The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has certified the Boeing 737-8200, a high-density variant of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 that is able to carry up to 200 passengers.
The standard Boeing 737 MAX 8 is certified to carry up to 189 passengers, just like the Boeing 737-800 NG; the 737 MAX 8200 incorporates two additional exit doors to allow for increased passenger capacity.
The aircraft type has only recently been allowed back into service after a two-year grounding following two major accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia in 2017 and 2018. The accidents claimed the lives of 346 people and were attributed to the flawed design of a new feature introduced on the aircraft type. This feature is called Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) and is intended to help pilots prevent the aircraft from stalling given the more advanced centre of gravity of the 737 MAX compared to the 737 NG.
“The 737-8200 incorporated all of the design improvements that were part of the 20-month review of the 737 MAX, including those related to the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System” said the FAA in a statement confirming the certification.
The aircraft type has been created mainly to satisfy the request of one of Boeing’s biggest customers, Irish low-cost airline Ryanair. The carrier had already “rebranded” the aircraft on their orderbook as 737-8200 in order to distance itself from the very bad publicity the “MAX” terminology had received following the two fatal accidents and the subsequent grounding.
Ryanair has recently announced the decision to exercise more options it had acquired when it decided to make its first order for 100 Boeing 737 MAX in September 2014. Now the airline is expecting 210 new aircraft to be delivered by 2029.
Of course, the FAA certification is an important step forward for the 737-8200, but since Ryanair is registered in the European Union it will have to wait until the European Aviation and Space Agency (EASA) and the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) give their authorization for the aircraft model to be operated commercially across Europe.