Boeing has launched development of its re-engined 737, which it has named the 737 MAX, with commitments for 496 aircraft from five customers.
The 737 MAX will enter service from 2017, says Boeing, and will be powered by the CFM LEAP-1B engine. It will be available in 737 MAX 7, 737 MAX 8 and 737 MAX 9 models, and Boeing claims a four per cent fuel burn advantage over the equivalent Airbus A320neo models.
“We call it the 737 MAX because it optimises everything we and our customers have learned about designing, building, maintaining and operating the world’s best single-aisle airplane,” said Nicole Piasecki, vice president of Business Development and Strategic Integration, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Jim Albaugh, said Boeing is “seeing overwhelming demand for this new and improved version of the 737.”
So far American Airlines is the only named customer of the five who have committed to the 737 MAX, but Albaugh says “We are working with our customers to finalise these and other agreements in the weeks and months ahead.”
Boeing has revealed few technical details of the MAX, but images of the aircraft show the engine nacelles to feature noise reducing chevrons, and a slight redesign to the tail area around the APU. Boeing says it has not yet decided on a 66in (168cm) or 68in (173cm) fan diameter for the LEAP-1B, but either size would not require significant changes to the 737’s undercarriage to allow for the necessary ground clearance. (The current NG series 737 has a 61in/155cm diameter fan.)
The MAX will feature the Boeing Sky passenger interior, but changes to the flightdeck are expected to be minimal.
Boeing has named Bob Feldmann, head of the Surveillance and Engagement division within Boeing Military Aircraft, as vice president and general manager of the new engine 737 family, while Michael Teal has been named vice president, chief project engineer and deputy program manager, moving across from vice president and chief project engineer of the 747-8 program.