Home' Asian Aviation : AAV February 2011 Contents .04 percent gain in fuel burn. e brakes also last
three times as long as their steel equivalent.
In the mid-2000s, Boeing made several upgrades to the
737's ight deck. Engineers developed a high-altitude
package that Chinese airlines had been seeking ,
improving climb performance at airports 14,000 to
15,000 above sea level, said Hamilton.
"Boeing continues to think outside the box to
cut costs in other ways, working with airlines and
regulators to improve e ciencies," the company said.
In the summer of 2010, for example, a 737-700
was used for ight tests over Puget Sound by the
'Green Skies Project', saving 400lb of fuel and cutting
greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent in tests of more
e cient landing approaches using satellite guidance.
e project was being led by Alaska Airlines, with
the participation of Boeing, the US Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) and the Port of Seattle.
" e savings equals removing more than 4,000
cars o the highways each year, reducing jet-fuel
consumption by 2.1 million gallons annually [and]
cutting carbon emissions by 22,000 metric tons while
curtailing noise," Boeing said.
As the manufacturer seeks more and more
improvements to the aircra , engineers are exploring
new concepts as well as dusting o past ideas to look at
them in the light of new technologies, Hamilton said.
One option being explored now is the introduction of
"If we can find another three to four percent
[reduction in fuel consumption], that is going to be
our challenge," Hamilton said.
He added that the company is still exploring the
option of re-engining the aircra , but is not getting a
strong response from operators. " e customer is not
telling us to go for it," he said.
Customers want fuel-consumption reductions,
but not at any price. e fear is that major technical
changes could snowball into a negative impact on the
aircra 's operational reliability.
"You have to balance technology with the inherent
reliability of the airplane," said Hamilton. Indeed,
reliability was found to be the top concern in a 2009
sur vey of lessors and airlines carried out by CFM.
" e planes have got to be ready to go or the business
model for most low-cost carriers does not work," said
A er reliability, customers sur veyed said they were
most concerned about maintenance costs and engine
time-on-wing. Fuel consumption ranked h among
the customers' priorities.
e market leader in the Next-Generation 737
family is the 737-800, which seats 165-189 passengers
and has gained more than 3,400 orders. But the larger,
extended-range -900ER is gaining as airlines replace
ageing, out-of-production 757s, which are no longer
economical to y.
" e -900ER is a great plane if customers want
capacity. It serves over 90 percent of the markets 757s
are in," said Hamilton.
While the manufacturer strives to improve the aircra 's
operational e ciency and reduce emissions, it has
also been working towards e ciency gains and waste
reduction in the assembly process and supply chain.
Boeing has adopted 'lean' manufacturing principles
rst put into practice by Japanese automaker Toyota
to create its innovative, moving production line.
From 2000 to 2006, Boeing replaced stationary
construction with a line that moves at an average
speed of 2 inches a minute. At the same time, the
factory building was redesigned to encourage better
communication between engineers, administrators
Production workers are encouraged to come
forward with their own ideas for improving
the manufacturing process and rules are in
place to make sure those ideas are given proper
consideration. O ces were installed among the
ra ers above factory oors, so that engineers and
other support personnel could be closer to the
production line, allowing quicker problem-solving
and easier idea-sharing.
The production lines function around the
clock, with special teams ensuring that mechanics
working on the aircra have all the tools and parts
they need at all times, so that no time is wasted
hunting for supplies.
"As many as a million parts in 360,000 assemblies
convert empty fuselage tubes from hollow shells
into ying machines," Boeing said.
ese e ciency-boosting e orts have halved
the production time for a single aircra from 22
days to 11 days -- one reason why Boeing can now
con dently ramp up its production rate to 38 737s
per month in two years.
"A lot is just learning to spot waste ... [and] doing
it right the rst time," said Helene Michael, vice-
president of 737 manufacturing operations.
Boeing started the year 2011 on a high, with
the announcement on 4 January of an order for 38
737NGs from lessor CIT Aerospace, with purchase
rights for an additional seven aircra . Deliveries are
scheduled for completion in 2017 and the order
includes 15 737-900ERs and 23 737-800s.
e manufacturer says the order is the largest
placed by a leasing company to date for the 737-
900ER. It is also the largest ever placed by CIT for
Boeing aircra .
"As a leading aircra lessor, it is important that we
continue to maintain a portfolio of operationally
dependable and fuel-efficient aircraft for our
customers," said C Je rey Knittel, CIT's president
of transportation nance.
"CIT's choice of the Next Generation 737 shows
its con dence in the product family and especially
in its newest member, the 737-900ER," said Marlin
Dailey, vice president of sales and marketing with
Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
CIT's aircra will include the Boeing Sky Interior
and the aerodynamic and engine improvements
"that will keep its airplanes at the leading edge
of passenger comfort, efficient operations and
reduced fuel consumption," Dailey added. n
The 737's Blended Winglet, introduced in 2002, yielded a
fuel-consumption improvement of as much as 4 percent.
36 AsianAviation | FEBRUARY 2011
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