Boeing Live Event Coverage
At Farnborough, GECAS announces the inevitable: a 737 MAX order
On the second day of the Farnborough Air Show, GECAS -- the aircraft leasing unit of GE -- announced an order for 100 Boeing 737s, including 25 of the current 737NG model and 75 of the forthcoming 737 MAX variant.
Boeing presented this as the second big order of the Air Show. It's nice for Boeing. But in truth, it really isn't such big news.
(At right, Ray Conner, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Norman Liu, CEO of GECAS, make a 737 MAX announcement on Tuesday at the Farnborough Air Show. My photo)
Perhaps more important 737 MAX news Tuesday was the disclosure of new performance guarantees that will provide either an increased payload or an extra 400 - 540 nautical miles (460 - 621 miles) of range, depending on the MAX model.
GECAS chief executive Norman Liu called that a "great development."
But the GECAS sales announcement, like so many media events at the Air Show, is a repackaging of something accomplished some time back and revealed only now.
Realize that GECAS has a policy of supporting its parent company by exclusively buying planes with GE engines.
And with GE the sole engine supplier for the 737 program, whatever number of MAXs Boeing eventually sells, GE will sell more than twice that many engines. (Two on each plane, plus spares and replacements.)
If the MAX is successful, the life of the 737 program is likely to be extended by thousands of airplanes. Think of all those engines and you see why GECAS might want to support the program.
You think? If GECAS doesn't buy the MAX, nobody will buy it.
In addition, today's announcement wasn't even a firm order. GECAS had been among the hundreds of unidentified customers with non-binding "commitments" to buy the 737 MAX.
They still have a non-binding commitment. The only difference is that now we officially know that GECAS is one of the customers. Duh.
Liu said at the signing ceremony that the sales contract will be finalized "in the weeks ahead."
Surely Boeing must have pressed to get him to sign on the dotted line at the Air Show. It's got to be disappointing that he didn't.
Earlier in the day, Boeing vice president Bev Wyse, head of the Renton plant and 737 program leader, made an announcement containing actual news.
The current 737NG is lighter than the rival A320 and the new 737 MAX will be lighter than the new A320neo.
Yet Wyse revealed that Boeing, through structural efficiencies, has also beefed up the allowed maximum take-off weights for the three MAX variants.
Each is 5,000 to 7,000 lbs heavier than the maximum take-off weights of the current 737s.
That means each 737 MAX model, even though heavier than the corresponding current model of the 737NG, can either carry a heavier payload or carry more fuel and so fly farther.
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