Boeing has completed the first stage of design for its new fuel-efficient single-aisle aircraft, the B737 MAX.
The US planemaker described the finalising of the ‘firm concept’ for the aircraft a “major milestone” for the programme.
“The programme has achieved this development milestone by defining the significant changes needed to deliver the performance we’ve committed to our customers,” said Beverly Wyse, vice president and general manager 737 programme. “The team has a firm plan in place to incorporate all the changes necessary to realise a 13% fuel-use reduction within the scope and schedule of the programme.”
Changes to the existing B737 design include incorporating CFM International’s new LEAP-1B engines, a redesigned tail cone and winglet devices. Boeing will also make minor systems changes including large-format displays on the aircraft’s flight deck.
“In keeping with our commitment to customers to continuously improve the 737, we also are making an investment in the future capability of the 737 MAX flight deck with the new, more advanced displays,” said Wyse. “With large-format displays we can offer our customers future capability in the flight deck as pilot and training needs evolve, giving the 737 MAX a competitive advantage and 737 MAX operators even greater value.”
Boeing has also made aerodynamic changes for the 737 MAX. Following wind-tunnel tests, the 737 MAX design team has eliminated a small bump on the nose-gear door that appeared in earlier designs.
“Removal of the bump demonstrates how far our design work has progressed,” said Michael Teal, the 737 MAX’s chief project engineer.
With the ‘firm concept’ now in place, Boeing will work out the production processes for the 737 MAX. The existing B737 factory production line in Washington state will need to be altered slightly to accommodate the changes on the new aircraft.
“The 737 MAX remains on track for first delivery in 2017,” said Teal. “Now we are focused on the finer details of the configuration and we are confident we’ll be ready to begin detailed design in mid-2013.”
Boeing has already sold 969 B737 MAXs to 14 customers.