Late on Wednesday, the FAA certified the 8200 sub-variant of the 737 MAX 8 aircraft. This is the aircraft ordered by the Ryanair group. But not just them!
In a statement, the FAA had this to say about this newer version of the aircraft:
“The Federal Aviation Administration approved the design for the Boeing 737-8200, which is part of the Boeing 737 MAX series. The 737-8200 incorporated all of the design improvements that were part of the 20-month review of the 737 MAX.”
Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary mentioned last week that he anticipated the FAA to certify the 737 MAX 8200 this week. He expected approval from EASA and CAA in Europe to come soon afterwards – perhaps within another week. The airline plans to pick up its first eight 737 MAX 8200 aircraft within April, another eight coming in May. Some new jets will also carry the colours of Buzz and Malta Air, two Ryanair subsidiaries. However, we don’t know if such branded jets will be among the first sixteen aircraft to arrive in Europe.
Details Of The 737 MAX 8200
The MAX 8200 is dimensionally identical to the 737 MAX-8. Internally, the aircraft has a rearranged galley and lavatory space, creating room for more seats. This higher capacity meant that the aircraft needed an extra pair of emergency exits, behind the wings. These exits are actually there on the 737-9 version of the MAX, which already has FAA and EASA approvals. So there isn’t anything radically different in the 737 MAX 8200 variant, that isn’t already certified.
However, like anything new or different in aviation, these aircraft needed their own certification. Boeing built these aircraft after the existing MAX-8. Their certification was underway just before the fleet’s grounding. As it turned out, Boeing continued work on details around those extra doors in 2020, but certification had to wait!
Not A Single-Customer Aircraft
Contrary to popular belief, Ryanair is not the only customer with orders for the 737 MAX 8200 variant. Vietjet ordered 100 of these jets, in 2016. They later followed this with a second order, this time for 20 MAX-8 and 80 MAX-10s. Their MAX orders may be smaller than Ryanair’s, but they actually represented a major win for Boeing. Vietjet was (and for now, still is) an all-Airbus operator. Boeing’s order for 200 MAX aircraft eclipsed Vietjet’s orders for A320neo-family orders (122 total).
Boeing has completed 737 MAX 8200 aircraft in Vietjet’s colours, too. So they could be looking forward to deliveries as well. However, Vietnam has not yet ungrounded the MAX fleet, so the airline faces a longer wait. And as a new Boeing operator, they also need to train for these jets from scratch. Ryanair, on the other hand, already has several MAX simulators, and have recently ordered more.
The 737 MAX 8200 will be the most efficient version of the aircraft, in terms of emissions per passenger. Boeing estimates a 5% improvement, compared to the standard 737-8. This is quite impressive, considering that the 737-8 is already 14% more efficient than the 737-800 it replaces! And with the MAX getting more attention after its ungrounding, it will be interesting to see if more airlines place orders for this version, as Ryanair did in December.