The Boeing 737 MAX 8 Vs The 737-800 – What Is The Difference?

With all the discussions about the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft and whether or not it is safe to fly, you’d be forgiven for wondering what exactly the difference is between the newer 737 MAX and the older (and seemingly more reliable) 737-800.

But you might be surprised to learn that the 737 MAX series is actually the fourth generation of the Boeing 737 plane (with the 737-800 being the third). As such, it has the latest technologies, exemplary fuel efficiency and more advanced construction than its predecessors. But does this make it any better?

the MAX 9
The Boeing MAX 9. Photo: Boeing

What are the main differences?

First, let’s look at the third generation 737 aircraft side by side.

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ModelPassengers (2-Class)Range
737-6001083,235 nmi (5,991 km)
737-7001283,010 nmi (5,570 km)
737-8001602,935 nmi (5,436 km)
737-900ER1772,950 nmi (5,460 km)

As we can see, the range of the plane goes down the bigger it is (until you get to the last extended range model, the 737-900ER).

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Now let us compare it to the 737 MAX series (the fourth generation of Boeing 737).

ModelPassengersRange
737 MAX 71533,850 nmi / 7,130 km
737 MAX 81783,550 nmi / 6,570 km
737 MAX 91933,550 nmi / 6,570 km
737 MAX 102043,300 nmi / 6,110 km

Whilst the same patterns exist as above, it is clear that the base range and carrying capacity of these aircraft are far superior to previous models. What is rather interesting is the difference between the 737 MAX 8 and the MAX 9, with the 9 having more passengers at no cost to the range.

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Note, there is also a 737 MAX 200, a high capacity version of the 8 that has been secured by Ryanair.

Ryanair B737 Max
A mockup of the B737-8-200 Interior. Photo: Ryanair

If we were to compare the 737 MAX 8 directly to the 737-800 on numbers alone, then you can see that with a longer range and ability to carry 18 more full fare paying customers, it’s a clear winner.

The cost of the 737 MAX vs the 737-800

According to Boeing, here are the list prices for each aircraft:

Old Series:
700: $89.1
800: $106.1
900ER: $112.6

New Series:
MAX 7: $99.7 million
MAX 8: $121.6M
MAX 9: $128.9M
MAX 10: $134.9M as of 2019

As we can see, the -8 does cost a little bit more than the 800, in fact only the MAX 7 comes close to the affordability of the older model. All these new gizmos don’t come cheap, and Boeing knows that in order to get their customers to upgrade their fleet (like Southwest who have a massive 280 order on the books), they need to provide a significant upgrade over the aircraft currently in use.

Looking at actual orders, side by side we have

737-800: 4,991 orders
737 MAX 8: 2,639 orders

The 737-800 has been on sale since 1993 (when it was first announced) giving an average order of 192 aircraft a year over 26 years. The Boeing 737 MAX 8 has fewer total orders but has only been around for eight years since 2011. This makes an higher average, at 330 orders per year.

As such, whilst the 737 MAX 8 is more expensive than the order 737-800, it is easily far superior. Apart from the two tragic incidents that we’re hearing so much about right now.

MAX-7 Paint Hangar Rollout for Employee Rollout Ceremony
Boeing 737 MAX will undergo several design changes due to recent fatal crashes. Source: Boeing

Barring any unfortunate outcomes to the MAX program due to current events, Boeing intends to replace the 737 series with a fifth generation in 2030, based on the technology used in the 787 and 777X.

What do you think? Which plane is better? Let us know in the comments. 

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Nigel

I always enjoy reading articles on Simple Flying…they’re always so upbeat 🙂 In this particular case, I note that you’ve concentrated on performance differences between the two planes, and have been basically silent on structural/mechanical differences, so I wanted to pitch-in the following (no pun intended). Many analyses of the… Read more »

kelvin

I have a better way of preventing Fatality,even wen the plan crashed. I feel we can come up with the system that we can put on the seats that can be actuated by the passenger,and when actuated the all 3seats goes down and open as a parachutes.later after of open… Read more »

kelvin

am a mechamical technician specialized in hydrolics what you have done is enough we just need to work on few things.let us think of masseurs on how to avoid fatality when the airbus develop fort and its about to clash? there is indeed something that can be done. yes we… Read more »

John

To add to what was said about the height, I am very leery of the extended landing gear setup that they came up with for the height gain. Having a double hinged extension just seems problematic from the start. But that’s how they had to design it to keep the… Read more »

Marian

I do not care how superior Max 8 is . What is important how safe it is.

tom

I just booked a flight to Vegas on a Boeing 737 – it’s not listed as a max 8 – anyone know if it’s grounded? or safe?

james

Good evening,
I have one question about the 737. There is an also b737 called NG (New Generation). This 737NG as its name suggests is built around a flight desk of computers screens essentially…Is it similar to the b737MAX 8 and the others serial b737MAX. Thank you for your answers.

