New single aisles on home stretch

By Bjorn Fehrm

16 Sep 2015, © Leeham Co.: Boeing released pictures yesterday of the first 737 MAX 8 being on the Renton Final Assembly Line (FAL) having completed the wing-to-body joins. With the Airbus A320neo now flying again with both Pratt & Whitney GTF and CFM LEAP test vehicles and Bombardier completing 85% on CSeries (having passed 2,400 hours of flight testing), one can say the new single aisles are on their home stretch.

737 MAX wing join with pylon

737 MAX on the Final Assembly Line at Renton, Seattle. Source: Boeing.

Original planning had the CSeries entering service in December 2013, nearly two years before A320neo (October 2015) and four years before the 737 MAX (4Q2017). With the 737 MAX now on the FAL one can start to review the Entry into Service (EIS) for all three. It will be tighter than the companies have said.

The joining of the wings to the 737 MAX fuselage with the engine pylons on (struts in US English) and with mounted winglets shows that the first MAX test aircraft is making good progress. Boeing said initially that the MAX 8 would enter service in 4Q2017. This has since been improved to 3Q2017. Comparing the 737 MAX program with the A320neo, EIS 3Q2017 seems conservative as well.

After the debacle with the 787 communication (over-promise, under-deliver) Boeing has decided to adopt an under-promise and over-achieve program planning/communication style for its subsequent aircraft programs. This may mean we will see still further improvements for the MAX EIS.

Comparing with the Airbus A320neo program, it had wing join on the FAL March 2014 with first flight in September 2014, a six month delay. Boeing now says the MAX will start test flying early 2016. Depending on what “early 2016” is this means a delay of 4-6 months, i.e. at worst the same time delay as Airbus.

Airbus original planning was for delivery 13 months after start of flight test, or in October this year. With the standstill this summer of the first test aircraft with Pratt Whitney’s GTF for a full three months (due to a clip working loose in the middle of the engine), the planned EIS is now after 15 months. The 737 MAX has only one engine to qualify compared to two for the A320neo. Therefore it should not take longer to qualify the MAX than the 320neo; the complexity of the programs are comparable.

Add 12-15 months to “early 2016” and we speak spring-to-late spring 2017. Boeing launched the program with a target EIS of 4Q2017 and already advanced this to 3Q2017 (believed to be July). Market Intelligence indicates Boeing wants to further advance deliveries into 2017 from 2018, suggesting either a more rapid ramp-up for MAX production or an earlier EIS than is publicly communicated.

It remains to be seen what will be the actual entry into service date for the MAX, but it is likely it will be around 18 months after the A320neo and about a year after the CSeries. This means the span of the entry into service for the new/re-engined single aisles will compress to less than half, from the initial four years to a year and a half.

The neo, MAX and CSeries will cut fuel consumption by 15%-20% on an aircraft level and reduce noise considerably. The CSeries did overflight tests over Toronto’s downtown Billy Bishop Airport last week. The CSeries created less noise than the BBD Q400 that operate at the airport today. Rather than the better operating economics noticed by the airlines, the lower noise levels will be what the traveling public will remember from the EIS of the new single aisles.

25 Comments on “New single aisles on home stretch

  1. Re. your last sentence…

    It could be the effect of the lower noise levels on the non-travelling public that is most important.

    [In terms of better access to city airports currently severely limited in movements by noise restrictions.]

    • That probably is uncalled for optimism ;-/
      Rise in protest goes hand in hand with noise reduction in airplanes. ( compare times of the Rhein Main Airbase noise levels and current FRA operations and protests.)
      Looks like as long as residents can see the planes they also hear them ( and find judges that feel for them).

  2. Does Boeing have and LEAP 1-B’s to put on the MAX yet? Last I read, it was still in flight test in Victorville and meeting “expectations” whatever that means.

  3. I welcome this news but is still risk that Boeing with its new engine? What is its proven reliability ? And its precise fuel consumption against the GTF ? And what about this new entry into service of MAX ? Does this mean that the people of Boeing have information on the imminent release of a CS500 ?

    • I am still skeptical about the CS500. Bombardier is still in cash-preservation mode and the CSeries program will be cash negative for some years to come. And the low production rate will not help. And developing a stretch is not that cheap considering integration and and system.

      For the Leap-1B, this engine is the smallest variant, being 69.4in in diameter comparatively to 78in for the Leap-1A and -1B.

      • If Bombardier had the money, it’d be a no brainer.

        Financing the design/development is an enormous hurdle to overcome right now.

        Getting the CS100 into service on time and performing well may induce a few more orders and hence encourage potential bond-holders enough to allow BBD to do it.

      • BBDs balance sheet is under stress for sure, but the Cseries is burning cash, not only for development, but for inventory and all the expensive tooling acquired to move into production. Based on past history a CS500 will be a CS300 with plugs inserted. So they can actually take their current test fleet and mod it. The 500 will not be launched without a big launch order IMHO. The completion of the C development will reduce cash burn quite massively, to the tune of 800M/year, so even the marginal cash + value of the initial production can make this company cash+.

        • I think the CS500 can become a successfull aircraft in combination with the CS300 for airlines / routes that do not benefit from LD3 / pallet revenues.

          As a one for one replacement of A320 it lacks commonality with large fleets and bigger aircraft.

          That said the 120-160 seats up to 2-3 hours segment is large enough.

          Above that capacity, cargo capability and fleetcommonality becomes more important.

          A CS300 can do do transcon technically, its just too small for a decent two/three class product.

