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?
What are the main differences?
First, let’s look at the third generation 737 aircraft side by side.
|737-600||108||3,235 nmi (5,991 km)|
|737-700||128||3,010 nmi (5,570 km)|
|737-800||160||2,935 nmi (5,436 km)|
|737-900ER||177||2,950 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).
Now let us compare it to the 737 MAX series (the fourth generation of Boeing 737).
|737 MAX 7||153||3,850 nmi / 7,130 km|
|737 MAX 8||178||3,550 nmi / 6,570 km|
|737 MAX 9||193||3,550 nmi / 6,570 km|
|737 MAX 10||204||3,300 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.
Note, there is also a 737 MAX 200, a high capacity version of the 8 that has been secured by 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:
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.
So which is more popular for airlines?
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.
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.