Boeing launches re-engined 737 and pledges four per cent better fuel efficiency than rival Airbus A320neo
The re-engined 737 MAX (graphic: Boeing)
Wed 31 Aug 2011 – With airlines clamouring for more fuel and carbon efficient narrowbody aircraft, Boeing has finally ended speculation by announcing the launch of a new generation, re-engined version of its single-aisle 737. On the back of order commitments for 496 aircraft from five airlines, the Boeing board has given the go-ahead for what it calls the 737 MAX family, to be exclusively powered by CFM International LEAP-1B engines that will be optimised for the aircraft. The Seattle-based manufacturer claims the new version will be 16 per cent more fuel efficient than current Airbus narrowbody offerings and 4 per cent lower than the re-engined A320neo that was announced last December. Boeing expects first deliveries to begin in 2017, a year later than the A320neo.
The new Boeing family will have three models – 737 MAX 7, 737 MAX 8 and 737 MAX 9 – with the name referring to the maximum efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort the aircraft is expected to deliver.
“The re-engined 737 will allow Boeing to continue to deliver the most fuel efficient, most capable airplane with the lowest operating costs in the single-aisle market,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Jim Albaugh. “Customers tell us they want to improve profitability and fuel efficiency while reducing their environmental footprint. This solution meets all three of those needs.”
When compared to a fleet of 100 of today’s most fuel-efficient airplanes, claims Boeing, the new model will emit 277,000 fewer tons of CO2 and save nearly 175 million pounds (nearly 80,000 metric tonnes) of fuel per year, representing around $85 million in cost savings.
The CFM LEAP-X (Leading Edge Aviation Propulsion) is also one of two engine choices for the rival Airbus A320neo (Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower PW1100G geared turbofan being the other). At the Paris Air Show in June, CFM announced it had booked firm orders for 910 LEAP-X1A engines to power 455 Airbus A320neo aircraft. Airbus has notched up orders for around 1,200 A320neo aircraft since its launch.
The LEAP-X1C variant is the exclusive powerplant for the all-new Chinese COMAC 150-seater, single-aisle C919 aircraft, and has an expected entry into service in 2016.
CFM says the engine will provide 15% better fuel consumption and equivalent reduction in CO2 emissions compared to the best-performing current CFM engine, along with a 50% reduction in NOx emissions. The engine manufacturer says noise levels will be reduced by up to 15 decibels.
Although Boeing has not disclosed further performance details as yet, a rendering (see photo above) of the 737 MAX shows the serrated chevrons located at the rear of the engine nacelles that are a take-off noise-reduction feature of the new 787 Dreamliner and 747-8 Intercontinental aircraft.
The interior of the 737 MAX will also be revamped with more spacious cabin headroom, overhead bins that can carry more luggage and disappear into the ceiling, along with LED lighting that is colour adjustable.