      • Yes, Jacques, but Bombardier has already spent $ 9 billions ! I can not believe that we will ask a group of engineers to work on two models while thinking do not take the necessary measures for bigger models. For me, the CS500 model is already a project and Bombardier must provide start soon for precisely the money coming from … 2018 with EIS 4Q2017 ! I find personally suspect that Boeing’s strategy to exit much earlier than expected the MAX models…

        • And I repeat : we do not spend $ 1 billion to build a plant and produce only one type of wing ! I think a CS700 , 900 and 1000 could share another wing , which can accommodate LD3 of Keesje ! 🙂

          • To take LD3 it would need a new fuselage, and it would be so wide it would be 3+3 pax.

            I don’t see BBD making that jump in the short-to-medium term.

          • I agree with you, Brendan. Bombardier must accumulate a war chest with the sale of CS100,300 and 500. I read somewhere that Bombardier has acquired machine tools capable of manufacturing larger parts. I wish that Bombardier will find the perfect balance to produce 2x2x2 with such future models (700, 900 , etc.)…

  4. ***The neo, MAX and CSeries will cut fuel consumption by 15%-20%***

    Bombardier is claiming that the C Series has 10% better fuel consumption than its re-engined competitors. The company has also announced a further 4% fuel burn improvement from 2018.

    This is because the C Series is an all-new aircraft using up-to-date weight saving technologies and more efficient aerodynamics.

    Of course, there is more than one way to skin the fuel-burn cat, but the C Series’ fuel burn performance can hardly be lumped together with the neo and Max. Results might be tighter with the E2, which will be using a new wing.

  5. I see that the MAX has an ongoing problem with the choice (or limited choice) of engine. the Leap-1B has a reported shortfall in performance. if as is suggested that performance shortfall is eliminated then the improvements should substantially also migrate to the Leap-1A meaning that the NEO benefits as well. Further the GTF appears to be the way to go long-term and has the greater development potential.

    So the max is already in a position where it is boxed in by the NEO on the Leap and from what I am reading will progressively lose out to the Cseries and NEO which are equipped with the GTF. Can anyone enlighten me as to how the MAX expects to be competitive as I don’t see it

    • One shall not view BPR as a total panacea, it increases the propulsive efficiency but it increases engine weight and drag as well. The MAX also has a more modern wing than A320 (about 10 years younger) and more advanced winglets. If CFM hits the LEAP-1B targets to EIS the A320neo will have a run for its money.

      • The wing on the 737NG may be “newer” than the wing on the A32X, but it was nevertheless designed with quite a few constraints. Hence, it was not an all new wing. For example, the centre wing box was not changed geometrically and the engine to fuselage centreline on the 737NG was retained. In fact, it’s 4.83m (i.e. 15 ft 10 in) on the 737-100 through to the 737-900 and the MAX. In comparison, the engine to fuselage centreline is 5.75m on the A32X-series and 6.48m on the 757.

        Thus, the low ground clearance on the 737NG and 737MAX is primarily due the 737NG wing geometry (i.e. rearward sweep of the aft wing spar etc.) and the decision to keep the engine to fuselage centreline on the 737NG unchanged – thus leading to less space available in the yehudi for a longer landing gear – was IMJ a good example of a lack of future-proofing on the part of Boeing. Even if they would have wanted to maintain the low ground clearance on the 737NG – merely by moving the engines outboard – the engines on the MAX could IMJ have been marginally bigger thanks to the wing dihedral.

        Finally, therefore, it’s probably not correct to assume that the wing on the 737NG was more “advanced” than the full fly-by-wire A320-wing with its uninterrupted trailing edge, single-slotted flaps etc. – just because the former was designed a decade, or so, later.

      • Bjorn,

        thanks for putting that in perspective, something we forget.

        A320 borrowed the winglet form Aviation Partners and Boeing went to the split winglet (should have gone to the Scimitar of AP as it far cooler looking and at least as efficient if not more so and that’s my opinion not fact)

        And OV-99s arguments aside it is a new more efficient wing and we all know about the engine issue.

        Still leaves Airbus with an ace or two in the hole and that’s a new wing and or a new composite wing.

        Seems like they can respond to an all new Boeing with a further derive A320 and be extremely competitive with it

      • “One shall not view BPR as a total panacea, it increases the propulsive efficiency but it increases engine weight and drag as well.”

        In that case Airbus better puts the flattened 69.4 inch LEAP-B under that old NEO wing instead of that heavy, drag generating 78 inch LEAP-A!

        Maybe even go to a 65 inch fan: saving extra weight 😀

  6. The Leap A will have about 4% better specific fuel consumption than a same thrust Leap B, everything else being the same. Just because of the higher propulsive efficiency helped by the -A’s higher bypass ratio. Physics that won’t go away..

  7. I am curious about the MAX being mentioned in the context of reduced noise, I know it is quieter then the current engines, but it has a much lower bypass ratio then the Purepower so it cannot be as quiet. I expect the noise in Cseries and Purepower NEO cabin will be much reduced as well. Perhaps to the degree of sitting at the front in an MD-80.

    • Going back to the 45 degree cant of the 744 or A340. Is it all science, or whatever the ouija board says?

      • Just to add: afair the initialy shown split/scimitar wingtip devices looked more like a down/outward spur grafted onto a regular blended winglet.
        These look much more like a (ladies) fan. each straight element sprouting from the same axis. The next iteration could well have 3 or 4 tips ;-?

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