Thomas

I think the model numbers on your second table are off… The 738 Max 8?

george glass

So what I’m reading between the lines of Nigel’s post is that the aircraft is either statically or dynamically unstable – not a great way to design an aircraft!

TIMOTH t thoutty

i think if everybody jumps out the crashing plane 3 second b4 it hits the ground the way bugs bunny does it then everybody lives fine

visitor

the 737-800 looks more fly-worthy than the new max-8. maybe it burns more fuel, but it looks more unified and safer.

Andy

The Max 8 is getting orders because the remaing B757-200 in world airline fleets are getting worn out with no modern direct replacement. The 737 is way over stretched and Airbus have had no need to compromise by making the cockpit controls legacy training compatible.

Alex

Could someone answer my naïve questions? Are engineering schools still teaching that good engineering is to keep it simple? What we see here appears that a solution to a problem creates another problem: Putting a larger engine forward (because of undercarriage clearance) changes the “operational characteristics”, so MCAS is installed… Read more »

Laura zhang

pursuit of maxmizing the profit is the most u**y par of capitalism and the root cause of the fatality.

Tom Houston

Yea they said The Hindenburg was state of the art and safe also.
They said even God himself could not sink the Titanic.
Here in Houston we had a Boeing 767 come crashing nose down just before that last
Boeing 737 Max 8.
I Think Boeing has a big problem going on.

randon commenter

What does it take to undergo a “type certification” versus a new design certification? I’m guessing a type certification is far easier, faster and less costly. With the movement of the engine and thus the plans center of gravity, If wondering if the FAA certification rules need to be amended.

domenico bruschi

I have just come back home on a flight Bologna /Sharm Egypt. On the way to Sharm I flew on a Boeing 737- 800. Beautiful plane wit lots of space but the noise of the engines was terrible. On the return flight I flew on an Airbus 320, no noise… Read more »

Danne

vi ska flyga 737 -800 Stockholm-Alicante t o r hur ska vi tänka ok ett flyg bara eller boka om till annat plan???

George Metaxas

To have the airplane the tedency to nose up after fitting the larger engines, the center of gravity should have been moved backwards. Now if the new engines were positionsed a little forward and upward, as it is mentionned, how that could have been possible? Or maybe the engines have… Read more »

terry

How could you say this “As such, whilst the 737 MAX 8 is more expensive than the order 737-800, it is easily far superior.”

When its so obvious that Boeing made the 787 Max unflyable by design and use software to correct it and make it flyable ?

Birendra

More than 300 lives in 2 flights is not just an incident bro.

George Metaxas

Well, it seems that the problem of the aft CG was a result of lenghening the aircraft, and that inspite of moving the engines a little forward on the wing.

Dean F Minzner

The CG was changed with the new engines and lengthening the fuselage. But that’s not what causes the pitch-up. The shape of the engines produces lift. Putting them further forward causes the pitch-up.

RW

While the two 737 Max incidents are tragic, the reality is that people have short memories and will eventually forget about the incidents, assuming Boeing has a near “bullet-proof” fix. The A320 was plagued with problems in the early days, including one crash during an airshow with the press and… Read more »

Jim

The internet never worked on the Max 8 on any of my Southwest flights. I dreaded boarding those planes. Several times flight attendants said the WiFi interferes with the captains radio.
That plane has some issues

Stuffed Sardine

And they don’t care about passenger comfort. Being crammed in with more people, more uncomfortable for all, plus tinier bathrooms, etc, is a pathetic way of prioritizing the profit over the safety and comfort of the consumer. Just because someone will buy it doesn’t mean you should build it.

Emma

Just stop killing people with your boeings one life lost is worth more than those d**n things of yours so just discard all of them

Scot Cannon

So what is the technical difference for the MAX, why is it more efficient? Did they make the engines bigger again so they could bypass more air? That is how they have been making planes more efficient for several decades now, how do they know they can’t make the engines… Read more »