Boeing continues to make improvements on its 737 Max 8, with engineers saying the upgraded variant of its 737 single-aisle airliner will gain another 1 percent fuel efficiency improvement.
That’s in addition to the 13 percent fuel efficiency the company has already promised customers, Boeing said Tuesday.
The 737 Max is on track for first delivery in the third quarter of 2017.
“Program and airplane performance just continues to improve,” Keith Leverkuhn, Boeing vice president and general manager of the 737 Max program, said in a statement. “We have been very disciplined in our approach and continue to realize more benefit for our customers as we retire risk on the program and get further into development.”
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Firm configuration of the plane was set in July.
Spirit AeroSystems is designing and will build its fuselage, nacelles and pylons. Since most of Boeing’s changes have involved the engines, most of the changes to Spirit’s work package have involved the pylon and thrust reverser.
Boeing has taken orders for 1,609 737 Max airplanes.
Reuters reported Friday that Boeing has secured commitments for about 200 of its 737 Max aircraft from multiple Chinese customers in deals worth a combined $20.7 billion at list prices. Reuters cited two sources familiar with the deal.
The orders must be approved by the Chinese government before the customers can be identified.
The 737 Max competes with the Airbus A320 neo, Airbus’ variant of its A320 single-aisle airplane.
Boeing continues to make progress on the detailed design of the airplane, the company said. Recently the team completed the Firm Systems Definition, which defines the hardware locations for the systems on the airplane.
“Throughout the design process, we’ll continue to look for opportunities to improve operational performance, schedule and cost for our customers,” said Leverkuhn.
With the additional performance, airlines operating the 737 Max will receive a 14 percent fuel efficiency improvement over today’s most fuel-efficient single-aisle airplanes, the company said. At longer ranges, the improvement will be greater, Boeing said.
“This recent fuel-efficiency gain will widen the performance gap in the single-aisle market, reinforcing the 737 Max’s position as the value leader,” Keverkuhn said in a statement.
The 737 Max has been upgraded with new CFM Leap engines, and has several other enhancements. CFM is a joint venture between GE Aviation and Snecma.
It also will include an enhanced onboard network system that will provide a centralized data collection system that will double the amount of maintenance data available during flight. The system will connect the airplane in flight to airplane operations on the ground, which will help the airlines better prepare for dispatch issues, Boeing said.