The first 737 Max will be delivered to launch customer Southwest Airlines in mid-2017, up to six months earlier than Boeing originally scheduled for the re-engined narrowbody.
Boeing vice-president of airplane development Scott Fancher says the first delivery was moved up from late in the fourth quarter of 2017 to early in the third quarter, as the airframer has become more confident of the design and production system.
The acceleration means the transition from the next-generation 737 to the CFM International Leap-1B-powered 737 Max will come sooner, perhaps reducing the number of orders for the older type that Boeing needs to fill the gap.
The 737 Max now will enter the market about two years after the scheduled service debut of the similarly re-engined Airbus A320neo, which was launched about nine months before the Boeing product.
Boeing, however, plans more extensive changes for the 737 Max, including a new advanced technology winglet, re-lofted tail cone, 787-style flight displays and an electronic bleed air system. The larger diameter Leap-1B, meanwhile, means Boeing also must increase the height of the landing gear by 20cm (8in), which drove a re-design of the forward electronics equipment bay in the nose section that encloses the nose gear.
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