737 MAX program update

Boeing today gave an update for the 737 MAX program. Keith Leverkuhn, VP of Program Manager, provided the briefing. Michael Teal, chief project engineer, was also on the call. The highlights, paraphrased:

KL:: We’ve had firm systems definition, firm design definition.

  • We now promise fuel improvement of 14% over today’s 737, vs 13% at the pre-Paris Air Show briefing. This is the integration of the engine performance, and the weight. This will widen gap between the MAX and the competitor.
  • CFM will begin assembly of the LEAP 1B in the next several weeks. Ground testing begins next year. Will get benefit of LEAP 1A testing [the one on the Airbus A320neo-Editor].

MT: We see airplane having an 8% operating cost per seat over competition.

  • The MAX will remain the lighter airplane vs A320neo.
  • The 737 historically had more reliability vs competitor’s.
  • Carefully offering new systems that will only give advantage without affecting reliability. Will add some of these first to the 737NG before the MAX.
  • Introducing on-board Digitable Flight Data system to NG to have paperless cockpit, on-board connectivity features to NG. MAX will build from these. MAX will be able to offer real-time data to prepare for maintenance actions. MAX will also have built-in maintenance test systems.
  • Leveraging from the lessons learned on recent development programs from 747-8 and 787. We implemented non-recurring development on these programs to predict future performance of design releases. These programs have been integrated on the MAX.

KL: With the recent audit numbers coming in and the 14% fuel efficiency, and continuing to make progress and pulling delivery date from 4Q to 3Q 2017, the MAX just keeps getting better.


  • Re: Lack of second engine option: KL: We don’t see this as a key discriminator for Airbus having more orders. We don’t see the availability of the GTF as a key discriminator. LEAP has new technology to [match the GTF].
  • MT: We continue to see upward pressure on production rate. As we introduce the MAX into the NG line and increase the rates, we continue to monitor rates on NG.
  • We believe that with whatever rate demand, we’re capable of handling the demand in Renton. [In other words, no new factory will be required–Editor.]
  • MT: One of the most significant improvements for the additional 1% fuel efficiencies was the integration of the engine to the wing that gave us about one-half a percent. Aerodynamics of the winglet gave another one-half percent.
  • There will be no rate reduction on the NG has MAX comes up.
  • We went to market with less than 14% fuel improvement. We are really pleased with the market response, and we see better response from this improvement.

27 Comments on “737 MAX program update

    • I could be wrong but that’s a very rare case of good Superjet press lately. Lets hope the tenor continues.

  1. The aeroturbopower analysis is very good. I suspect it is true that a combination of unannounced cancellations/available NG/CEO slots over the next 5 years are driving some curious pricing for customers/lessors today. I don’t think the “new” competitors (BBD/EMB) have really cracked the market too much yet at the bottom end for the mainline carriers, but if they do (with a large LCC for instance) then it will just get curiouser and curiouser.

  2. they will never change, over promising and under delivering
    They probably did not understand the long nose image???
    Is there anybody in this blog that believes in this MAX 8% avantage on NEO????

    Airlines are voting with their feet, and the result is pretty clear!
    Any faithful 320 Customer purchasing MAX????
    The only real point above is : the MAX is a lighter airplane.
    Yes but there are two major reasons for this:
    A: BOEING can thank the extensive use of grandfather clause, which allows a weight saving of around 2 tons due to Corvair vintage safety features!
    Not sure that passengers are aware of this!
    B/ The fuselage is significantly smaller in diameter, with the obvious consequence that passengers are enjoying the confort of 17inches seats, soooo much better than the 18 inches 320 seats!

    • Flying frog,

      “they will never change, over promising and under deliveringthey probably did not understand the long nose image???”

      nobody knows …
      But what we do know is that this image account also for the A340 vs 777. And then the A330 is LAG vs 787 …

      There is not only Boeing which elements and you know very well.

      What is your goal if it is only to do the Bashing!

      Pathetic. ..

    • “A: BOEING can thank the extensive use of grandfather clause, which allows a weight saving of around 2 tons due to Corvair vintage safety features!
      Not sure that passengers are aware of this!”

      Could you go into more detail on that one? Means the “vintage safety features” over the ones the competition has to fulfil. Would that a) really cause a significant weight advantage (as you imply) and b) an equally significant loss in actual capabilities in regard to safety?

      My understanding so far was that the A320 comes in heavier for a number of reasons, some of them offering the benefit of being able to fit large diameter engines easier as on the 737. So I wonder if it’s just that safety setup you are citing which renders the 737 the lighter plane.

    • FF, lets leave it to the airworthiness experts to review in detail the Type Certificate Data Sheets to compare the certification basis of the 1988 A320 vs, the 1997 737NG. Both types had to meet ALL applicable portions of the FAA and EASA rules as of their respective certification dates. One example of the 737NG’s many updates is the cabin structure. It was strengthened for the new requirements for passenger seats certified to the latest 16G dynamic crash load requirements. The old requirement was a 9G static load.

