Still pressured by public opinion about the 737 grounding, Boeing made a discreet presentation of the MAX 10, the largest ever-developed version of its most popular passenger jet.
At 43 meters in length and capable of carrying up to 230 passengers at a range of 3,300nm (6,100 km), the new aircraft has the difficult task of stopping the advance of the A321neo in its extended range LR and XLR variants.
“Today is not just about a new airplane. It’s about the people who design, build and support it, ”said Mark Jenks, vice president and general manager of the 737 program. “This team’s relentless focus on safety and quality shows the commitment we have to our airline customers and every person who flies on a Boeing airplane.”
However, the 737 MAX 10 is perhaps the clearest indication that the commercial jet program is on edge. To accommodate the increased fuselage, Boeing had to develop yet another unusual adaptation to the aircraft, a telescopic landing gear.
Since the 737 is a low-rise aircraft, the longer fuselage would cause the tail to hit the ground on takeoff. Since altering the landing gear set was considered prohibitive because it affected commonality with the other jet series, the planemaker opted to extend the landing gear to the ground to keep the plane at a proper height.
In addition, the 737 MAX 10 has some enhancements like less aerodynamic drag wings and extra emergency doors. Combined with the new LEAP-1B engines and sharklet winglets, the jet is able to reduce fuel consumption by about 20%.
Boeing does not yet know when the 737 MAX 10 will make its maiden flight, but it will take place in 2020. The development program, however, will already incorporate the changes adopted in the other MAX family members following the fatal crashes.
The 737 MAX 10 currently has 550 purchase intentions from 20 companies, a good sign that Boeing needs a larger jet to take on Airbus. However, the emergence of the study for the Future Small Airplane (FSA) may mean that the US manufacturer will finally be able to start a project from scratch for a new narrowbody jet. With so many adaptations, the 737 has already accomplished its mission with praise.