Boeing’s largest 737 MAX variant, the MAX 10, has lifted off from Renton Municipal Airport (RNT). The 737 MAX 10 made its maiden flight in a very different manner from other Boeing jets, as the aircraft manufacturer grapples with the dual effects of the pandemic and the lingering memory of the MAX grounding. Nevertheless, this is good news for Boeing, and airlines are awaiting the MAX 10’s arrival in their fleets.
Boeing’s 737 MAX 10 makes its maiden flight
The aircraft, painted in the Boeing house livery, took off from Renton at 10:07 local time in Seattle. The jet will spend the next few hours in the air undergoing various testing and giving Boeing’s engineers and employees a first look at the plane’s actual performance in the air.
The jet is flying under the callsign “BOE101.” This is a pretty standard callsign for Boeing’s test flying. At the time of writing, it was scheduled to arrive at 12:35 in Grant County International Airport (MWH). This facility is also where Boeing has stored MAX aircraft during the grounding, better known as Moses Lake.
The MAX 10 will largely fly over the Pacific Northwest before making its way to Moses Lake. In the future, the jet could fly some interesting and longer paths as Boeing gets closer to receiving final certification for the aircraft to enter commercial service.
In the sky, the MAX 10 will undergo the first round of inflight testing and procedures it needs to complete before being fully certified. Boeing has experience with the MAX, having undergone the initial certification process several years ago and then a very rigorous recertification process after the global grounding hit.
According to data from RadarBox.com, the registration of the aircraft is N27751. This aircraft was the first 737 MAX 10 to debut to the public after an employee celebration in late 2019. Now, just over a year and a half later, the jet is taking to the skies as Boeing charts a future away from the MAX groundings.
Data from ch-aviation shows that the test aircraft is supposed to be delivered for passenger flying. It is expected to go to United Airlines, which is a major MAX 10 customer. It is not unusual for test aircraft to end up flying for an airline customer.
About the 737 MAX 10
Boeing launched the 737 MAX 10 at the 2017 Paris Air Show. The aircraft garnered strong commercial interest, and Boeing was happy to offer a larger variant of the MAX family for customers who need the additional seating capacity.
According to Boeing, the aircraft has a maximum capacity of 230 passengers. When outfitted in a two-class layout, Boeing estimates that the plane can carry anywhere from 188 to 204 passengers. This will depend on how customers want to outfit the aircraft.
Boeing has pitched the 737 MAX 10 as a competitor to the Airbus A321neo and a natural extension of any airlines’ 737 MAX fleet. In addition, Boeing believes the jet will offer 5% lower trip costs than its competitors.
While the MAX 10 can certainly compete with the Airbus A321neo on capacity for short- and medium-haul routes, it lacks the ability to do the kind of long-haul flying that the Airbus A321LR and A321XLR can do. Boeing advertises a range of approximately 3,300 nautical miles (6,110 km). Out of New York, the jet can go this far:
As you can see from the above map, this makes the aircraft ideal for running short- and medium-haul missions. The jet can easily do a transcontinental hop and fly passengers to top vacation destinations like Cancun and Punta Cana. Of course, the final range will also depend on how many seats or any potential payload restrictions an airline puts on the aircraft. Time will tell how carriers want to use the MAX 10.
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Major customer: United Airlines
Arguably the most significant customer for the MAX 10, United Airlines is eagerly awaiting the arrival of this jet. Boeing has delayed the aircraft’s introduction in commercial service to 2023.
United Airlines has not released many details about its planned 737 MAX 10 flying. However, it already flies the 737 MAX 9, is gearing up to put the 737 MAX 8 into commercial service and has big plans for its network.
The 737 MAX 10 will help United Airlines increase its gauge across the US and also has the flexibility to do missions that the MAX 9 cannot do. For example, the plane is large enough that United could put lie-flats on the MAX 10.
It has been rumored for a few years that United plans on making the MAX 10 a very premium aircraft, with a subfleet of jets outfitted with lie-flats up front to run premium transcontinental routes in the United States. This would replace some of the Boeing 757 flying the airline is doing between markets like Newark and Los Angeles.
Other major customers for the MAX 10 include Virgin Australia and Copa Airlines. Both of those carriers have been huge 737 customers in the past, and Copa Airlines was the first non-US airline to resume MAX deliveries after the grounding was lifted.
Virgin Australia has also been eagerly awaiting 25 Boeing 737 MAX 10s. It canceled its plans to take the MAX 8 in favor of the MAX 10 during its restructuring.
The first MAX 10s are due at airlines in 2023. After that, the timeline may shift, depending on certification delays or if there is a lingering poor market for travel demand. Nevertheless, the MAX 10 has made its maiden flight and is pushing forward for certification.
Are you glad to see the 737 MAX 10 make its maiden flight? Let us know in the comments!