The case for the MAX7 and MAX10 being grandfathered under the MAX8 and MAX9 certifications is straightforward. Any physical changes will lead to uncommon flight decks and additional training for pilots. And, to be clear, this will impact safety – pilots trained to fly a MAX should not have to learn new procedures and systems. Muscle memory being what it is, the best outcome is that all MAXs are the same from a pilot’s point of view. There is a single-aisle MoM conundrum.
Putting that issue to the side, the market needs more single-aisle MoM aircraft. Boeing needs this, too. The MAX7 is a smaller market – Southwest is the biggest customer. So Boeing can’t ignore it. But the MAX10 is the far more important model. Here’s why.
This chart shows MAX9 deliveries for 2022 through December 14. Compare those 54 deliveries to 295 MAX8s. It is clear the MAX9 is finding traction at two airlines. (similar to the MAX7) The MAX family needs the largest model, stat.
If you need more evidence take a look at the single-aisle king, the A321. There have been 240 deliveries this year and there are two weeks to go. The YTD average is 4.8 A321NX deliveries per week. Unlike the MAX9, the A321NX has a wide customer base. Note the interest in China ad India in particular.
The Boeing 757 continues to cast its shadow over the market. The biggest operators of the 757 were American, Delta, and United. The latter two airlines ordered MAX10s. American has not ordered the MAX10. Instead, it has taken A321; it operates 65 A321neos, and 218 A321ceos plus another 55 on order. American used to have 177 757s and looks like ending up with 338 A321s.
Delta ordered 100 MAX10s with 142 A321s in service with another 140 on order. Delta is the largest 757 operator and still has 111 in service. United has 120 A321s on order and operates 61 757s. United has MAX10s lined up to replace the 757s.
Whereas the United States was the first home for the single-aisle MoM, the A321 chart shows us that this segment has attracted global interest. The single-aisle MoM is the quintessential enabler. JetBlue is an example in the US, serving the UK and soon, the EU. Airlines like Wizz deploy these aircraft and created a large network of markets. TAP flies its A321 from Portugal to Washington DC. India’s A321 fleet is deployed across the Middle East. Arkia’s A321s fly as far as Seychelles, and the airline wants to fly them to India. All these new operations are enabled by the A321neo.
The A321neo backlog is ~3,700 and the current production rate of the entire A320 family is 50/month. If 75% of that rate is A321-focused, we have 99 months of production in that backlog. Airbus aims to increase its rate but that is not an easy task.
This leads back to the need for the MAX10. There is a need: Airlines need larger aircraft because of better economics. But with a pilot shortage, larger aircraft are needed to move growing traffic volumes with a given supply of pilots. Demand for the single-aisle MoM is manifest. Here’s hoping Boeing wins the space it needs to get the MAX10 into customers’ fleets.
Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.