Boeing completes 737 MAX concept development phase

Boeing’s plan to deliver its first 737 MAX in 2017 has progressed with the announcement of a major development milestone.

Boeing said in a statement that it has completed Firm Concept, a development phase that saw the aerospace company define the new single-aisle aircraft in broad terms.

‘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 of the 737 programme. ‘The team has a firm plan in place to incorporate all the changes necessary to realise a 13 per cent fuel-use reduction within the scope and schedule of the programme.’

Fuel-use reduction changes are said to include LEAP-1B engines from CFM International, a redesigned tail cone and Advanced Technology winglets. Other changes allow these fuel-saving features to be integrated into the overall aircraft design.

Boeing also decided to incorporate limited systems changes to the 737 MAX, including an electronic bleed air system that will be supplied by Honeywell and large-format displays, supplied by Rockwell Collins, for the flight deck.

The 737 MAX flight deck will have four new large displays with significant growth capability while maintaining a common look and feel with the next-generation 737 display formats that preserves commonality with training across the 737 family.

The team also has defined the high-speed aerodynamic lines for the 737 MAX.

Through analysis and testing conducted in high- and low-speed wind tunnels, the 737 MAX design team has further refined the geometric shape of the aircraft, eliminating the need for the small bump on the nose-gear door that appeared in earlier designs.

With Firm Concept, the factory plan for the 737 MAX also has been defined. The factory plan includes a 737 MAX transition line where the initial 737 MAX aircraft will be assembled before integrating the new craft into the existing 737 production lines in Renton, Washington.

‘The 737 MAX remains on track for first delivery in 2017,’ said Michael Teal, chief project engineer for the 737 MAX. ‘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.’