Boeing announced last week that it will re-engine its most popular commercial plane, the 737, making the new plane more energy efficient. The announcement concluded months of speculation over whether Boeing would re-engine the narrowbody plane or launch a brand new plane altogether.
Earlier in the year it appeared Boeing was planning on building a new plane from scratch with officials publicly acknowledging that was the plan. But with the missteps of the 787 hanging over the company’s head, the more conservative decision to simply re-engine the current 737 was too tempting. Boeing emphasized that while the plane is not a brand new design, it will take advantage of many new technologies that have developed over recent years.
We call it the 737 MAX because it optimizes everything we and our customers have learned about designing, building, maintaining and operating the world’s best single-aisle airplane.”
The 737 MAX will deliver big fuel savings that airlines will need to successfully compete in the future. Airlines will benefit from a 7 percent advantage in operating costs over future competing airplanes as a result of optimized CFM International LEAP-1B engines, more efficient structural design and lower maintenance requirements.
The 737 Max will compete with Airbus’ own re-engined A320, the A320neo which will launch in 2015. According to Reuters, Airbus’ sales chief Jim Leahy was quick to criticize Boeing’s new plane.
“Once again, Boeing is in denial,” Leahy told Reuters. “The re-engined 737 cannot possibly match the fuel efficiency and maintenance cost savings of the A320neo family. We’ll see the real world results in our order books.”
Boeing announced that it has received nearly 500 orders for the new plane which is expected to debut in 2017.