Boeing 737 Max, a new generation of this highly successful City Jet.

Boeing 737 Max, a new generation of this highly successful City Jet.

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Boeing 737 Max

As far back as 2005, Boeing initiated project Yellowstone 1 (Y-1) to come up with an updated design building on the Boeing 737 Next Generation family. Incorporating technology from the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the

Norwegian Air International Boeing 737 Max 8.

aim was to achieve fuel savings in the order of 20-25%. However, tests came back with results closer to 10%. It was found that you can’t build a smaller Boeing 787 which is designed for different uses such as lower cycles(take-offs and landings) and carrying different systems for longer flights.

The project was shelved but not abandoned. New technologies had to be developed to enable the concept to become an actuality.

737 Max family
The Boeing 737 Max family of aircraft. Note the new winglets or wing fins. Weight is saved by a less robust structure required for two smaller fins.

On 11 August 2011, the Boeing board approved the 737 Max development project. The new family of Boeing 737s would adopt the same variant numbering system as the 787, namely Boeing 737 Max 7, Boeing 737 Max 8, Boeing 737 Max 9 and Boeing 737 Max10. The main driver, of course, was competition to come up with a newer more economical version of the iconic 737 city jet. Airbus Industrie was well on the way to producing their new A320, the A320 NEO (New Engine Option) which would deliver a more economical version of the popular Airbus that is a direct competitor to the 737. After much research and analysis, it was determined that applying updates, improvements and modifications to the current Boeing 737 model was by far the best option cost wise and also speed to market wise.

The first Boeing 737 Max -8 fuselage completed assembly on 13 August 2015 at the Spirit

Boeing 737-8 MAX Winglet
This view shows the distinctive Boeing 737 MAX winglet. Two smaller winglets mean that there is less weight required than for a more robust single longer span. In addition, it means that a significant amount of wing surface is added whilst still being able to fit into Gate size C at airport terminals.

AeroSystems plant in Wichita, Kansas. This was a test aircraft and was eventually delivered to launch customer Southwest Airlines.  The completed aircraft, named “Spirit of Renton” rolled out of the Boeing Renton Factory on 08 December 2015. Nearly 49 years after the first Boeing 737 took to the air on 09 April 1967. The 737 Max -8 took to the air on its first flight on 29 January 2016.

Boeing 737-9 MAX CFM LEAP-1B
Boeing 737-9 MAX CFM LEAP-1B engine. The chevroned rear of the nacelle, like the Boeing 787, ensures a smooth laminar airflow over the engine casing. This is all part of the 737 MAXs fuel saving economy.

Instrumental to delivering a more economical and powerful 737 is the CFM Leap 1B engine. This new generation engine uses the latest technology to deliver the cost savings that will take the 737 into the 21st Century. However, as has been the problem in the past with the low ground clearance 737, adding a larger engine has its own challenges. If you look at current 737s, like the 737-800 for example, you will notice that the engine nacelle is flattened at the bottom. This is to enable enough ground clearance. The Leap 1B is larger again. To enable it to be fitted to the 737 Max, the engine has been fitted to a pylon that holds the engine further forward from the wing and therefore can be set higher off the ground.  In addition, the nose wheel strut has been extended by 8 inches to lift the engines higher.  The engines being further forward has caused a change to the aircraft dynamics in certain phases of flight. In those flight phases, it was found that the nose of the aircraft might pitch up bringing about the possibility of a stall. To guard against this, Boeing installed a new system called the Manoeuvring Characteristics Argumentation System (MCAS). This system is designed to prevent the possibility of the aircraft entering a stall in the above-mentioned flight phases. The MCAS uses the horizontal stabilizer trim to push the nose of the aircraft down in cases where it senses a high angle of attack that may lead to a stall.

With an eye on cost savings for airlines,  Boeing tried as much as possible to keep cockpit configuration the same as previous models. This way pilots can rotate from previous 737 models to the new Max with minimal retraining required.

