LONDON – After a long 20-month process, following regulatory scrutiny due to the crisis, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved the design of the Boeing 737MAX200 Gamechanger variant, according to a report from Reuters (2021).
The MAX8200 is the first Boeing aircraft to be certified by the FAA since the 737MAX returned to service last December.
This variant came about to the public after Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair placed an initial order in 2014 for a hundred units of the type, with the option to purchase an additional 100, which has now turned into a firm order for 210 (Ryanair, 2020).
There have of course been delivery delays to this program due to the regulatory pressures placed on Boeing about safety of the aircraft following the accidents that came from Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 which killed 346 people.
The FAA added in a statement that the MAX200 “incorporated all of the design improvements that were part of the 20-month review of the 737MAX, including those related to Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS)”.
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary at the time of ordering more MAX200s back in December 2020 remained very confident over the aircraft.
“We are pleased and proud to place this enlarged order with Boeing, who have successfully completed the return to service of the Boeing MAX aircraft. The Boeing MAX is a fabulous aircraft with more seats, more legroom, lower fares, lower fuel consumption, and it sets incredible environmental standards, including 40% less noise and lower CO2 emissions.
We hope to take delivery of at least 50 of these aircraft in 2021, subject to Boeing recovering its manufacturing output to deliver them. For as long as the Covid-19 pandemic depresses air travel, we will use these new aircraft to replace some of our older Boeing NG fleet, which will remain grounded until pre-Covid demand returns. But as soon as the Covid-19 virus recedes – and it will in 2021 with the rollout of multiple effective vaccines – Ryanair and our partner airports across Europe will – with these environmentally efficient aircraft – rapidly restore flights and schedules, recover lost traffic and help the nations of Europe recover their tourism industry, and get young people back to work across the cities, beaches, and ski resorts of the EU.
We sincerely thank our partners in Boeing, who have worked closely with us over the last 18 months to reschedule aircraft deliveries, to provide fair compensation to reflect those costs which Ryanair has incurred through these delivery delays, and to agree on this new enlarged aircraft order. We are working closely with Boeing and our senior pilot professionals to assist our regulator EASA to certify these aircraft in Europe, and to complete the training of our pilots and crews across our 3 new Boeing MAX simulators in Dublin and Stansted.
We are extremely grateful to our shareholders who have recently supported a €1.25 billion fundraising, without which we could not have placed this large but very timely aircraft order during a once-in-a-century downturn in the airline industry. We believe our people will enjoy flying these exciting new aircraft, which will, we hope, allow us to recruit/train many thousands of new pilots and cabin crew over the next 5 years. The Board and people of Ryanair are confident that our customers will love these new aircraft, they will enjoy the new interiors, the more generous legroom, the lower fuel consumption, and the quieter noise performance, but most of all, they will love the lower fares, which these aircraft will enable Ryanair to offer not just in 2021, but for the next decade, as Ryanair leads a strong recovery of Europe’s aviation and tourism industry out of the 2020 Covid-19 crisis.”Michael O’Leary, Ryanair CEO, December 2020, https://corporate.ryanair.com/news/ryanair-orders-75-boeing-max-8200-aircraft-210-in-total/
With the designs now approved by the FAA, this will of course pave the way for the aircraft to begin deliveries. Despite the pandemic, Ryanair has been pushing for deliveries to begin.
Prior to the pandemic, the Irish low-cost carrier was set to handle 150 million passengers in 2020, but of course this was reduced due to the shutdown of borders across Europe.
The Gamechanger aircraft will join the fleet of 737-800s it has in its fleet already as well as replacing some of the older variants of that aircraft. With the Gamechanger able to carry 200 passengers, being 11 more than the -800s, it will provide further revenue possibilities for the carrier going forward.
With the pandemic also reducing the amount of income consumers will have across Europe, Ryanair can use this to their advantage to encourage holiday travel, but at an affordable price.
It will be interesting to see how the Gamechangers will work in the Ryanair network, and whether this increased level of confidence displayed by the airline in the aircraft will work to their advantage.