      As for cabin width, here are some numbers: the 737 is widest at window height. The A320 is widest at the cabin floor. That’s the source of the statement that “the A320 is 6 inches wider than the 737”.

      Cabin geometry is more than just width. When both cabins are measured at window height, the A320 is only 3.3 inches wider than a 737. At the windows, the A320 sidewall slopes inward; the 737’s sidewall is more vertical. The 737’s cabin is a few inches taller than the A320.

      A320’s can have a 62-inch triple vs the 737’s 59-inch triple. Aisle width will be the same for both. However, from the shoulders on up, A320 passengers in window seats will be very close to the sidewall. Wider seats or wider aisles? Split the difference? Offset the seat inboard for more shoulder room at the windows? As with so much in this life, there are few absolutes and many tradeoffs.

    • I think you have not been flying long enough to realise that airlines don’t buy planes solely on the basis of one airplane being better than the other. It’s mainly politics and which eom will give the highest discount. It is a well known fact that ab sells its a320 cheaper than boeing just to have market share. the size of the seats is not up to the eom to determine,airlines want max profit from their machines so the more people they have on board the better.
      I wonder if you will boast about the comfort of the a320 seats when you have 350+ seats in a airframe like the a330.
      keep flying one day you will wisen up.

      • “”””It is a well known fact that ab sells its a320 cheaper than boeing just to have market share.”””

        Or…maybe Airbus is a more efficient manufacturer. For example, Airbus has consistently turned out more planes than Boeing with far fewer people on the payroll.

  3. The call or project update is pretty academic in terms of content, what’s required at these sessions/calls is someone with some industry savvy asking pertinent questions.

    Boeing are rightly squeezing the design to it’s limits, it’s something of a compromise fix & after Max there is little or no wriggle room for the type.

    As flying frog commented who in their right mind believes the 8% claimed Max improvement, order numbers. The continuing defections from Boeing to Airbus indicate that operators certainly don’t.

    Aircraft out the door is a prime player & as such Boeing need are answering Airbus by jacking up production to counter their declining single aisle market, not a lot more they can do really

  4. These Boeing engineers are claiming the 8 percent better trip economy by including the couple of rows that the 800-MAX is supposed to carry over the A320 not if they carry the same amount of passengers.

    One thing I don’t understand much (scratching my head a little), even if the NEO was a couple of percentage better than the MAX, is that really that good of a reason for people to switch planes just like that. I’m pretty sure when the NG came to be at the end of the 90s, it was a couple of percentage better than the A320 of that era, yet it was not like Boeing was selling it at neck breaking speed and getting operator to switch that easy. Easy because maintenance is now done somewhere else that the carrier don’t have to setup huge hangars and employ that many mechanics and engineers?

    • You always have to read carfully what companies like Boeing tell:
      “The MAX will remain the lighter airplane vs A320neo.”
      Is the MAX9 really lighter than A320neo?

      “We see airplane having an 8% operating cost per seat over competition.”
      Maybe in relation to the CEO;-)

      These statments are for shareholders to keep the stock price high and also the boni.

      • Do you believe ab when they say that their ceo has 8% advantange over the venerable 737?

  5. -Phil-

    “Aircraft out the door is a prime player & as such Boeing need are answering Airbus by jacking up production to counter their declining single aisle market, not a lot more they can do really.”

    Really? I suppose that if you were producing 50 cents sneakers or any other cheap product that could maybe make some sense (performing this tactics) when trying to take on the competition. But these are very expensive machines. Even if they sell it at a bottom price of 30 millions each, imaging building 20 extra of them. that would be 600 million dollars that you have to come up with. And even if the plane makers can drop the price, how about the engine makers (or the interior providers). Does CFM have any incentives to drop the price on the engines just so that one OEM, (CFM can well sell engines for these airplane models no matter who the buider is) can get parity with the other?
    So, I would say that a heck of a way to get parity. But I guess we learn new things everyday.

  6. Neither A or B is hurting for business. Neither can produce enough aircraft to meet demand. A is more heavily dependent on the 320 line for cash flow as the 330 lineup will slow within the next 5 years unless there are a slew of 330 orders in Dubai ie > 70 to match the draw down production of > 100 a year they are producing. The 380 and 400 are minimal cash flow as is the 350. So 11 x $125 is $1.3 billion and 45 x $30 is $1.3 billion. Assume 2 380s a month at $300 for $0.6 billion for a cash flow of $3.2 billion a month (wag of course)

    B is riding the 737 and 777 lines and even the 767 line provides a little positive flow. The 777 will also start slowing down in five years, but it appears the slope of decay might be less steep. The 787 production is proceeding and cash flow will start flooding in as production hits 10 then 12 a month. 10 a month at $150 million is $1.5 billion a month. 8 777 a month is >$2 billion a month, 45 737 a month is $1.3 billion a month. Add tiny 747 and 767 for $0.4 for a ruff $5 billion a month. That’s cash flow spread over multiple lines in various stages of life span.

