Relations have been strained for some time between Delta Airlines and Boeing, with the OEM even going to court about a missed MAX 7 order when Delta preferred the Airbus A220. But that’s in the past now and a new relationship has started on aircraft procurement. With the result that Delta announced an order for 100 MAX 10s plus 30 options on the first day of Farnborough Airshow.
Delta will take delivery of the first of them from 2025 through 2029 in evenly split batches, said Senior Vice President of Fleet and Technical Operations, Mahendra Nair, without disclosing specific numbers. Once confirmed, the options will be available from 2030.
The order is “a huge testament to the value of the MAX and the MAX 10. Thank you so much for coming back into the family. This was definitely worth waiting for,” said Ihssane Mounir, Boeing’s Senior Vice President of Commercial Sales and Marketing. And it comes at a crucial moment, as Boeing still needs to confirm that the MAX 10 can be certified without the need to make essential changes to the cockpit. If certification isn’t completed this year – which is highly unlikely -, US legislation requires Boeing to include an Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System. Boeing President and CEO David Calhoun said recently that he is even prepared to ditch the MAX 10 if Congress doesn’t grant the airframer an exemption.
When asked, Mahendra Nair said that he hadn’t been concerned about Calhoun’s remarks: “Boeing has been very transparent with us on the situation. The MAX 10 really is the airplane we want. This is a deal that we have been wanting for some time.”
But a few minutes earlier, he said: “If they have to change the aircraft to include EICAS, we will have to rethink where we stand.” Delta counts on certification of the ‘10’ in 2023 but will likely have the contractual flexibility to swap the 10s for another MAX version, but that’s not a scenario Nair was willing to dig too deep into. He called on Congress to grant the exemption, stressing the importance of fleet commonality between all MAX versions. Delta also confirmed the order for 200 CFM LEAP-1B engines for the 100 aircraft plus spare engines, plus options for 66 engines for the 30 aircraft on option from 2030.
Delta’s MAX 10s will be configured with 230 seats and help grow the share of First and Comfort Class seats to 29 percent. And then there will be upcoming cabin reconfiguration of 29 737-900ERs that will be done by Boeing Global Services. Delta acquired the “gently used” aircraft recently and will have them all modified by 2025, after which they will stay in the fleet for the next 20-25 years. Nair said that MAX 10s will fit the Delta hub network and will compliment the 236 737NGs currently in the fleet, although some older-800s will be retired.
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News. From January 2023, he will add a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.