The new design has some obvious visual differences which include:

737 Max Features

3d_blue_plane  A change to the tail cone to a more tapered aerodynamic shape. This is part of the design improvement to realise an up to
3d_blue_plane  Boeing 787 like engine nacelles with a scalloped casing which allows for a cleaner airflow and less drag.
3d_blue_plane  A split winglet with fins pointing up and down which reduces weight by a less robust structure required for two smaller fins. It also ensures that the aircraft can still utilise ICAO gate reference C gates ( wingspan – 24m (78.7′) – <36m (118.1′) ) whilst enjoying a greater wing area for higher lift and therefore lower fuel consumption.
3d_blue_plane  Leap-1B engines with a larger fan diameter of 1.76 Metres (69.4 in).
3d_blue_plane  An increase of 8 inches in length to the nose wheel strut to accommodate the larger diameter engines. This ensures a 43CM (17 IN) clearance between the bottom of the engine casing and the runway surface.
3d_blue_plane  A redesigned and lengthened engine pylon to further accommodate the larger engines. The new Leap 1B engines are positioned further forward and slightly higher than their predecessors to accommodate their larger diameter.
3d_blue_plane   A general strengthening of the airframe structure.

A timeline of the Boeing 737 MAX

30 AUG 2011 Launch of the Boeing 737 MAX Project.
23 JUL 2013 Firm configuration of the 737 MAX8 confirmed by Boeing.
SEP 2014 Boeing launches a high-density version of the 737 MAX8, the 737 MAX8 200, which stands for 200 passengers.
13 AUG 2015 The first 737 MAX fuselage was completed at Spirit AeroSystems, Wichita, Kansas.
08 DEC 2015 First 737 MAX8 rolled out at the Boeing Renton Factory.
29 JAN 2016 Maiden flight of the Boeing 737 MAX
08 MAR 2017 The Boeing 737 MAX is awarded F.A.A. Certification.
27 MAR 2017 The Boeing 737 MAX is awarded E.A.S.A. Certification.
06 MAY 2017 The first Boeing 737 MAX is delivered to Malindo Air (Malaysia).
22 MAY 2017 Malindo Air places the first 737 MAX into service as flight OD803 from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore.
19 JUN 2017 Boeing launches the 737 MAX10.
15 JUL 2017 First Trans-Atlantic flight of the 737 MAX by Norwegian Air International. The aircraft was named Sir Freddie Laker.
29 AUG 2017 Launch customer Southwest Airlines takes delivery of their first 737 MAX.
22 NOV 2017 Assembly begins of the first 737 MAX7 test aircraft.
05 FEB 2018 The first 737 MAX7 aircraft rolls out of the Renton factory.
16 MAR 2018 Maiden flight of the Boeing 737 MAX7.
FEB 2018 The configuration of the 737 MAX10 is firmed up.
29 OCT 2018 A 737 MAX8 of Lion Air, flight 610, Reg. PK-LQP, crashed into the Java Sea off Jakarta after a flight of only 13 minutes.
NOV 2018 The first 737 MAX8 200 rolled out of the factory door for Ryan Air. They ordered 135.
13 JAN 2019 Ryan Air’s first 737 MAX8 200 departs Renton.
10 MAR 2019 A 737 MAX8 of Ethiopian Airlines, flight 302, Reg. ET-AVJ, crashed only 6 minutes after departing Addis Ababa.
13 MAR 2019 After several other countries had already banned them, the F.A.A. grounded all 737 MAX aircraft flown by U.S. airlines or from being flown in U.S. and territories airspace. The F.A.A. cited new infomation being the reason, not pressure.
A Boeing 737 Max 9 in Boeing house colours.

