Inside the Boeing 737 MAX 10 test plane at Farnborough

  • 787-8 Dreamliner
    Boeing

    Stock code:
    BA

    Creation date :
    1916-07-15

    CEO:
    Dave Calhoun

    Head office location:
    Chicago, United States

    Key product lines:
    Boeing 737, Boeing 747, Boeing 757, Boeing 767, Boeing 777, Boeing 787

    Type of company:
    Planner

Boeing took the opportunity to introduce two new aircraft at the recent Farnborough International Airshow – the 777X and the 737 MAX 10. The 777X may have garnered more excitement as the latest widebody and largest aircraft twin engine of all time. The 737 MAX 10, however, attracted large orders, despite ongoing problems. Simple Flying was invited aboard to take a look at the new aircraft.

The Boeing 737 MAX 10

The Boeing 737 MAX 10 is the latest and greatest addition to the 737 MAX family. It promises more efficient operation than previous MAX aircraft and a higher capacity of up to 230 passengers.

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The 737 MAX 10 is the largest member of the series. Photo: Justin Hayward/Simple Flight

The 737 MAX 10 went to Farnborough with some uncertainty about its popularity. It faces potential FAA certification issues. If not certified by the end of 2022, the aircraft will need a major system overhaul to meet new cockpit alerting requirements. This isn’t just an expensive design change – it will affect commonalities with other members of the MAX family. Discussions are underway regarding certification by the end of the year or the establishment of a waiver for the MAX 10.

Despite these uncertainties, the aircraft generated a lot of interest at the show. The largest order came from Delta Air Lines. He announced a firm order on the first day of the show for 100 aircraft with 30 additional options. Other MAX orders/confirmations followed throughout the show from Aviation Capital Group, 777 Partners, Qatar Airways and ANA.


Delta and Boeing sign at Farnborough. Photo: Boeing

N27752 at Farnborough

Boeing has only completed two 737 MAX 10 aircraft so far. Both are being used as test aircraft and are ultimately intended for delivery to United Airlines. The aircraft that flew to Farnborough was N27752. It flew over Seattle to Reykjavik on July 11 and continued to Farnborough on July 13. It returned on July 22 and 23 and, as of August 3, had not resumed flight testing from Seattle,

Externally, the most obvious difference of the 737 MAX 10 is of course its size. It is the largest MAX aircraft, increasing in length by 66 inches (168 centimeters) compared to the MAX 9. This will typically allow for two additional rows of seats.

The Boeing 737 MAX 10 spent over a week in Farnborough. Photo: Justin Hayward/Simple Flight

Another major difference from the MAX 10 is its main landing gear. A longer fuselage requires more takeoff clearance to avoid a tailstrike. The landing gear could not be lengthened on the 737 MAX 10 without affecting commonality with the rest of the family. The solution was to add the ability for the landing gear to extend in rotation using a spring-loaded lever. It then folds up for storage in the same size wheel wells as on other MAX aircraft.

The engines on the 737 MAX 10 are CFM LEAP 1-B engines – the same ones used on the entire 737 MAX series.

The MAX 10’s LEAP engines. Photo: Justin Hayward/Simple Flight

Inside the Boeing 737 MAX 10

When you get on board, you immediately see that this is a test aircraft. There is no galley or entry seating, just empty space forward, standard crew seating, and test equipment.

On board the 737 MAX 10. Photo: Justin Hayward / Simple Flying

Banks of equipment and workstations certainly feel more cramped than in the huge space of the Boeing 777X test plane, but the functionality is essentially the same.

The interior configured for testing. Photo: Justin Hayward/Simple Flight

Each workstation has data feeds to access flight information and aircraft sensor data and can be configured for any of the tests to be performed. There are also banks of recorders to store all the data produced during the test flights – essential, of course, for later analysis.

There are several similar job positions for flight engineers. Photo: Justin Hayward/Simple Flight

This equipment bank records and stores all test flight data. Photo: Justin Hayward/Simple Flight

Water tanks take up a lot of space in the front and back. There is also extensive piping throughout the aircraft. This is standard on test aircraft and is used to simulate different loads and to shift the aircraft’s center of gravity for testing. Boeing uses tanks on the 737 MAX (as well as the 777X currently under test) from Seattle-based manufacturer Alaskan Copper Works. Boeing previously used beer kegs (modified and specially produced) before switching to these differently designed containers.


The 737 MAX 10 water ballast system. Photo: Justin Hayward/Single Flight

It is difficult from a test aircraft to see what will happen in passenger use. The seats on board are not typical of the aircraft – they are just recycled spares installed by Boeing for use by personnel. There is, however, a small clue to this plane from the installed Space Bins. These were introduced in 2016 as an option for the 737 NG and 737 MAX aircraft, and (according to Boeing) allow 50% more bags to be stored. They are designed to accommodate standard-size cabin baggage vertically. On the MAX 9, for example, this increases bag capacity from 132 to 198.

The 737 MAX 10 Space Bins. Photo: Justin Hayward/Simple Flight

The cockpit of the Boeing 737 MAX 10

The cockpit design and layout is the same as the rest of the MAX series. This is critical for the pilot community (both in the 737 MAX series and with minimal Next Generation series conversion). This is the issue of the certification backlog – if substantial changes need to be made to the cockpit, it could be considered a different type for pilot certification.

The only difference on the 737 MAX 10, which the onboard test pilots discussed with us, is an additional display for flight/airport maps. This is currently being tested but should remain so.

The cockpit of the 737 MAX 10. Photo: Justin Hayward/Single Flight

It was great to be able to see aboard the Boeing 737 MAX 10 just as Boeing was confirming more orders for it. Feel free to discuss the differences with the larger MAX plane, or its potential issues, further down in the comments.

Jack C. Nugent