Not often I tend to agree with the outspoken Ryanair CEO Michael O´Leary, nicknamed by the twitter community with @MichaelOhReally. But when he recently talked about the B737 MAX, I had to agree with him. He said that he has been impressed by the fuel burn improvement the A320neo promises to deliver, but he is not impressed by the B737 MAX and said that the fuel born improvement is inferior.
Particularly he fears that the heavier CFM LEAP-1B engines and the subsequent heavier airframe will offset the better SFC, when compared to the CFM56-7B(E).
Meanwhile I had the opportunity to read the latest
Bernstein Report comparing the A320neo and B737 MAX and their development cost in full. Although disputed by Boeing, the report seems to be well researched. O`Leary as one of the best Boeing customers should have very good insight into the program as well - and probably people in his company who can distinguish between pure marketing and what is technical feasible and doable. So his remarks are outspoken (as always) and for sure not without any hidden agenda when it comes to pricing (for a still possible order of the B737 MAX). But putting his words in a context with the orders from American Airlines and Norwegian, both being loyal Boeing customers before and then splitting their orders between Boeing and Airbus, could be interpreted as some sort of discomfort with the B737 MAX. Norwegian CEO Kjos was cited: "A dual fleet also reduces the risk of delayed certification and other risks associated with being dependent on one aircraft type only."
A recent commentary from AirInsight suggests there could be another Boeing customer placing a split fleet order soon and that United, now run by Boeing-minded management (the former Continental management) could place an order for the A321/A321neo soon to replace United's B757 fleet.
So although there are about 1000 orders and commitments for the B737 MAX and I have no doubts that Boeing will have about 1000 firm orders for the MAX by the end of the year, the situation for Boeing is not too comfortable.