The 737 MAX 9 is the latest new aircraft to take to the skies this month, completing its first flight last Thursday. This aircraft follows the MAX 8, which flew earlier and is approaching the first delivery of the MAX series scheduled for May 2018 to Southwest. The first flight of the MAX9 came 3 days short of the 50th anniversary of the first flight of the 737, which entered service in February 1968.
The initial flight reached 23.500 feet and a speed of 368 knots during its 2 hour and 45 minute flight over the state of Washington. A video recap of the flight can be found here.
The MAX9 carries 16 more passengers than the 9 foot smaller MAX8 in a two-class configuration, and will be the third of four models in order of size should Boeing formally launch the proposed 188 seat MAX10 later this year.
Some analysts believe that the MAX10 may cannibalize the market for the MAX9, which been outsold by a 3.3:1 margin by the Airbus A321neo in its size class. Airbus A320neo family has generated substantially more orders than the MAX series, outselling it 5,407 to 3,403 respectively, through the first quarter of 2017.
The Bottom Line
Boeing does not break out orders by aircraft type, but industry sources estimate that 418 of the 8,810 total re-engined narrow-body orders are for the MAX 9, about 4.7% of the total. By contrast, the A321 represents 1,385 or 15.7% of the market. The proposed MAX 10 could cut into that lead, but the question many in the industry ask is whether it is too little, too late? While it is nice to see the MAX 9 flying, it has a long way to go to catch the A321neo, which has a substantial lead in orders.