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Boeing 737 MAX to Improve Fuel Burn up to 12%

Boeing has made a series of design updates to its 737 MAX engine variant that will make additional fuel savings available to customers by 2017, the company said.

Airlines operating the 737 MAX will see a 10 percent to 12 percent fuel-burn improvement over the current technology in the most fuel efficient single-aisle airplanes, and a seven percent operating cost per-seat advantage over projected technology of other planes, Boeing said.

According to the Boeing website, the 737 MAX gives a 16 percent improvement in fuel use per seat compared to current competitors, and a 50 percent lower fuel used per seat that the MD-80, a fuel efficient twinjet from the 1980s.

Design changes include:

Aft body aerodynamic improvements: The tail cone will be extended and the section above the elevator thickened to improve steadiness of air flow. This eliminates the need for vortex generators on the tail. These improvements will result in less drag.

Engine installation: The new CFM International LEAP-1B engines will be integrated with the wing, similar to the aerodynamic lines of the 787 Dreamliner. A new pylon and strut, along with an 8-inch nose gear extension, will give similar ground clearance to the current 737 while accommodating the larger engine fan. The nose gear door design is altered to fit with this revision.

Flight control and system updates: The flight controls will include fly-by-wire spoilers, which save weight on the replacement of a mechanical system. The MAX will feature an electronic bleed air system, allowing for increased optimization of the cabin pressurization and ice protection systems, resulting in better fuel burn.

Other minor changes planned so far include strengthening the main landing gear, wing and fuselage to accommodate bigger loads due to the larger engines. Boeing said it will continue to conduct aerodynamic, engine and airplane trade studies to optimize the airplane design by mid-2013, with possible revisions to the wind tunnel and the wing tips.

Boeing said that it has more than 1,000 orders and commitments for the 737 MAX.

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