The Boeing 737 MAX Family – How The Different Models Compare

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The Boeing 737 MAX family is the latest generation of the popular Boeing 737. But how does each MAX aircraft compare to each other, and which is the most popular? Let’s explore.

737 MAX
The Boeing 737 MAX (sans Boeing 737 MAX 10, which was developed later). Photo: Boeing

How many Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are there?

There are four different versions of the fourth generation of Boeing 737 aircraft.

  • Boeing 737 MAX 7 – The next version of the 737-700.
  • Boeing 737 MAX 8 – The next version of the 737-800 (the most popular 737).
  • Boeing 737 MAX 9 – The next version of the 737-900.
  • Boeing 737 MAX 10 – A new version of the 737 to compete with the Airbus A321neo.

Now, it would be amiss to write this article without acknowledging the current grounding of the family and the crashes. The plane cannot fly passenger operations; however, the series still offers a diverse range of options for airlines when flights resume that can be analyzed today. The EASA and FAA have started certification of the aircraft, and an answer for its return to service will be known soon. 

We begin by looking at the passengers.

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Boeing 737 MAX 7
The MAX has undergone FAA flight tests. Photo: Getty Images

Passengers

The Boeing 737 MAX family has a diverse range of passenger capacities depending on the routes they are designed for.

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  • Boeing 737 MAX 7 – 138 – 153 seats in a two-class configuration (depending on legroom) and up to a maximum of 172 passengers.
  • Boeing 737 MAX 8 – 162 – 178 passengers in two classes, or 210 maximum capacity.

There is a special version of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 called the MAX 200 (or 8200 officially), which can seat up to 210 passengers (configured for 197) on short-haul routes. Low-cost carrier Ryanair has made an order for over 100 of this airframe to use in its cross-continental fleet, were the additional 20 seats to the base 737 MAX 8 would make a big difference.

Ryanair, Boeing 737 MAX, Refunds
Ryanair ordered a particular type of Boeing 737 MAX Photo: Getty Images
  • Boeing 737 MAX 9 – Getting bigger, the 737 MAX 9 can seat 178 – 193 passengers or up to 220.
  • Boeing 737 MAX 10 – The biggest version of the Boeing 737 MAX can comfortably carry 188 – 204 passengers or up to 230 in a single configuration.

We have seen that typically airlines are attracted to the 162-180 range of passengers, and the 737 MAX 8 offers the perfect balance of seats to cost ratio.

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But how far do these planes fly?

Range

Looking at the range, we can see how each aircraft in the family is different:

  • Boeing 737 MAX 7 – The smallest MAX aircraft can fly 3,850 nautical miles (7,130 km). As it is lighter than the 737 MAX 8 but has the same engines and wing, it can fly slightly further.
  • Boeing 737 MAX 8 – This version of the MAX can fly 3,550 nautical miles (6,570 km).

There is a proposed (but yet unbuilt) extended-range version of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft called the catchy name 737-8ERX. It would compete with the Airbus A321neo and use the Boeing 737 MAX 9 middle section, to give it a range of 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km). It would only seat 150 passengers, however.

Boeing 737 MAX getty images
Each version of the Boeing 737 MAX has different range specifications. Photo: Getty Images
  • Boeing 737 MAX 9 – The 737 MAX 9 can fly 3,550 nautical miles (6,570) with an additional fuel tank.
  • Boeing 737 MAX 10 – The biggest version can fly 3,300 nautical miles (6,110) with an additional fuel tank.

We can see that all versions of the MAX aircraft can fly at least 3,300 nautical miles, with a trade-off beginning between higher passenger numbers (with the 737 MAX 10) and range. The particular version of the 737-8ERX would allow for the most extended range but might cost too much in terms of capacity.

What do you think? Which version of the Boeing 737 MAX is your favorite? Let us know in the comments.

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