The first United Airlines 737 MAX 10 has been spotted in Seattle, though delivery is still about a year away and could be complicated by regulatory challenges. Still, United intends a premium sub fleet of this aircraft with lie-flat seating in business class that will eventually replace the aging fleet of 757-200 planes currently operating on transcontinental and select European routes.
United Airlines 737 MAX 10 – What We Know So Far
Boeing has over 700 orders for the 737 MAX 10, but United Airlines is first in line. The Chicago-based carrier has ordered over 200 aircraft. This week, the first aircraft (registration N27753) bearing United’s blue livery was spotted at Boeing Field in Seattle.
Boeing faces a regulatory hurdle thanks to the 2020 Aircraft Safety and Certification Reform Act. Although Boeing is currently under a two-year enforcement waiver, that is set to expire later this year and if not renewed or approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before the waiver deadline (which is unlikely), Boeing will have to upgrade the flight deck to add new safety features.
Boeing CEO David Calhoun has warned:
“If I lose the fight to avoid upgrading the flight deck, I lose the fight, and the MAX 10 would not be developed.”
I tend to think that is a bluff, but scrapping the 737 MAX 10 program could deal a fatal blow to United Next, am ambitious plans to grow United Airlines’ fleet rapidly over the next five years.
What Will The United 737 MAX 10 Look Like Onboard?
The first 737 MAX 10 will be a premium service aircraft, currently targeted for a July 2023 delivery. Ultimately, United has ordered 50 in a premium configuration (up from the original order of 34) and 182 in a domestic configuration. The domestic configuration deliveries will begin in July 2024.
The move signals that the 737 MAX 10 will replace the 757-200 fleet and be used for domestic flights, including transcontinental and Hawaiian service.
A leaked LOPA (layout of passenger accommodations) suggests the aircraft will feature 22 lie-flat herringbone-style seats in business class. Patrick Quayle, United’s Senior Vice President, Global Network Planning and Alliances, has confirmed the aircraft will have lie-flat seating that will vary from the current Polaris business class seat.
Meanwhile, United plans to use the Airbus A321XLR for international service.
The first United Airlines 737 MAX 10 is out of the paint shop, but regulatory hurdles mean delivery is still many months (or years) away. United will take delivery of premium-heavy MAX 10s first, with the goal of replacing its aging 757-200 fleet. Absent the dire warning from the Boeing CEO, United’s fleet of narrowbody aircraft will grow much younger and fuel-efficient in the years ahead and passengers can look forward to modern cabins with seatback screens in all cabins.