Boeing has quietly developed plans to roll-out a performance improvement package for the 737 Max family nearly five years after the first member of the type enters service.
The undisclosed package will improve maximum listed range values between 1.69-2.7%, depending on the variant of the 737 Max.
Boeing plans to deliver the first 737 Max 8 to Southwest Airlines in the first half of next year with 3,515nm range. An “improvement performance level” available after 2021 will improve range by 2.7% to 3,610nm.
The 737 Max 9 will enter service a year later with 3,510nm range, but will improve by 2.56% after 2021 to 3,605nm.
Finally, the 737 Max 7 enters service in 2019 with 3,850nm range, including an extra 500nm boost added by a 1.83m (6ft) extension of the fuselage unveiled last July. Its range will improve by 1.69% on the 737 Max 7 after 2021.
The improved values for the 737 Max were shown on a chart that Boeing displayed at the Farnborough air show, but the data largely escaped attention. A message in small type at the bottom of the slide reads: “737 Max with improved performance level. Available in 2021.”
More recently, the performance improvement package was cited as part of Boeing’s roll-out of the Boeing Business Jet version of the 737 Max 7 at the NBAA convention in Orlando on 30 October. Delivery of the first BBJ version of the 737 Max 7 was scheduled in 2022 in order for that version to benefit from the improved performance levels, says David Longridge, president of Boeing Business Jets.
Longridge and Boeing officials decline to elaborate on the details of the performance improvements. Boeing advertises the 737 Max 8 with a 14% lower fuel burn than the 737-800, with 10-12% of the improvement delivered by the CFM Leap-1B engine.
Boeing says the plan to deliver a performance improvement package less than five years after entry into service is part of the company’s normal upgrade cycle, rather than an attempt to make up for any performance shortfalls.
“We’re meeting all our targets on MAX to date and we anticipate exceeding our initial, high performance targets over time, as the airplane enters service and our operational knowledge grows,” Boeing says.