Specs for the Boeing 737 Max

Boeing 737 Max
737 Max 7
737 Max 8
737 Max 9
737 Max 10
Maiden Flight 16 March 2018 29 January 2016
13 April 2017  
Launch Delivery Expect 2019 2017 21 March 2018
Launch Airline Southwest Airlines(deferred). Westjet expected 2019.
Malindo Air (Sub. Lion Air)
Lion Air  
First Delivery Expect Jan 2019 16 May 2017
March 2018
Aircraft Orders
50 2038 252  
In Current Service 0 376 0  
Passenger Capacity 172 (Maximum seating)
150 (1-class, average)
138 (2-class, average)
200 (1-class, high volume)
174 (1-class, average)
162 (2-class, average)
220 (1-class, high volume)
204 (1-class, average)
178 (2-class, average)
192-198 (2 Class average) 262-232 1-class average)
Power Plant CFM International
Model Leap-1B
Fan Tip Diameter 1.75 m (69in)
Thrust 26,786–29,317 lbf (119–130 kN)
Fuselage Length 35.6 M (116 ft 8 in) 39.5 M (129 ft 8 in) 42.1 M (138 ft 2 in)  43.8 M (143 ft 8 in)
Overall Height 12.3 M (40 ft 4 in)
Span 35.9 M (117 ft 10 in)
Wing Area 127 m2 (1,370 sq ft)
Overall Height 12.3 M (40ft 4in)
Number of Nose-wheels 2 2 2 2
Number of Main-wheels 4 4 4 4
Seats Abreast 6 6 6 6
Max. Zero Fuel Weight 62,913kg(138,700lb) 65,952kg(145,400lb) 70,987kg(156,500lb)  TBA
Max. Takeoff Weight 80,286kg (177,000lb) 82,191kg (181,200lb) 88,314Kg (194,700lb) TBA
Maximum Landing Weight 66,043kg(145,600lb) 69,309kg(152,800lb) 74,344kg(163,900lb) TBA
Capacity (Litres) 25,817L(6,820 USgal), excluding Auxiliary Centre Tank
Cruise Speed IAS/Mach Mach 0.79 (453 kn / 839 km/h)
Ceiling (Ft) 41,000 ft (12,000 m)
Range with Max Payload(nm) 7,084 Km (3,825 Nm) 6,510 Km (3,515 Nm) 6,510 Km (3,515 Nm) 6,960 Km (3,215 Nm)
Variant 737 MAX 7 737 MAX 8 737 MAX 9 737 MAX 10

If there is more you want to learn about this airliner, please visit: Boeing 737 Home, Boeing 737 Specs, Boeing 737 Order Book, Boeing 737 History, Boeing 737 Assembly and Boeing 737 Interior.
We welcome your comment below, is there more we could be showing or are there topics you would like to see? Thank you.

Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 Reg PK-LQM
Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 Reg PK-LQM with its Leap 1 engines in reverse thrust.

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9 thoughts on “Boeing 737 Max, a new generation of this highly successful City Jet.”

  1. Lion Air flight JT610 which tragically plunged into the sea soon after takeoff from Jakarta will have both Lion Air and Boeing nervous. Whilst the Boeing 737 is a tried and true aircraft model, this new version, the 737 MAX is still relatively new. With any new technology, there are risks in the early days as we saw with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner batteries.
    It is too early to make any assumptions but rest assured, this will have the full attention of the aviation world and thankfully now the flight and voice recorders have been recovered we may start to get answers sooner than later.

  2. I am surprised by the reaction of Boeing. This is a clear case of malfunctioning of the latest model of the system to detect and correct stalling. All evidence points to the fact that the new system is dangerous. It detects a stall and “corrects” it by getting the airliner going nose down. All 737 models so far had older models of the equipment functioning well, and all that Boeing has to do is to replace the new system with the old one and the problem is solved.

    • Hi John,
      Yes, from where we stand it looks like a clear case of both Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes being identical. One would assume, and this is just an opinion, that if there is any doubt about an airliner’s safety that it would be grounded until the cause was 100% established, understood and corrected. In the world of economics, however, this is just not feasible. Those airliners cost millions, and to have them stand idle can drive an airline to the wall. Not to mention what harm it can do to a new line of airliners, such as the 737 MAX, making its debut in the market.
      Boeing maintain that their decision to ground the type was not driven by public and industry pressure so much as a new discovery. It seems there was commonality between both crashes in position they found the jack-screw in, that controls the trim of the horizontal stabiliser. No doubt we will hear more about that.
      The reason this new system, the MCAS as described above, is in place at all is to accommodate the new powerful economical Leap 1 engine. So it is a case of new technology requiring other new technology to make it possible.
      I have no doubt that the 737 MAX will go on to be a very successful and popular aircraft. Just look back at the McDonnell Douglas DC10. It had a very bad safety record to start, with repeat accidents caused by the cargo door. It went on to outsell its rival the Lockheed L1011.