  7. I guess major selling points of the MAX sofar proved
    – commmonality with existing 737 fleets / infrastructure
    – lack of NEO slots
    – dual source purchasing strategy
    – aggressive financing / pricing
    – the 737-8 has 12 more seats then the A320

    but there it basically ends. And everybody in the room knows. Comfort, cargo capability, A321 seat capacity, runway performance, payload-range, modern avionics, engine choice.. Boeing is bravely defending the second best, but it’s a duopoly.

    A bigger fan/BPR on the same engine gives about 0.5% better sfc per inch. That’s why Boeing is stretching the nose gear. CFM specifies it for their CFM56-5 and -7 too. The difference has even grown 3 inch on the LeapX..

    Boeings hand was forced by AA, SW and DL while they had been dismissing re-engining the 737 shortly before.

    Some of the biggest MAX customer, Lionair, AA and Norwegian, ordered NEO’s too. Those that think large 737 operators United and Delta will pass on US build, Pratt powered A321 NEO proposals forever, raise their hands..

  8. There have been quite a few revisions to anticipated final performance figures for MAX and NEO.
    Has anyone a nice simple analysis of where the two models stand with all the changes promised please?

  9. Most analyst in the past said the 737NG was slightly more efficient on short flights, the A320 slightly more efficient on longer flights. Resulting in similar fuel efficiency on average.

    Andrew I think it is reasonable to assume the LEAPX for the NEO has a 10 inch larger fan then the same engine for the MAX. A rule of thumb, confirmed by existing engines, ginves about .5% better sfc Both engines will get the same PIP’s over time.

    CFM will be motivated hard to do LEAPX for the NEO right, because they are facing direct competition on that aircraft.

    A 5% better sfc for the LEAPX on the A320 seems logical and in line with sfc’s for the CFM56-5 for the NEO and CFM56-7 for the 737NG.

    Then the NEO seems to have gotten a 3% efficiency boost over the CEO from the Sharklets.

    How the Pratt GTF for the NEo will do is unclear, it has been in test flights for nearly half a year now.

    • Saw a diagram recently that differentiated “subsystem efficiencies” for jet engines.(RR?)
      The item that shew the least achieved was thermal efficiency.
      In my experience it is easier to bring something at 50% efficiency forward than something that already sits at 80++% for comparable overall gain.
      Thus if GE brings it off to raise temps …

  10. It is clear from previous Boeing slides that their claims of an advantage for the MAX over the NEO are based on the assertion that their existing products (737NG family) already are much more efficient than Airbus’ (A320 CEO family). Yet the market has been almost evenly shared over the years, showing that such claims are excessive at best.

    When existing offerings are assessed as of roughly equal value, the obvious prediction is that the same is likely to hold true in the future.

    If anything, the factors that might tilt the balance seem to play in Airbus’ favour (e.g. the NEO version of the LEAP engine has a higher bypass ratio than the MAX version, PW’s GTF might have a higher improvement potential than the LEAP …).

    The bottom line is : the MAX family of aircraft may match the NEO family, nothing more.

    Of course, there are differences between the respective sub-types. The market trend towards larger aircraft may not help Boeing.

  11. “It is clear from previous Boeing slides that their claims of an advantage for the MAX over the NEO are based on the assertion that their existing products (737NG family) already are much more efficient than Airbus’ (A320 CEO family).”

    It seem Boeing came up with those numbers, AFTER they launched the MAX. Repositioning the benchmark to make the numbers work. Purely aimed at the bigger public, politics and stockholders. Airline specialists do their own homework and don’t even take them into considerations.

    I think the position Boeing got itself into with the MAX originated 5-6 years ago. Boeing was manning up for an NSA when the 787 troubles began to claim billions and the best engineers.

    That made Boeing stakeholders conservative. Key accounts where close to defecting. Boeing had to go quick and dirty with the MAX. I think Boeing will launch a 737 successor well before the end of the decade. The sales numbers of the MAX only tell half the story.. Low sales margins, high profile defections, clear design limitations all around.


  12. You have to claim you are the best to justify your subsidy. Both sides do it. The real problem starts if you allow management to read their own PR. That is where Boeing fall down. Not unlike the USSR circa 1985.

  13. I believe Scott has commented that industry insiders gave a slim 2% margin to the 737-8 NG over the 320 CEO primarily based on larger capacity. The NEO and MAX are likely going to be very close and it would probably depend on configuration, route structure, slot availability etc as to airline preference. Any way you look at it, there is a backlog of at least 7-8 years for both manufacturers and neither is running away from the field as the 777 did. Frankly, given time lines for aircraft I would guess that a new NSA will be launched in 6-7 years for entry in 2026 or so…. and the game wqill begin anew! seems to be silly to to

    • Taking a development span of 5yrs for a new aircraft program, according to your date, this would mean the NSA will have to be launched at around 2021 for EIS in 2026 or so. You’re really telling me that Boeing will launch the NSA about 4/5yrs into the life of the MAX? I severely doubt that and you can quote me on that. A NSA is coming 2030 at the earliest, unless the NEO absolutely destroys the MAX.

  14. put too much stock into sales orders of this magnitude when you are sold out for the future. I am not sure why the 2 do not strive for more profit…

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