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Five Ways To Tell the Boeing 737 MAX Apart From Older 737s

Will Simple Changes Result in Big Savings for Airlines?

With Boeing completing its first 737 MAX delivery in May, and major airlines like Southwest and Norwegian (no comment) are receiving their aircraft soon, the hype is building for the new MAX series. Boeing recently flew a very sporty Paris Air Show profile in the jet too.  A few avgeeks have recently asked us, “how can you spot the differences between this new aircraft and its predecessor?” Here are 5 ways to recognize so that you will sound like a pro the next time (or the first time) you see a new Boeing 737 MAX airplane at your local airport:

1. Larger Engines

737 MAX LEAP-1B Engine Build Up Renton Factory. Photo: Safran

737-900. As an avgeek, you should notice that the engine is much larger than even the 737 engines on the Next-Gen jets.  The titanium and composite blades themselves are also curved to optimize the efficiency.

2. AT Winglets

Photo: Boeing

These winglets are a brand-new design, specifically created for the 737 MAX and “the most efficient ever designed for a production airplane.” Boeing says this feature reduces fuel consumption by nearly 2 percent, cutting down on drag while also providing more lift.  It’s funny how MD-11 style technology has made its way onto Boeing products.

3. Serrated Engine Cowlings

Photo: Boeing

While most of the 737 MAX differences when compared to the 737 are all about efficiency, this little change is not. The serrated engine cowlings are intended to reduce noise, which is great for passengers, many of whom can attest to the high volume levels on the 737. In fact, the MAX should have a 40-percent smaller noise footprint during takeoff and landing at airports.

4. New APU Placement

Photo: Boeing

New APU placement includes a revised APU inlet and exhaust, which adds to the aircraft’s aerodynamic improvements. This is just one of the many small, perhaps less noticeable changes Boeing’s been making to reduce fuel costs overall.  The new APU makes the baby Boeing’s tail look more similar to an A320 tail.  Additionally, in the cockpit, pilots will no longer fine the EGT gauge or the blue MAINT light on the APU overhead panel.

5. Taller Landing Gear

With the most recent variants of the 737 MAX boasting a longer body overall, taller main landing gear and a modified design are needed to provide clearance for the back end of the plane during both takeoff and landing. In other words, without bigger, better landing gear, your plane’s going to be scraping the runway.

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