According to sources familiar with the matter at hand, Boeing Co is readying the largest member of its 737 MAX family for its maiden flight, in what is probably an effort to close the sales gap with its European peer Airbus.
“The first voyage of the 737 MAX 10, expected around 10 a.m. local time from the Seattle area” said the source. The plane is scheduled to enter service in 2023 after due testing and certification.
Incidentally, while typically such events have the usual PR buzz surrounding them, especially first flights, the event is expected to be a low-key affair as Boeing trying to recover from a series of crises.
The 230-seat 737-10 model is designed to close the gap between the Boeing 178-to-220-seat 737-9, and the 185-to-240-seat A321neo, which dominates the top end of the narrowbody jet market, worth some $3.5 trillion over 20 years.
Incidentally, the market opportunity for the 737 MAX 10 is constrained by its range of 6,100 km (3,300 nm), which falls short of the A321neo’s 4,000 nm.
Further, the model will also have to safety certifications under a tougher regulatory regime following two fatal crashes which resulted in the grounding of the 737 MAX version for nearly two years.
According to analysts, relatively slow sales of the 737 MAX 10 and slightly smaller MAX 9 have given Boeing a strategic headache.