First look: Boeing’s new 737 MAX 8; can it compete with the Airbus A320?

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SEATTLE — It’s all about the winglets.

Boeing has released new photos offering a tantalizing glimpse of the 737 MAX 8 — the first member of the U.S. aviation giant’s new, more efficient single-aisle plane family.

Still under construction in a dedicated new facility at Boeing’s production center in Renton, near Seattle, the first completed 737 MAX is on track to be rolled out by the end of the year.

Boeing hopes the plane’s design will give it the edge it needs to challenge the success of rival Airbus’s year-old A320neo.

It’s a battle that could come down to the new design of its winglets — the distinctive curling shapes at the tip of the aircraft’s wings.

Boeing says these’ll offer up to 1.8% additional fuel-efficiency improvement over today’s inline winglet designs.

737 MAX vs. Airbus A320neo

“It’s just one of the features that differentiate the 737 MAX and make it an amazingly fuel-efficient machine,” says Keith Leverkuhn, vice president and general manager of the 737 MAX program.

The first 737 MAX is scheduled to fly in early 2016, with launch customer Southwest Airlines scheduled to take delivery late in 2017.

Airbus’s A320neo has also got a substantial head start on orders, with 4,100 reported in August 2015, compared to the 737 MAX’s 2,869.

However, with the 737 Max promising to be 20% more fuel-efficient than the current 737, and with Boeing claiming to have operating costs that are 8% lower per seat than its nearest competitor, the 737 Max team will be hoping to close the gap.

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1 Comment

  • davidhoffman5

    I would like for Boeing to design a replacement for the 737 that is a completely new design. No reusing the old fuselage cross section.The double bubble fuselage cross section may have been a necessity back when the first 737 was built, but it certainly is not the optimal fuselage cross section today. I would argue that a circular cross section is more appropriate in terms of manufacture, maintenance, and life cycle costs. Fully enclosed main landing gear would be nice also. Since you no longer use built in stairs, it is time to have that clean design include some relatively tall landing gear. That way you have a nice built in growth potential for fuselage stretches. Seating needs to be radically rethought. ALL seating classes, luxury(first or four across), business(second or less legroom than first four across), and economy(third or 6 across) should have two wide arm rests for each seat. NO sharing of armrests. The continuous width aisle needs to be as wide as an individual first class seat from outer edge of the armrest to outer edge of the armrest.

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