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.