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How to tell if you're flying on a Boeing 737 MAX

The FAA has recently lifted the order grounding the Boeing 737 MAX after two fatal crashes that claimed 346 lives. The grounding has lasted for a whopping 20 months.

With this, we will slowly see Boeing 737 MAX in the skies once again. Moreso, there is no doubt that you may have a chance to be on board one, if you are not so conscious on the aircraft type.

In the Philippines though, no local airline uses a 737 MAX as all our airlines that operate narrowbody aircraft use the Airbus A320 family. However, there is also no doubt that other airlines that fly to the Philippines may utilize a Boeing 737 MAX. China Southern Airlines and Xiamen Air, which both fly to Manila, have Boeing 737 MAX jets on order.

With this, how would you know if you are flying on a Boeing 737 MAX aircraft?

While looking at your ticket may give you the much obvious answer, others may decide just to put "B738" or "B739". This may mean either the 737-800NG or 737 MAX 8. 

Incase no one can confirm which 737 you will be on, here's how to tell if you're on a 737 MAX or not.

737 MAX 8 split wingtip


The first thing you look at is the wingtip. A Boeing 737 MAX 8 or MAX 9 uses a split wingtip, or where the edge of the wing splits into two vertically. However, previous generations of the 737 like the 737-800NG may have a similar wingtip but they are actually different. While the MAX splits into two, the NG uses a Split Scimitar Wingtip.

The Split Scimitar Wingtip on the NG is like a blended wingtip with a little fin placed below.

Split Scimitar Wingtip on 737NG

So there, split wingtip on the 737 MAX and split scimitar wingtip on the 737 NG. 

Another way is to look at the nacelle or the engine cover of the aircraft. If you will notice like a saw-tooth edge design at the end of the engine, then you are flying on a 737 MAX.

Chevrons on the engine nacelle.


These saw-tooth like design are called chevrons, and its purpose is to reduce the noise. When inside the aircraft, you will notice a high-pitch sound when the pilot ads power during take-off, similar to that on the Boeing 777-300ER and the Airbus A321neo. That's because the 737 MAX and the Airbus A321neo engines are almost the same, where the former uses a CFM-LEAP 1B and the latter uses a CFM-LEAP 1A.

The Airbus A321neo however has another engine option which is the PW1100G engine.

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