It seemed to take an order of epic magnitude, but Boeing finally appears ready to launch a re-engined version of the 737NG. Those in favor of the approach all along can thank American Airlines and, by extension, Airbus, for finally convincing Boeing to jump off the proverbial fence.
CFM International CFM56
Boeing delivered the first 737NG powered by CFM56-7BE turbofans–a 737-800–to China Southern Airlines at Boeing Field in Seattle last week. The new engines, now standard on all new 737s, includes improvements to the high-pressure compressor, a new outlet-guide-vane diffuser, fewer high-pressure-turbine blades and an “optimized” low-pressure turbine.
American Airlines signed a pair of “landmark agreements” to place orders for 460 narrowbody jets from Boeing and Airbus, the airline announced today. Plans call for American to order 260 A320-family aircraft and 200 Boeing 737s, scheduled for delivery starting in 2013 and continuing through 2022.
Boeing needs to “get on with it,” if it is to compete with the Airbus A320neo, according to International Lease Finance Corporation CEO Henri Courpron. The leasing group argued yesterday that the answer may lie in an early Boeing 737-800 upgrade.
Major orders for the new CFM International Leap-X turbofan engine are due to be announced during the first four days of the Paris show, intensifying the battle with Pratt & Whitney to power the Airbus A320neo. “We’re set for this to be one of our best shows ever,” said the company.
Almost three full decades ago a battle was raging over the powerplant options for what was then the all-new Airbus A320. The competitors–CFM International and International Aero Engines (IAE)–were making claim and counter-claim as to the potential advantages their respective engines would bring to the aircraft, which had been developed to grab a slice of the huge single-aisle market until then dominated by the ubiquitous Boeing 737.
GE Aviation announced this week at EBACE that its TechX engine, which Bombardier selected for its Global 7000 and Global 8000, has been rebranded as “Passport.” The first model in what Cincinnati, Ohio-based GE hopes will be a series of turbofans in the 10,000- to 20,000-pound-thrust class will produce up to 16,500 pounds of thrust for the new Global jets.
This year, Toulouse-based Airbus Corporate Jet Centre (Stand 7071) is set to reach its target of a regular annual production rate of three to four cabin deliveries. The Airbus subsidiary specializes in VIP cabin outfitting on the manufacturer’s narrowbodies, and its new products include a conversion kit and a service package for the ACJ family.
Embraer Defense and Security signed contracts for the KC-390 tanker-transport program with two industrial partners who will supply airframe structures.
Boeing’s path for further development of the 737 series doesn’t necessarily include replacing the jet’s CFM56 engines, although that remains an option, according to John Hamilton, 737 chief project engineer. Meanwhile, 737 production continues at escalating rates, and Boeing is adding incremental aerodynamic improvements, as well as the new Sky Interior to keep the line fresh.