Boeing aims to minimise 737 Max changes

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With the development of its re-engined 737 Max, Boeing aims to limit the scope of work to changes directly related to the integration of the CFM International Leap-1B engine.

"There are a lot of things we could do with the airplane, but what we want to do is limit the scope of work," said Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive officer Jim Albaugh.

"And we're going to limit the scope of work associated with the engine. I've told my team I don't want to hear 'simple' and 're-engine' in the same phrase," he added. "But we're going to make this the simplest re-engine possible."

Albaugh said in addition to the new engine, Boeing will offer a new auxiliary power unit tail cone for drag reduction.

Boeing's renderings of the 737 Max also feature reshaped flap fairings, as well as APU tail cone lights similar to those on the 787.

Albaugh also said Boeing plans no changes to the 737 Max's flight deck: "The one thing we do want to make sure we have with this airplane is compatibility with the NG, compatibility with airplanes we've already delivered. What customers have told us is don't touch the cockpit, and our plans are not to do that."

Additionally, Albaugh anticipates limiting the amount of re-certification work required on the 737 Max: "Those are some questions we're going to have to work with the FAA, our expectations is that there will be a certification issue, but it will have to do with the engine and nothing more."

However, while Boeing intends to work to limit the scope of work on the 737 Max, Albaugh said the airframer plans to introduce limited fly-by-wire for the narrowbody for the first time, a traditionally costly undertaking both in dollars and certification requirements.

"There are a couple of things we're going to make a more fly-by-wire than they are today, but very minimal things, very minimal," he said.

Product development plans for the 737 have indicated a move toward fly-by-wire spoilers that industry sources speculate could be used for manoeuvre load alleviation to increase the aircraft's maximum take-off weight.

The three-model 737 Max, replacing the Next-Generation 737 with the 737-7, -8 and -9, was launched by Boeing yesterday.