors that the airline is looking to the Airbus A321 as a possible alternative to some of the MAX 10s it has on order.  

“We are in the market for A321s, and if we get a deal where the economics work, we’ll do something. If we don’t, we won’t and will wind up with more Max 9s,” Kirby said. 

According to Bloomberg, once the MAX 10 receives certification, United will switch back to the larger family aircraft variant. 

‘Boeing’s drive to ramp up production of some aircraft has been restricted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) following the Alaska Airlines incident on January 5, 2024, when a 737-9 door plug separated from the fuselage shortly after takeoff. 

The subsequent fallout and impact of the incident on Boeing has been colossal, with investigations launched by not only the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) but also the US Department of Justice (DoJ). 

Despite Kirby’s recent criticism of Boeing, he believes that the planemaker should take this time to get its house in order, even if it results in delays to aircraft production. 

“This is not a 12-month issue, this is a two-decade issue,” Kirby said, adding: “I’d rather Boeing do what they need to do, and they are now.” 

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