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The arrival of the Boeing 737 MAX at Air Canada

We are used to seeing a new iPhone every year. In the aviation world, new aircraft are becoming rarer. However, Air Canada has a few surprises in store for us in the years to come.

After the Boeing 787-8 and 787-9 in 2014, also known as the Dreamliner, Air Canada will introduce two aircraft in the coming years. First the Boeing 737 MAX in October 2017 and then the Bombardier CSeries in 2019.

The Boeing 737 MAX

The Boeing 737 is like the Honda Civic of civil aviation. The first model was released in February 1965. It has already had a dozen iterations with the 737-100, -200 etc. It is a single-aisle twin-engine aircraft (or narrow body) used on short and medium haul routes. There are some companies like Copa Airlines that have routes of more than 7 hours with the Boeing 737. It is the best-selling aircraft with more than 9,000 units built and 13,000 orders.

The latest model is therefore called 737 MAX. Like its competitor, the Airbus A320Neo, it is more an evolution than a revolution. For several years, both aircraft manufacturers have been engaged in new construction programs that use existing aircraft but with improved engines. Fuel consumption being one of the main expenses of an airline, the introduction of an aircraft that consumes 15 to 20% less is tempting. In the case of Boeing, the engines are CFM International LEAP-X.

Apart from some aerodynamic improvements, the appearance of the aircraft will remain the same and the cockpit will not see any change. There are 4 versions of the 737 MAX: 7, 8, 9 and 10. The first version to be delivered is the -8. The -9 version is expected to follow in 2018 but the largest order, United’s has been partially changed to the -10 version. All this to say that the models that seem to be the most popular are the -8 and -10.

The first Boeing 737 Max-8 for commercial use was delivered in May 2017 to a Malaysian company, Malindo Air.

boeing delivers 737 max 8 to malindo air1
First Boeing 737 MAX 8 delivered, we see that the biggest external change are the wings called “split winglet” or marginal vertical fin

The Air Canada order

Air Canada originally ordered 33 Boeing 737 Max -8 and 28 Boeing 737 Max -9 in 2013 but changed that order to 49 Boeing 737 Max 8 and 12 of the model 9.

The -8 model can accommodate up to 200 passengers in high density and the -9 model 220. It is not yet known what configuration Air Canada will choose: the distribution of seats between business and economy class and whether it will introduce a Premium Economy class. The latter has been introduced since July 1, 2017 on flights in North America with wide-body aircraft.

The first 737 MAX-8 is expected to be delivered in October 2017 with another before the end of the year. These aircraft will replace the Airbus A319 and A320, some of which will be transferred to the Air Canada Rouge subsidiary. It is therefore almost a disappearance of the Airbus family within the company, only the Airbus A321 and A330 will remain.

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a computer-generated image of the future Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 (old livery)

The aircraft is already featured in Air Canada’s Navi magazine with its new livery:

737 max ac navi
Boeing 737 MAX 8 rendered in Air Canada’s Navi magazine with the new livery
Air Canada 737 Max – Credit: boeing.com

But for a better view, visit the Boeing website!

What to expect from this plane as a passenger?

Air Canada had a nice short and medium-haul fleet in the 1990s and 2000s. These aircraft have individual screens, real business class seats and not a blocked seat as is the case in Europe. In addition, the company has equipped its fleet with Wi-Fi.

Aircraft Business Seats Seats Economy
Airbus A319 14 106
Airbus A320 14 132
Airbus A321 14 à 16 169

But it must be said that since then, the competition has increased. As much as the long-haul aircraft with the new 787 and the modernized 777 are up to standard, if not more so, it can be said that the medium-haul aircraft have become Air Canada’s weak point.

You will tell me that these aircraft will be used mainly on domestic or transborder routes where the company has little competition – except that Air Canada is positioning itself on an international market that feeds on its medium-haul network, including the United States. The company is promoting its hubs in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver as gateways to Asia and Europe from North America. It’s a shame to go from a very comfortable business class on a 787 Dreamliner to a less attractive seat on a medium-haul plane for 5 hours. Especially since the transcontinental market in the USA has improved a lot with, for example, JetBlue’s Mint or American Airlines’ First Class cabins.

Bottom Line

As aviation enthusiasts, we are excited to fly in a new aircraft. While the Boeing 737 Max won’t revolutionize the travel experience, a rejuvenation of the fleet is always welcome. We’ll see you between now and October with more news as we get closer to commissioning.

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!

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