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Boeing begins certification testing on 737 performance improvements

A Boeing (NYSE: BA) Next-Generation 737-800 in the new United Airlines livery successfully completed its first test flight late last week, signifying the start of certification for a package of 737 performance improvements. Testing and certification will continue through April 2011. Aerodynamic and engine changes included in the package will reduce fuel consumption by 2 percent. Boeing is phasing the changes into production mid-2011 through early 2012.

One percent of the savings comes from reducing resistance as air flows around the airplane. The upper and lower anti-collision lights change from round to a more aerodynamic, elongated teardrop shape. Wheel-well fairings are re-contoured to smooth the air flow near the main landing gear. A redesign of the environmental control system, exhaust vent and streamlined wing slat and spoiler trailing edges round out the aerodynamic changes.

CFM is introducing the new CFM56-7BE engine enhancement program to coincide with Boeing's airframe changes. Low- and high-pressure turbine modifications will result in a 1 percent reduction in fuel consumption. In addition, Boeing is optimizing the engine's primary nozzle and plug. Together, the changes result in cooler-running engines that may provide up to 4 percent lower maintenance costs.

Watch video of the first certification test flight and learn how engineers came up with the design improvements here: http://bit.ly/a8T9oM.

Boeing's continuous efforts to improve the Next-Generation 737 family have resulted in an accumulated 5 percent gain in fuel efficiency since the first airplane was delivered in 1998. The new improvements will give operators an airplane that is 7 percent more efficient than the first Next-Generation 737s delivered.

In late October, Boeing delivered its first two Next-Generation 737-800s with the new Boeing Sky Interior. The interior features new cove lighting and curving architecture that create a more open feel in the cabin. Updated sidewalls and window reveals add a modern feel, and larger stowage bins enable passengers to store more luggage while giving them more headroom. Deliveries to new operators continue each month.

Press release issued by Boeing Commercial Airplanes on November 16, 2010


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CFM International Inc. Turbofan Engines


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