      Cheers Peter

  3. My concern begins with, the need for a corrective device, to avert a potential stall. Have the flight characteristics of: the early Boeing 737 ( P&W JT-8d 14,000 Lb thrust class engines ) Vs the Boeing 737 Max 8 ( CFM Leap 1B 26,000 to 29,000 Lb thrust class engines ) varied to the point where the aircraft can become uncontrollable: If so what is the critical difference. I am of the understanding, the Max 8 engines were repositioned. The engines were moved foreward and upward on the wing/engine pylon: which allows for the needed ground clearance. I would think that these changes have altered the weight and balance factor of the Max 8. This factor can altar the flight characteristics of the aircraft, creating all sorts of abnormalities including violent stalls. If this is the case, a fix would be extremely expensive.
    Many years ago, my flight instructor said: no matter what, maintain control of the aircraft. If an airplane has violent characteristics under normal flight conditions, it should be grounded. Recovering from a stall is not a difficult maneuver. I can honestly say, I have never experienced a stall without intentionally entering one, for an intential aerobatic maneuver.

    • Hi P. Anderson.
      yes it certainly seems that the placement of the Leap 1B further forward and higher has altered the balance characteristic of the aircraft. Boeing, obviously, were well across this as being a potential risk to normal flight operations and added MCAS. One has to wonder how much the flight characteristics were changed by the change of engine placement. It was evidently enough to warrant a new system to guard against the perhaps inevitable onset of a stall situation. It is unfortunate that in the case of both Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines, the onset of the situation was in the early climb phase, so there was little opportunity to rectify the situation due to the proximity of the ground. Reports say that the Lion Air 737 MAX experienced instability problems on its previous day flight from Bali to Jakarta, but an experienced pilot who was riding jump seat was able to overcome the situation. I know it is expensive, but it still amazes me that after fixing whatever it is they fixed after the inbound Bali flight, the aircraft was not flown for testing prior to pressing it back into service.

      I too have only ever done intentional stalls, at a safe height. There is nothing so useless as altitude above you and runway behind you.
      Cheers Peter

  4. Honestly, I am tired of hearing all of the excuses from Boeing, as to why their 737 Max has failed to meet expectations. They continue to point to the failure of the MCAS to function properly. Why do we continue to add all these devices to the aircraft, to compensate for some failure on the part of the pilot, to fly his airplane. I will go along with the Stick Shaker, but they have now learned to disable it.

    I will not soon forget, the pilot and his co-pilot, that dredged up the Florida Everglades, after just leaving Miami International. Instead of flying the airplane, both pilots were distracted by a red landing gear light. That was an expensive $00.10 cent light.

    And then there was the Air Florida crash, that should never have happened. I was looking down toward Washington National airport, from Crystal City when the jet slammed into the 14th street bridge. The 2” of snow on the ground, had brought the city to a screeching halt. As the local radio station described the crash, In my mind I had already drawn a conclusion, as to what had happened. None of the other jets using the runways, had problems operating out of National, just this one particular jet. They were unable to accelerate to a proper take of speed: WHY…They were following recommended manufacturer settings, and still could not accelerate…WHY….incorrect N1 & N2 engine compressor spool readings….WHY…someone had failed to turn on the probe heat switch, on the inlet engine instrument probe. If the power levers had been advanced to the stops, none of this would have happened, a lack of common sense. These P&W engines were designed in an emergency, to safely operate above recommended limits. Having been involved in their design, I have a personal knowledge of these engines.

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