Is Boeing Canceling the Boeing 737 MAX?

After the Ethiopian Flight ET302 crashed on Sunday, the whole world is still grieving the 157 victims of the disaster.

However, this is the second deadly Boeing 737 MAX 8 crash in the span of fewer than 6 months. Back in October, a Lion Air MAX 8 plunged into the sea on flight JT 610. The two accidents have raised quite a few safety concerns about the newest Boeing 737 jet.

Subsequently, after the crash in Ethiopia, airlines and aviation authorities have grounded MAX 8 jets. In just three days, almost all of the global Boeing 737 MAX 8 fleet is sitting parked on the ground, generating millions of losses for airlines.

But how did it come to this?

Let’s run through the recent events and eventually, answer the big question: is Boeing done with the 737 MAX?

Airbus forced Boeing into the MAX

The Boeing 737 is arguably one of the most popular commercial jets currently still flying in the skies. According to Boeing, the manufacturer has delivered 10.510 various variants of the 737. 376 of those deliveries is the Boeing 737 MAX model.

One of the first versions of the Boeing 737 One of the first versions of the Boeing 737

Compared to the A320, the closest rival of the 737, Airbus has delivered a total of 8.674 A320s to airlines around the world.

Nevertheless, Boeing established the 737 replacement study in order to replace the popular narrow-body. Developed from the ground-breaking Boeing 707, the company realized that the jet has come to its limits. It needed to come up with a new design to compete with Airbus.

But Boeing did not want to re-design the wings, slap on a new engine and roll with it. The market asked for a new jet.

Or did it? Airbus proved Boeing wrong. It introduced the A320 with new engines and called it the Airbus A320neo (new engine option). Afterward, orders started to pour in. Surprisingly, American Airlines, which pretty much operated Boeing aircraft up to this point, also ordered quite a hefty number of the new A320neo. Airbus finally started to put a huge dent in Boeing’s hold of the market in the United States.

Boeing had to react. In order to save money and release the new jet faster, the company eventually had to re-engine the 737. The Boeing 737 MAX family was born and announced in 2011.

Equipped with new CFM International LEAP-1B engines, the aircraft promised an unprecedented level of fuel savings. Boeing said that the newest 737 generation will be 4% more efficient than the A320neo.

Coming out of the gate, Boeing also announced that they secured almost 500 orders for the newest jet. To be exact, 496 is the correct number.

Promises and small design changes

The 4% became a very important selling point for the manufacturer. Above all, Boeing promised airlines that they would not have to spend ridiculous amounts of money to train their pilots on the MAX. They are virtually the same as the previous generation of the 737, so a few hours of theoretical classes should be sufficient. Or so Boeing thought so.

As I mentioned before, 496 order commitments is a huge number. But to fit the new LEAP-1B engines, Boeing had to make some changes to the general design of the 737. To sum up the changes, Boeing added new split tip winglets, a new tail cone, revised APU and exhaust inlet. The Seattle based manufacturer also removed the aft-body vortex generators.

Boeing 737 MAX assembly Boeing 737 MAX assembly

Additionally, Boeing included a higher nose gear and new display screens for the pilots. While these changes don’t seem to be very radical, their eventual impact would be very significant.