I knew I would hear that from observers when covering the unveiling of the first Boeing 737 MAX 7 in Renton, WA this week. I get it. Sure, the MAX 7 is the runt of the MAX family, but often runts can grow up and do amazing things, like going fast.
This is going to be one fast plane to fly. The entire MAX family, from 10 down to 7 will have the same CFM LEAP 1-B engines. With the 7 being the smallest and lightest, I am sure it will become a favorite to fly for pilots. Of course being fun to fly isn’t really a great business case for airlines, and so far they haven’t bought many.
Where the entire MAX family has accumulated over 4,300 orders, from 93 customers from around the world, the MAX 7 has only 63 of those orders from four customers in the U.S. and Canada (Southwest has dibs on 30, WestJet has 23, Canada Jetlines has five and ILFC has the final five). Is there a bright future for this airplane? Personally, I hope so.
Let’s dive a bit more into Southwest’s relationship with the plane. As they currently operate about 500 737-700s, I would think they are an obvious 7 customer. Sure, Southwest is moving more towards the MAX 8, but those orders won’t cover the 737-700s that will need replacing in the upcoming years.
Even for the 30 7s that they have on order, they won’t be taking delivery for a while. They plan to take their first one in 2019, then six more soon after, but the other 23 have already been deferred to 2023. Talk about an un-luved runt. I wanted to learn a bit more how the 7 will fit into their future plans and they replied with the following:
“We remain excited to take delivery of our first Boeing MAX 7 in 2019 as planned. We did recently align the MAX 8s and the MAX 7s delivery schedules to match our expected growth while also better aligning the delivery of the MAX 7 for the time period when we expect to have more 737-700 retirements. Configured with 150 seats and all the Customer comforts and operational efficiencies of the 737 MAX family, we expect the MAX 7 will be a good fit for our fleet and network strategy. We’ll be incorporating the first seven MAX 7s into our fleet in 2019 to begin experiencing the expected operating benefits.”
So why is Boeing moving forward with the 7 MAX, without much love? Well, they are hoping that once it gets into service and airlines can see the benefits that the aircraft offers, customers will come flocking.
Maybe, but I think I remember similar sentiments with the 747-8I and we know how that turned out (if you don’t know, sadly not well). Also, there will be some tight competition for customers. Of course you have the recently famous BombardiAirbus CSeries, which doesn’t directly compete, but obviously close enough that it has caused Boeing to worry.
The more direct competitor is the Airbus A319neo, and according to Boeing, the MAX 7 will “fly 400 nautical miles farther than the A319neo, on 7 percent lower operating costs per seat.” I always take these statements with a huge grain of salt, since the MAX 7 hasn’t flown yet and the A319neo hasn’t yet been delivered to a customer.
So there might not be much business love for the 7 right now, but there was sure a lot of love by the employees who help to build the aircraft. The media was able to arrive early to get photos, before Boeing had some employees come out to see their plane. They were excited. Really excited. I mean, these were the people who see these planes day in and day out. Yet, here they were taking selfies and photos of themselves in front of their creation — it was very cool. Number of orders didn’t mean squat — they were proud of their mini-MAX.
Do not get me wrong. I have a love for this plane. Just the fact that it is a runt with not many orders makes me want to love it more. Not to mention that you will see all the excited AvGeeks getting the chance to ride on one of just a few 737 MAX 7s flying around North America.
The bad news is it will be a while before we can fly on one. The first MAX 7 will start test flights here soon and then will be delivered sometime in 2019. The good news is that leaves additional time for some airlines to pick one of these up.
You can also see some additional photos on our Flickr page
I would think there would be a way to sell speed. Airlines pad schedules so much these days, and ATC delays at major hubs (New York/Newark anyone?) slow the jets down even more. Airlines have slowed cruise speeds down and fight headwinds less to save fuel. So if you have a faster plane that can make up some of that lost time enroute and has a lower cost/seat mile than the competition and the metal you are retiring, it seems like that’s a marketable and profitable position to take.
Looking from WN’s perspective, some of the medium haul/medium “width” routes from mid-major to mid-major (I’m thinking stuff like BNA-OKC, stuff like that) could really benefit from the added knots and suit the MAX-7 capacity/range profile. Shorter segment time is good for travelers and airlines.
This aircraft wont be good for higher cruise speed, but quicker takeoff profiles, steeper descents, and better control response will make it feel sporty compared to a MAX 8, 9, or especially 10.
More speed generally equates to more fuel burn which equates to higher cost which means no airline is going to do it. Thats what I think at least
Sounds like it would have good potential as a business jet option with those characteristics?
Agreed! It will be the basis of the next BBJ iteration with Aux fuel tanks added for extra range. BBJ 737s can already fly 6000 Nmi missions so this would be competitive with Global 6000/7000/8000, G650ER and others with better parts and Mx support world wide. Potentially military applications as well.
Was there ever a Boeing Roll-Out in GOOD weather? I can’t recall one. Same question applies to First Flights? Furthermore, why debut this Baby Boeing under cloak of darkness? Seems peculiar to me.
It’s Seattle in the winter. I lived there, not 10 minutes from Boeing in Mukilteo. Yes, the winter can be grey and rainy like last winter, but the summers and the region are glorious.
Peter, I’m aware that the weather illustrated in these photos is typical and normal for Puget Sound – for MOST of the year. I found the weather to be —- by trial and error; during spotting missions to the Sound, over the years. Eventually, I learned that the unofficial start of Summer out there is July 4th. That’s when the wx pattern begins to change. The really good and sunny weather usually starts in the final few days of July; extending into early September. So, that’s when I do my spotting missions out to Jet City. Furthermore, daylight is quite long as well.
Btw, the Mini-Max is now on the ramp across the runway from the main spotting/car park area at RNT. A friend sent me images of the Mini-Max that he shot from there yesterday.
Just good business sense……when a product works….flaunt it !! (anybody remember the DC-3, or 707??)
The Max 7 is not a runt, its fun sized…Like a small candy bar