Aircraft lessor SMBC Aviation Capital has placed an order with Boeing for 80 737 MAX 8 airliners, worth more than $8.5bn at list prices.

The companies have signed the deal at a ceremony in Tokyo, Japan.

Said to be the largest-of-its-kind to date from a lessor, the purchase will allow SMBC to grow its portfolio of fuel-efficient aircraft.

SMBC Aviation has become the 50th customer for the 737 MAX and the deal brings the order book of the company for the variant to 2,400, Boeing said.

SMBC Aviation Capital CEO Peter Barrett said: "The 737 MAX 8 is one of the most fuel-efficient and versatile aircraft available and today’s announcement shows our ongoing commitment to the new generation of the popular 737 family, as well as our appetite to keep broadening and deepening our platform in order to service our customers’ requirements."

"The announcement from a top leasing company is a vote of confidence in our 737 MAX."

The leasing firm operates a fleet of 180 Boeing aircraft and serves 95 airlines in over 40 countries.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Ray Conner said: "Today’s announcement from a top leasing company is a vote of confidence in our 737 MAX and helps SMBC Aviation Capital capture the strong demand in the single-aisle market."

Powered by CFM International LEAP-1B engines, the 737 MAX is equipped with advanced technology winglets and other improvements, which together are claimed to deliver good efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort.

Compared with today’s Next-Generation 737s, the 737 MAX is said to offer 14% in fuel efficiency.

Boeing estimates that there will be a demand for 25,600 single-aisle aircraft in the next two decades.

Image: A 737 MAX 8 in SMBC Aviation Capital’s livery. Photo: courtesy of Boeing.

Defence Technology