DUBAI -- Until now, Boeing has allowed artist to interpret the look off a re-engined 737, taking artistic liberties about what a major update to the narrowbody would look like.
A publicly available Boeing presentation hosted on the website of the Federal Aviation Administration on technologies to improve the environmental footprint of commercial jetliners, may provide an unintentional first-look at one of the potential configurations for a re-engined 737.
The presentation details the airframers plans for the Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise (CLEEN) program designed to use 737s and 787s are demonstrators for new technologies. Slide eight of 25 presents the timeline for the testing, which is set to last through 2014.
On the slide is a series of generic images, including one of a 737 undergoing wind tunnel testing at a Qinetiq facility, which on closer inspection features a landing gear nose blister and significantly larger engines. Could this be one of the 737 re-engining concepts Boeing was wind tunnel testing earlier this year?
According to a engineer close to the development of the 737, Boeing and CFM were wind tunnel testing the airframe and engine changes as recently as April of this year, while another engineer says some of those tests included a nose blister.
Most notable is the addition of a nose blister, which resembles that employed on the Airbus A330-200F, to accommodate the lengthened nose landing gear, which need to grow 8in to raise the larger nacelles to achieve appropriate ground clearance.
John Hamilton, 737 chief engineer, said in an Airshow China interview in Zhuhai last month the design must maintain 17in clearance from the ground to avoid contact with taxiway lighting.
Boeing has toyed with the idea of shifting some of the components in the forward electronics bay to the aft bay to make room for the longer landing gear.
The larger engines, which are almost certainly designed to accommodate the CFM Leap-X, appear to have an elongated nacelle sitting nearly on the same plane as the pylon, shrinking it significantly, allowing the engine to ride higher on the wing.
Boeing Business Jet president Steve Taylor said today a re-engined 737 could boost the range of the VIP configured jetliner as much as 10% over today's 6,200nm, opening a significant number of new city pairs, such as New York to Shanghai/Mumbai/Cape Town, Dubai to Sao Paulo/Miami/Sydney or Los Angeles to Tel Aviv/Sydney/Hong Kong.
Boeing has moved away from this concept in recent months, opting to focus on a series of smaller incremental improvements to the narrowbody, including the new Sky Interior, aerodynamic refinements and updated CFM56-7BE engine.
However, the model provides some insight into the amount of modification required to add the new engine to the wing of the 737. The airframer has promised a decision in 2011 that may give a green light to re-engining, an all new jetliner or another set of incremental improvements to the venerable narrowbody.
Naturally, Flightglobal technical artist Tim Bicheno-Brown took a crack at an artistic interpretation of the wind tunnel model:
Photo Credit Flightglobal/Tim Bicheno-Brown