Thursday, July 6, 2017

Is Boeing's Max 10 what A Max 9 Should Have Been?

Ever since Paris, a story is developing about the survival of the 737 Max-9. Airbus claims the 737 Max 10 will cannibalize the Max Fleet and not harm the Airbus NEO offering. On the surface this would be a true but a optimistic position taken by Airbus. However, Boeing may have missed with its 737 Max 9 Offering and made the course correction with the Max 10.

From the 737 Technical Site
737 MAX-10 dimensions

Max -10:
  • Length 43.8m / 143 feet 8 inches, ie 66 inches (1.68m) or 2 seat rows longer than the MAX-9
  • Passenger capacity 230 in single-class layout, 12 seats more than the MAX-9.
  • Range 3215nm. Slightly less than MAX-8 and -9 (3,515nm) but 265nm more than -900ER
  • Slightly higher MTOW, approx 92,000kg
  • Engine LEAP-1B with possible thrust bump
  • Probably trailing-link MLG, that extends up to 23cm on take-off to prevent tail strike.
  • An “improved flap design” that enables more approaches and landing at Flaps 40
  • Maximum landing weight center of gravity modified in a way that will avoid “tail tip” events.
  • Improved body contour to reduce the risk of tail strikes.
  • Autoland will be certified for lower landing flap settings to improve go-around climb performance following enroute icing conditions.
  • Entry into service approx 2020

Max -9:
  • Length 42.1m / 138 feet 1 inch, ie 66 inches (2.6m) or 5 seat rows longer than the MAX-8
  • Single class passenger capacity of up to 220
  • MTOW 88,314kg
  • Range 3515nm
  • Engine LEAP-1B 28B1
  • Only 220 of the 3600 MAX orders are for the -9
  • Two flight test aircraft, 1D001, N7379E (42987/6250) and 1D002, N739EX (42989/6308)
  • Expected certification Q1 2018
  • Entry into service approx 2018, Launch customer Lion Air.
Incremental change is like trying shoes on at the shoe store. A customer can't fit the arch and goes to the next size. The show width is too narrow so it goes the next 1/2 size up. Then the heel slips off when walking. The bunion wears on the outer wall of the toe area. So goes the MAX build of the single aisle aircraft. Something to small, too big and then not just right. Boeing needs a NMA and John Leahy
from Airbus stated the obvious. Boeing is competing with itself in the single aisle.

Fig. 1

Above  states the Leahy  case in specifications. The weight, passengers and range do not bracket the A321 NEO in a sandwich between models. Boeing can only hope the Max 10 is just enough to compete with the A-321 NEO but won't exceed it. A perfect scenario for Boeing would be a NMA and a Max-9 in the family bracketing against the NEO family at every fit for routes and capacity. The 737 MAX 10 appears on paper to be a match for the A321-NEO with a slightly less capability. The Max-10 hurts the 737 MAX-9 chances at the back end. The models are so close in capability it becomes a more out of convenience to buy one or the other. An Airbus customer has no motivation for even looking at the 737 Max -9 when it could buy a Max-10 for some other intrinsic reason. The Max 10 and Max 9 will have to rely on other important aspects found in the aircraft to win Airbus customers over.. Once again a NMA would break this single body log jam.

However, it is not always as simple to just build an airplane and they will come into the field of dreams. Boeing will have to slip the NMA model in its back door of its overarching plans. Airbus is waiting and watching Boeing's move with great intensity at its decision. They will re engineer the A321 and then the A330 NEO make-over, even if Boeing comes out with a completely different frame type. The potential Boeing customer will have to love the NMA as the "best thing since sliced bread".

The complexity of the mater is creating a long or quick timeline. The 737 MAX 10 pleases Boeing customers more than Airbus customers and stops the bleeding when loyal Boeing customers even consider the A321NEO. Boeing can offer a deal "they won't refuse". A long timeline suggests waiting Airbus out until it over commits onto something else, and a quick timeline is a rush to market before the competitor can react. Quickness was the Airbus maneuver when it ushered forth the whole NEO family of aircraft. The chess board move now suggests a double move is in the works with Boeing on the heels of the 777X project. Airbus may counter one but could not counter a 2nd move by Boeing.

Where would a second move come from? The super Jumbo is dying and the "gap" is filling. The 777X is going to be a legacy aircraft in time. Boeing has little options but to move in with an all original NMA going to market in five years. The 737-Max-10 is a program place holder for its own customers. A NMA is a market breach into competitor territory. The second shoe dropping is a whole new single aisle family from all the lessons learned during the last twenty-years.