Boeing has completed the firm configuration of the 737 MAX 8, the company announced Tuesday. The 737 MAX 8 is the upgraded version of Boeing’s popular 737 NG single-aisle airplane.
Completion of the configuration means the project can proceed to the next step – detailed design.
Spirit AeroSystems is a “design-build” partner on the 737 MAX program. The company currently builds the 737 fuselage, thrust reverser and pylons in Wichita and wing components in Tulsa.
“We have the same responsibility in terms of the structure on the MAX,” said Spirit spokesman Ken Evans.
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Spirit engineers have been working on modifying primarily the 737’s thrust reverser and pylon to take on the new engines.
“We’re extremely pleased to support our customer on this important derivative and really happy that we’ve reached this major milestone,” he said.
As the detailed designs are completed and released, production will be able to begin, Boeing said in a statement.
“We continue to follow our disciplined process to ensure that we have completed all the requirements for the development stage of the program and are ready to begin the detailed design phase,” Michael Teal, Boeing’s chief project engineer for the 737 MAX, said in a statement.
Final assembly of the 737 MAX 8 is expected to begin in 2015, with first delivery in the third quarter of 2017.
Boeing says the 737 MAX will be 13 percent more fuel efficient than today’s single-aisle airplanes and 8 percent more efficient per seat than “tomorrow’s competition,” referring to the Airbus A320 neo, a single-aisle airplane with new engines.
The upgraded 737 will include new LEAP-1B engines from CFM International, a redesigned tail cone and winglets to reduce fuel use.
It will also incorporate upgrades to flight deck displays, an electronic bleed air system, fly-by-wire spoiler flight controls and advancements in connectivity, the company said.
“As we continue to improve connectivity on the 737 platform, the 737 MAX will offer customers the capability to use real-time data to make operational decisions around maintenance on the ground during flight,” Keith Leverkuhn, Boeing vice president and program manager, said in a statement. “This will allow airlines to more efficiently manage their fleets. Enhanced connectivity also will benefit passengers as the demand for more wireless access to information and entertainment in flight continues to grow.”
The 737 MAX family will include the 737 MAX 7, 737 MAX 8 and 737 MAX 9 serving the 100-seat to more than 200-seat market.
The MAX will extend the range of the current 737 family by 400 to 540 nautical miles. First delivery of the MAX 9 is planned for 2018, followed by delivery of the MAX 7 in 2019.