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Boeing 737 Next Generation family receives US FAA approval for short-field modification package

By Mary Kirby in Philadelphia

A package of design enhancements that increase the short-field performance of Boeing’s 737 Next Generation family has received US Federal Aviation Administration certification, and is expected to be soon certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

The enhancements, which Boeing began flight testing on a 737-800 in January, allow operators to fly increased payload in and out of airports with runways shorter than 1,525m (5,000ft).

They include a two-position tail skid that enables reduced approach speeds, sealed leading-edge slats that provide increased lift during takeoff, and increased flight spoiler deflection on the ground that improves take-off and landing performance, says Boeing.

The US aircraft manufacturer initially launched the programme to enable Brazilian carrier Gol to operate larger -800s into the restricted 1,315m-long runway of Rio de Janeiro’s Santos Dumont airport.

Later this week, Boeing will deliver the refurbished test aircraft to Gol - the first of 67 -800s ordered by the carrier.

Ten other companies have ordered the design package, which will be standard on the 737-900ER and offered as an option on the -600, -700 and -800. These are Alaska Airlines, Air Europe, Air India, Egyptair, GE Commercial Aviation Services (GECAS), Hapagfly, Japan Airlines, Pegasus Airlines, Sky Airlines and Turkish Airlines.

“Our ultimate goal is to help our customers succeed by offering them products that add value to their operations. The 737’s short-field performance enhancements will allow airlines to generate more revenue,” says Boeing vide president and general manager of 737 aircraft production Mark Jenkins.

The enhancements increase payload capability for landing up to 3,630kg (8,000lb) on the -800 and -900ER and up to 1,815kg on the -600 and -700. They also increase payload capability for takeoff up to 900kg on the -800 and -900ER and up to 180kg on the -600 and -700.

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