Update, January 1:
We always get a sense of satisfaction when Boeing confirms our news. Here’s an excerpt of a Bloomberg story picking up on the 737 “re-generation” piece we did for Aviation and the Environment magazine (see below).
January 1, 2009
Boeing Co., whose 737 is the world’s most widely flown plane, said it’s studying new “product enhancements” as replacement plans for the aircraft have been delayed toward the end of the next decade.
The Chicago-based company is considering rolling out more changes to the current version of the jet as it has done since 2000, with improvements to performance, comfort and navigation, Russell Young, a spokesman in Seattle, said Wednesday.
“We will share the details of future enhancements when we have decided to implement them,” Young said.
With environmentalists and the slumping economy putting pressure on the industry, Boeing is considering a bridge model that would provide a 10 percent improvement until a replacement is ready, according to the current edition of Aviation and the Environment magazine.
The full story may be found here.
Original Post, December 22:
Here’s a teaser for a story we’ve written for the next issue of Aviation and the Environment magazine; the full magazine may be found here; the article referenced below begins on Page 18:
Is Boeing planning a major 737 improvement programme?
The current stated position of Boeing and Airbus is that the next-generation of single aisle aircraft will be available around the 2020 mark. Would it make sense to delay this date if significant performance and environmental improvements could be made to the current generation relatively quickly?
Boeing is quietly studying how to improve the 737 Next Generation, according to sources quizzed for a report in the December/ January issue of Aviation and the Environment, who all have knowledge on some level of the Boeing studies.
Among the possibilities being explored is the placement of a scaled-up version of a Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engine on the aircraft. This would necessitate a massive structural change of the 737, with the introduction of a new wing, taller landing gear and a redesigned wingbox. Boeing is also looking at CFM’s LEAP-X engine, although the engine maker says it is developing the engine for an entirely new platform. In addition, the 2016 certification date would push the arrival of an entirely new aircraft out much further than 2020.
Additionally, a new avionics system seems likely, in which RNP would come as standard. A range of internal systems improvements are being considered, which would make building and maintaining the aircraft easier.
The combined fuel burn improvement of these measures could be as much as ten per cent – potentially making it very attractive to airlines as a “bridge” aircraft…
Please see the upcoming issue of the magazine for the full report.
If Boeing does fit a new wing and a new landing gear it is time for the FAA to come to life and require a new type rating for the next, next generation.
Not only is the type rating for the -100 through the 900 stretched as it is, but this would release Boeing from duplicating that 1960s overhead panel.
The 737 overhead panel has been described as a classic rock station. It incorporates the best from the 70s, 80s and 90s.
It’s time for a clean sheet sweep of the cockpit.
If they do that much to it, they may as well put a new fuselage on it so that it carries underfloor containers/pallets.
The true weak link is underfloor space on the 737 particularly here in Philippines.
Continental frequently are unable to cope with the sheer quantity of the traditional Filipino Balikbayan boxes between Manila and Guam, and it was a factor with Cebu Pacific and PAL going the A320 route.
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