Update, 930am: The Daily Express of L0ndon (of all places) reported yesterday BCA got the approval Friday for the 737RE and that the announcement is to come today. Thanks to Heidi Wood of Morgan Stanley for this one.
Approval for Authority to Offer the 737 re-engine is expected to come from the Boeing Board of Directors today, according to sources.
Last Friday we published our story reporting this in Commercial Aviation Online in London and, per our arrangement with CAO, the following day on this site.
Bloomberg News published this story later on Friday also confirming ATO was expected.
Official launch of the airplane isn’t expected until fall, likely after the October Board meeting, predicts Credit Suisse.
Full design definition of the 737RE isn’t expected until next month, we are told. While it is widely expected that the CFM LEAP engine will have a 66-inch fan in order to avoid any changes to the landing gear that would complicate the work statement, as of today this isn’t definitively settled. A 68 inch fan is still a possibility, though it’s considered more remote.
According to a piece published earlier by Flightblogger, laminar flow designs in the tail and some added aerodynamic improvements will cut drag and decrease fuel consumption. The 66-inch fan is expected to provide only about 10%-12% gains in fuel economy and Boeing is counting on the other improvements to match the 15% claimed by Airbus (though Boeing only allows Airbus 13% fuel reduction in its analysis).
While Boeing promotes the 737RE as being 8% more cost efficient, including ownership costs, than the A320neo, a fleet planner who has been tracking development closely tells us the Boeing advantage will only be 2%. The 737-800 has 12 more seats than the A320neo, which accounts for some of the advantage.
It remains unclear if the 737RE will receive a 787-style cockpit or retain its current set-up to maintain commonality with the installed fleet. A new cockpit design increases the likelihood that the FAA will require recertification of the aircraft, a move that could add as much as $1bn to the development costs, according to some estimates. Boeing aims to have 90%-95% commonality with the 737NG. The A320neo is advertised as being 95% common with the current fleet.
The expected ATO comes at the “hat trick” (a hockey term) for Boeing. Certification of the 747-8 and 787 were received this month, giving boosts to these programs. First delivery of both aircraft are to come next month.