Boeing MAX program progresses well

Discussion

Leverkuhn said many of the testing that “imposes significant risk, like flutter,” is done. A lot of the systems testing is complete.

The CFM LEAP-1A test engines on the test MAXes will not be the production engines that will be delivered to customers beginning next summer, Leverkuhn said. “There’s been conversation around the engines, but we’re doing it across the airplane.

“We know this airplane has to hit service with a very, very high level of reliability,” he said. “So every opportunity we get to increase the durability of the engine and the durability of the engine, we’re doing.”

He said CFM has identified some opportunity to make the engine have greater on-wing life, he said. “We’re going to roll that in and make sure it’s part of the normal procedure, which we already have done. We [also] doing that as part of the systems. Any time we see an opportunity to improve something, we’re doing it.”

The CFM56 has unparalleled on-wing time, with some engines reaching 25,000 or 26,000 hours before removal. The new LEAP isn’t expected to achieve this out of the box, but Leverkuhn says he companies are focused at this point on reliability and availability, “making sure that airplane is going to go when we said it was going to go.” Ownership costs comparable with the CFM56 are also a major goal.

“We certainly anticipate” that fuel burn will be on specification when the MAX enters service next year, Leverkuhn said

More MAX derivatives

Although there have been a number of media stories about a “MAX 10,” Leverkuhn said there is no MAX 10—yet.

“There are studies for the high end and the low end” of the MAX family, he said. “There is a lot of emphasis on the low end,” he said.

“We have been talking about the idea of a growth 7,” said Leverkuhn. “From my point of view, can we accomplish a larger 7 and keep it within the confines of the program we currently have? The answer is yes.

“Now we get it over to John Wojick (VP of Sales) is this what the customers want? If they do, then we can execute it.”

Larger derivatives and the Middle of the Market aircraft are another story, Leverkuhn said. “These are things that are constantly in play. What are the customers telling us in terms of what they would want? You’ll hear more from [Mike] Delaney [head of aircraft programs] on Tuesday. I think if we focus on the smaller segment, can we do it within the confines of what we’ve got? Yes. If there is something larger, that’s a whole different ball of wax.”

Leverkuhn said Boeing has studied a larger 7 significantly more than a 737 that’s larger than the MAX 9 (commonly called the MAX 10). “The larger airplane is still very much a study airplane. It’s very difficult for me to talk about from a program execution.”

Ramping up MAX production

Boeing is building the MAX on the “central” line at its Renton (WA) factory, while the NG is built on what are now called the East and West lines. Leverkuhn said that as the MAX begins to dominate production, it will migrate to the East line before eventually consuming all three lines in 2019.

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