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Boeing launches MAX 10 at Paris Air Show

UPDATED: Mon., June 19, 2017, 2:55 p.m.

The first of the large Boeing 737 MAX 9 models sits outside its production plant in Renton, Wash., in on March 7. The MAX 9 and MAX 10 models from Boeing have gotten a strong reception at the Paris Air Show. (Associated Press)
The first of the large Boeing 737 MAX 9 models sits outside its production plant in Renton, Wash., in on March 7. The MAX 9 and MAX 10 models from Boeing have gotten a strong reception at the Paris Air Show. (Associated Press)

Boeing launched the new 737 MAX 10 on the opening day of the Paris Air Show, reporting that it has 240 orders and commitments to announce this week.

It initially made public about two-thirds of those Monday, saying that the rest will be announced in Paris later.

Boeing the new, longer version of its 737 MAX jet at the Paris Air Show in hopes of boosting orders for the single-aisle plane in its race with European rival Airbus.

The CEO of Boeing’s commercial planes operations, Kevin McAllister, said Monday the 737 MAX 10 will offer customers more flexibility and seating space. It is expected to cost a bit more than the 737 MAX 9, which runs at $119 million according to list prices.

Boeing will this week show off a 737 MAX 9, which has struggled to attract customers.

The MAX series of jets are designed to be a more fuel-efficient version of the workhorse 737, Boeing’s most popular commercial plane. They compete with Airbus planes in the A320-neo family, aiming at a similar short- to mid-range market.

Of the 158 orders and commitments announced by Boeing so far, four were new firm orders, 90 were new purchase commitments and 64 were conversions of existing orders for MAX 8 or MAX 9 models.

The largest MAX 10 sale announced Monday was a new commitment for 50 jets from Indonesia’s Lion Air Group, which previously ordered 201 MAXs.

Lion Air is also the launch customer of the 737 MAX 9 and its subsidiary, Malaysia-based Malindo Air, this month took delivery of the first two 737 MAX 8s, which are now in commercial service.

A bigger, broader sale commitment that included MAX 10s along with other MAXs and 787 Dreamliners was announced by CDB Aviation Lease Finance of China.

In Paris, CDB signed a memorandum of understanding for 42 MAX 8s, 10 MAX 10s and eight 787-9 Dreamliners. Of those MAX 10 orders, six were conversions from a previous order for MAX 8s.

In a phone interview from Paris, Keith Leverkuhn, Boeing vice president in charge of the MAX program, said the 64 conversions from existing MAX orders reflect the importance of allowing airlines to substitute other models as they nail down their fleet-planning needs and that he’s very pleased with the number of incremental orders.

Boeing’s list price for those 94 new orders is about $11.7 billion. However, standard industry price discounts would cut the value to just less than $5 billion and it’s highly likely that for orders like these launching a new model the discounts are much bigger.

The MAX 10 is designed to stem the loss of sales to the rival Airbus A321neo, which has won more than 1,400 orders.

Though Airbus claims its jet has more range, Leverkuhn vehemently challenged that.

He said the Airbus claim is based on adding auxiliary fuel tanks, which airlines add only if they absolutely need the extra range because they are a maintenance headache.

With two extra auxiliary tanks, the A321neo has slightly more range than the 3,450-mile range of the MAX without such tanks, Leverkuhn said. But Boeing can add just one tank to the MAX 10 to trump that.

“Base-to-base airplanes, we have more range,” Leverkuhn said. “If we put one extra tank, we have better range than they have with two.”

Because the Boeing 737 jet family is smaller and lighter than the Airbus A320/A321 family, Boeing claims the MAX is more fuel efficient than the A320neo and therefore gives airlines much better economics.

An independent analysis by aviation consulting firm Leeham.net comparing the MAX 10 and the A321neo concluded that with similar seating configurations, the economics of the two jet families are roughly on par.

Leverkuhn said the MAX 10 now completes the MAX family and offers airlines great flexibility.

For carriers that want a jet to fly longer, thinner routes, the MAX 9 has almost 600 miles of extra range than the MAX 10. But the 10 has two extra rows of seats.

“For those airlines that want capacity, they now have it,” he said. “If they want the range, they have the MAX 9.”

Other MAX 10 announcements in Paris on Monday:

– Chinese airplane leasing firm BOC Aviation announced a memorandum of understanding for 10 airplanes, “subject to internal approvals.”

– New Chinese lessor Tibet Financial Leasing signed a memorandum of understanding for 20 MAXs, including both MAX 10s and MAX 8s with the precise mix not disclosed.

– India’s SpiceJet signed a memorandum of understanding for 40, half of which were conversions from existing MAX orders.

– GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS), the commercial aircraft leasing and financing arm of GE, which makes the LEAP engines that power the Boeing jet, converted 20 of its existing MAX orders to the larger MAX 10.

– And TUI Group of Germany, which operates charter and scheduled flights for European tourists, converted 18 existing 737 MAX orders to the MAX 10.



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