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Boeing defends 737 Max 10 after lessors demur

A day after two lessors held back from endorsing the 737 Max 10X, a top Boeing executive defended the company’s proposed double-stretch of its re-engined single-aisle now being offered to customers.

The 737 Max 10X will provide “better economics than anything out there in its size”, says Keith Leverkuhn, vice-president and general manager of Boeing’s 737 programme.

The superior economics include the best trip and seat-mile costs for an aircraft in its size class, Leverkuhn told reporters on a conference call on 8 March.

Boeing scheduled the call with Leverkuhn on 7 March, only hours after a panel of top aircraft leasing company executives questioned Boeing’s tactics in proposing the 737 Max 10X.

Asked by a moderator at the ISTAT Americas conference about his impressions of the 230-seat concept, Air Lease Corp executive chairman Steven Udvar-Hazy suggested the 737 Max 10X exists only because of the failure of the 737 Max 9 to prove competitive with the Airbus A321neo, which owns a nearly five-to-one sales advantage over the -9.

“From all appearances, when you talk to airlines, the concept of another stretch to the 737 is really a reaction to the success of the A321neo. It is a way to protect some level of market share in that 200-seat-plus category,” Hazy says.

Aengus Kelly, chief executive and executive director of AerCap, also held back from praising the 737 Max 10X, noting that it remains an open question whether any variant will be successful besides the 737 Max 8.

Leasing companies are always a difficult audience to please when a manufacturer adds another new variant to an aircraft family. As Kelly notes, each new variant further narrows the potential market for the aircraft, making it harder on leasing companies to attract the largest volume of customers.

For his part, Leverkuhn brushed off any hinted criticisms of the 737 Max 10X, saying the aircraft also has received praise from some airlines looking for the most economical product.

“This is all about the feedback we’re getting form the customers,” Leverkuhn says. “They like the size and they also like the tremendous efficiency that we’re gaining.”

Separately, Boeing expects to receive type certification of the 737 Max 8 “imminently”, Leverkuhn says. Boeing met with the US Federal Aviation Administration’s type certification board on 7 March, marking the last step in the process.

Deliveries of the first 737 Max 8 should begin in the second quarter to multiple customers, Leverkuhn says.

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