Earlier this week, Boeing introduced it’s latest Boeing 737 to the world in a relatively low-key fashion. Known as the Boeing 737 MAX, the aircraft is scheduled for first delivery in the 3rd quarter of 2017. The new 737 family is the 4th generation of the venerable “Baby Boeing”. First flown in 1967, the original Boeing 737-100 was a far cry from Boeing’s latest offering. The original 737 was envisioned to be an aircraft to fly about 100 to 120 people on short-haul routes between 500-1000 miles. The new 737 MAX series can fly upwards of 200+ people on domestic and international routes of up to 3,600 nautical miles. That’s enough range to fly from the east coast of the United States to the western coast of Europe.
Here are 5 additional things that you should know about the rollout of the first Boeing 737-MAX:
1.) BOEING HASTILY LAUNCHED THE 737MAX IN RESPONSE TO AIRBUS’S A320NEO
It was long rumored that Boeing favored a clean sheet design to augment the 787 program. Known as the Y1, this aircraft would have spanned the gap between the 737 and 757 market. Competition by Airbus forced Boeing’s hand. In December of 2011, American Airlines announced a fleet renewal program. In their program, they split their narrow-body order between the Airbus A320NEO family and the Boeing 737MAX. This type of announcement was unusual as an airline, not Boeing, unveiled the MAX family. Many critics felt that the launch of the Airbus A320NEO forced Boeing’s hand to launch a competing product versus an all new design.
2.) The MAX features new, more efficient engines
The 737 MAX features the new CFM Leap-1B engines that will make the latest 737 at least 14% more efficient than the existing 737 Next Generation aircraft. The Leap 1B, previously known as the “Leap X”, is the exclusive engine of the 737 MAX program. The engine is 69.4 inches in circumference, 8 inches larger than the 737NG engines but still smaller than the Airbus A320NEO engines. The Leap 1B provides up to 35,000 lbs of thrust. The new engine features many advancements that were first seen on the wide-body 787/A350 engines. These include an extensive use of ceramics and even 3D printed parts. One significant advancement is that the engine has carbon-fiber woven composite fan blades. The engine first flew on a 747 testbed in 2015.
3.) The MAX “AT Winglets” provide up to an additional 1.8% fuel savings
Winglets are so 2000! The new Boeing 737 MAX AT Winglet is Boeing’s in-house version of a split-scimitar winglet. This optimized winglet is 1.8% more efficient than traditional winglets that have been commonly seen on 737 NextGen aircraft for the past 10+ years. This 1.8% efficiency gain translates into a potential gain of almost 500nm in range. Winglets work by blocking the downward force of vortices generated by the edge of the wings. The Advanced Technology winglet blocks those vorticies on both the bottom and the top, acting as a fence. The angle of the winglets provide the maximum amount of deflection while the shape of the winglet also generates less drag itself than earlier versions.
4.) The MAX has the range to do intercontinental routes
The 737 MAX is a very efficient plane with the -8 version able to fly almost 3,600nm non-stop. While this technically means that the MAX has the ability to fly east-coast to Europe, it is unlikely to replace the 757s and larger aircraft that currently ply the routes ‘across the pond’ because that range is significantly decreased with the typical wintertime winds flying westbound. The MAX does open opportunities to fly from Montreal to London and New York to Dublin reliably. It also will allow airlines to economically fly new routes between the southern US and Central America along with Europe and Africa.
5.) Delivery isn’t scheduled until Q3 2017
The first flight of the 737 MAX is scheduled in early 2016. First delivery isn’t scheduled until Q3 of 2017. The first MAX aircraft will be delivered to Southwest Airlines. Currently there are 2,955 outstanding orders for the MAX. A majority of them are the -8 model.