Now Panda aren't alone on getting onto the MAX bandwagon as JC Wings have announced their own version and even shown some pre-production photos, however as is often the case with JC Wings the model was announced well before it is ready. The JC Wings releases haven't seen the light of day yet. Panda typically releases only a week or so after announcement and in this case the models were seemingly announced almost simultaneously with their release.
The 737 MAX was rolled out now over a year ago on December 8, 2015 with first flight on January 29. Even so deliveries have yet to begin. In fact who is the launch customer and who will receive the first MAX has been a bit shrouded in mystery. Just today it was reported that the original launch customer, Southwest Airlines, will now be gazumped by Norwegian Air Shuttle.
Boeing has apparently been able to move the delivery schedule up and though Southwest was to receive its first arcraft in July with service entry in October Norwegian may now receive its first aircraft in May. Either way Boeing has a healthy order backlog of 3,449 aircraft, although the vast majority are 737-MAX 8 variants. The shorter 737-MAX 7 (longer than a standard 737-700) has only 60 orders whilst the longer 737-MAX 9 has taken a hammering at the hands of the Airbus A321NEO, but still has 418 orders.
Anyway back to the Panda releases. There are 3 models made:
So onto the mould. I've been a big fan of Panda's 737NG mould but with the MAX it looks like they've improved upon it substantially. The slope down to the cockpit and nose is much better and one of the best 737 representations I've seen. The rest of the mould looks great too with aerials fitted. Things that don't look so good include the fit of the satnav dome and the gaps at the front and rear of the nosegear doors. These are relatively minor qualms.
Panda Models vs JC Wings
I haven't had either of the MAX moulds in hand yet but let's do a quick comparison from photos.
Oh my it's quite a comparison. The Panda models version looks much better. Neither of the moulds have the satnav dome fitted well but the Panda nose is much superior. The nose on the JC Wings looks too long. I also think the nosegear legs and engines look better on the Panda version plus I am concerned that the JC Wings has the same uptitlted wing issues several others of their moulds have. The one place the JC Wings mould looks obviously better is the wheelhubs I'd say.
So far few Chinese airlines have directly ordered 737 MAX variants though I suspect they will get plenty through lessors. This new mould, alongside their new widebodies, does suggest Panda are going to really start taking it to their competition in 2017 and releasing a wider variety of airlines. For me they are producing the best new moulds and already have the best A320NEOs and 737MAX moulds that are likely to be made in this scale.
2017, January. Boeing 737 Max launch customer won't be the first to get it. Bizjournals.com
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of 1/400 scale model aircraft and airports. This blog reports work on my model airport dioramas and discussion of the model manufacturers output.