China Southern takes delivery of first CFM56-7BE-powered 737

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Boeing has delivered its first Next Generation 737 with updated CFM56-7BE engines, part of an on-going development plan to provide a 2% improvement in fuel burn.

China Southern took delivery of the 737-800 last week with the -7BE engine, now standard on all 737s and includes improved airfoils in the high and low pressure turbines along with new engine cooling techniques. The engine also features fewer parts to help lower maintenance costs.

Boeing introduced a drag reduction package earlier this year that included improved wing control surfaces, revised wheel well fairings and a new anti-collision light, contributing to an approximate .6% improvement in fuel burn.

The updated engine and its updated nozzle will deliver a further 1.2% fuel burn improvement.

An improved ECS exhaust modification, which will bring shave an additional .2% in fuel burn, is expected to improve the total fuel burn by 2% when all the elements are integrated together by 2012.

Flight testing with the modifications began in November 2010 and analysis will take place to "quantify the final benefit to customers," said Boeing.

"We continue to review performance flight test data and collect delivery data," said John Hamilton, vice president and chief project engineer - 737 programme.

Once all the changes are incorporated into the 737, Boeing expects that the narrowbody will be approximately 7% more efficient than the first models delivered in 1998.

The introduction of the updated -7BE engine is separate from the airframer's plan unveiled 20 July to re-engine the 737 by the middle of the decade with a CFM Leap-X powerplant, touting a further 10 to 12% improvement in fuel burn.