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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Boeing Finalizes Design on 737 MAX Series, Announces Component Suppliers

An artist’s conception of the Boeing 737 MAX jet, which the company announced is soon to go into production. Credit: Boeing

Boeing has announced it has finalized design plans for its single-aisle 737 MAX jet series, The Seattle Times reports. The company has also made deals with suppliers that will produce components for the 737 MAX series, while confirming the addition of a third production line to complement its two existing Renton, Wash., lines.

In a media teleconference, Michael Teal, chief project engineer for Boeing’s jet program, confirmed that the 737 MAX designs are complete, with improved visibility for pilots and a streamlined fuselage. Pilots will also benefit from a larger instrument display panel. The nose of the plane was revamped from earlier designs to better accommodate a larger landing gear.

Previously announced design features include “new fuel-efficient LEAP-1B engines from CFM International, raked ‘dual feather’ winglets and a redesigned tail cone.”

Two assembly lines will be joined by a third in Renton, which “will be created mostly by moving and compressing the feeder lines and parts-storage areas now covering the floor alongside one of the current lines, 737 MAX’s program manager and vice president, Beverly Wise, told The Seattle Times.

Boeing will start producing 35 737 MAXs per month, with company projections revealing an increase to 38 per month in the second quarter of 2013 and 42 per month a year after that. Boeing did not comment on the third assembly line’s production rate, although a slower initial rate was expected.

Boeing announced contracts with two major suppliers for key components. Honeywell International Inc. will supply an electronic bleed air system, Reuters reports. This system maintains cabin air pressure and keeps the plane’s wings from getting icy.

Rockwell Collins Inc. will supply the instrument display screens. These screens are already used in other aircraft, including a U.S. Air Force refueling tanker.

To maintain production demands, Boeing will hire hundreds of production workers and engineers over the next five years.

Boeing says the 737 MAX series will optimize fuel efficiency, as jet fuel prices climb and airlines look for ways to cut costs. The series is expecting to compete with the recently announced Airbus A320neo single-aisle jet.

Brian Lane

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