Home' Asian Aviation : AAV October 2011 Contents AsianAviation | OCTOBER 2011 37
not to change the cockpit and “our plans are not to
do that”. On the question of certification, Albaugh
acknowledges that “there are some questions we’re
going to have to work [through] with the Federal
Engineering efforts for the L eap -1B re-engining are
in the hands of Vice-President and General Manager
Bob Feldmann, who most recently manag ed Boeing’s
Sur veillance and Engagement business. His deputy is
Vice-President, Chief Project Engineer and Deputy
Programme Manag er Michael Teal, who has come
from the 747-8 programme.
Since the launch, major 737 operator Southwest
Airlines has been analysing the ne w variant. The
carrier’s Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly says
that the low-cost carrier is “engaging with [the
manufacturer] to try to understand the aircraft”.
As always, Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair – Boeing ’s
largest 737 export customer – is looking for maximum
economy, and has said it will not be interested unless
re-engined aircraft offer fuel savings of “somewhere
near 10 percent”.
Since launch customer American will receive its
first re-engined machine only in 2018, it is clear that
another airline will inaug urate ser vices. Albaugh does
not rule out current customers switching orders,
suggesting that they might want to “take a hard look”
at the ne w machine. (Airbus refuses to allow such
flexibility with its A320neo.)
Most of the carriers committing to the re-engined
Boeing 737 operate outside the USA and are “the
top airlines in the world”, claims Albaugh. Apart
from American, the other four committed customers
are b elieves to b e among the Boeing faithful : Alaska
Airlines, Copa, Delta Air Lines, FlyDubai, Gol, Lion
Air, Malaysia Airlines, Nor wegian Air Shuttle, Ryanair,
Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and TUI Travel.
The Leap-1B-powered 737 has g enerally met a
positive response from the financial world. Moody’s
suggests that the development costs “won’t be
anywhere near the level of ... building an entirely new
airframe”, while Credit Suisse equity research analysts
say the airline interest is “above exp ectations and a
very positive indicator of demand for what has been
viewed as a ‘me-too’ offering”.
Wedbush analyst Kenneth Herbert believes that
Boeing share prices could rise as other manufacturing
problems and delays are overcome, while Jefferies
analyst Howard Rubel says that the new model tackles
“a fundamental weakness in Boeing’s offerings”.
As of late September, the industry was awaiting a
decision on the new engine’s fan diameter for the 737
application. It was expected to be 66 or 68 inches. The
larger of the sizes could require some nose landing-
gear changes to maintain a minimum 17-inch nacelle
Current CFM56-7BE engines with a 61-in
fan offer six inches of margin. Albaugh says no
modification is needed if a 66-in fan is selected, but
he concedes that, with the larger diameter, there is “a
very low probability we’ll have to ‘touch’ the front
gear”. Albaugh acknowledges that a larger fan would
provide better efficiency because of the higher bypass
ratio, but “also what you find with the bigger fan is
that you get more weight and more drag ”.
Apparently anticipating a compromise, the Boeing
official says that if the largest fan is chosen “we have
that built into our reser ve for the development of
this programme and we have it built into the reser ve
for the schedule “. A Leap -1B with a 66-inch fan is
expected to offer 13-14 percent better spe cific fuel
consumption than a CFM56-7B with a 61-inch fan
does on current 737s.
Analysts at Jefferies suggest the CFM solution is
“likely to r un hotter and may need to eliminate a
compressor stage to stay within weight tolerances”.
The 2017 ser vice-entry date is seen as permitting time
for full consideration of both options.
A dissenting voice is that of David Hess, chief
executive of Pratt & Whitney Engines, manufacturer
of the competing PW1400G geared turbofan engine.
He says that while Boeing expects to see an all-new
single- aisle design in the 2020s, the manufacturer
might “not be able to wait that long , because the
engine it has chosen is too small. If they feel they don’t
have a competitive airplane, they may be forced to
accelerate or look at their plans for a [new aircraft]”.
Finally, another decision for Boeing is the site for
manufacture of the new 737 variant, which might
not be built at Renton where all previous 737s have
been constructed. It expects to announce a decision
in about six to eight months’ time from its late-
Aug ust launch date. “[As] on any new programme,
we’re taking the opportunity to [decide] where we
do the work. Our Renton facility has demonstrated
we know how to build this airplane, but we are going
to look at other sites”.
There is no shortag e of offers from points all over
Boeing’s home state of Washington and further afield.
A number of county and city councils and ag encies
and a trade-union district lodge are contributing
funds to a US$600,000 study to keep Boeing’s next
aircraft in Washington State.
State and Snohomish County representatives want
to see the new Boeing plant brought to Everett’s Paine
Field as part of larger plans to expand local aerospace
training and reduce reg ulatory manufacturing
hurdles. Elsewhere in Washington, the Port of
Bremerton is lobbying on behalf of Bremerton
National Airport on Kitsap Peninsula , where there
are more than 1,000 acres of available land. Another
bidder is Long Beach in southern California , where
Boeing employs approximately 5,000 workers at the
former McDonnell Douglas plant.
Questions remain about the new powerplant’s fan size.
Behind Boeing’s change
For a long time, Boeing favoured a clean-sheet
New Small Airplane (NSA), which it continued to
study long after Airbus launched the A320neo
last December. Two product-development teams
studied the NSA and an alternative re-engined
737NG. Six months ago [April], Boeing said the
NSA was “the leader in the clubhouse”.
Major factors in Boeing’s change of mind were
the need to participate in American Airlines’
re-equipment plans and the enormous market
response to the Airbus A320neo. Enthusiasm
for the NSA, which would have been introduced
around 2019-20, was offset by reservations
about suppliers’ abilities to accommodate a new
aircraft while accelerating other production lines.
An earlier 737 re-engining study, dubbed 737RE,
used a 70-inch fan that required an 8-inch nose
landing-gear extension to ensure sufficient
nacelle ground clearance. The longer gear would
have forced further structural changes: to the
rear fuselage and empennage and in the Section
41 forward-fuselage lower lobe, which would
have needed a modified electrical-equipment bay.
30/09/11 9:33 PM
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