Boeing Live Event Coverage
Steve Udvar-Hazy orders the MAX, rings the NYSE opening bell from Farnborough
Aviation industry leader Steve Udvar-Hazy gave his important imprimatur to Boeing's 737 MAX early Monday, then conjured a little extra publicity.
Steve Udvar-Hazy, chief executive of Air Lease Corp. (ALC), shares a laugh with new Boeing Commercial airplanes chief Ray Conner just before ringing the opening bell Monday morning on the New York Stock Exchange, via a televised link from the Farnborough Air Show. My photo.
Standing on a platform alongside Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Ray Conner, Udvar-Hazy rang a bell set up for the TV cameras and opened trading on Wall Street.
The occasion was a big ALC order, for 75 Boeing 737 MAXs: 60 of the 737 MAX 8s and 15 of the larger 737 MAX 9s.
The order has a list price of $7.2 billion, though after standard discounts, based on market value data from consulting firm Avitas, the real value is about $3.8 billion.
Udvar-Hazy piloted his own Gulfstream jet to get to Farnborough with his wife Chris.
Interviewed after the bell-ringing, Udvar-Hazy talked about both the MAX and Boeing's future widebody, the 777X.
He said that though he had initially been skeptical of the MAX, he was won over by improvements Boeing made in the original design, particularly in the LEAP engine from CFM International.
"The airplane has evolved," said Udvar-Hazy. "They made significant improvements in the engine core."
He said the MAX engine is different from the version of the LEAP engine that CFM designed for the Airbus A320neo, and is optimized for the Boeing jet.
He said he thinks the MAX and the neo are now "very close" in fuel efficiency, and that the jets will have to fly before we find out which might be a tad better.
Udvar-Hazy said he expects Boeing to make a firm decision on its next big widebody jet project, the 777X, sometime next year.
He said with certainty that if Boeing puts a new wing on the plane, as expected, it will be a composite wing, not aluminum.
Airbus is still refining the rival A350-1000 concept, which is slightly smaller than the 777, Udvar-Hazy said. But he said that though Boeing must watch what Airbus is up to, its decision on what to do should not rest on that.
"Boeing should do what's right for the next generation of the 777, and Airbus should do its thing," Udvar-Hazy said. "I don't think the two are necessarily connected."
Earlier in the day, Boeing's Conner said at his first press conference that he is not holding to the end-of-year deadline for the 777X decision set by his predecessor Jim Albaugh.
But he insisted that shouldn't be interpreted as any backing away from the commitment to go forward with the jet.
"When we get the airplane right, that's when we will go forward," said Conner. "We're more committed than ever."
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