Near future

Our employees in Renton are getting ready for the first 737 MAX to enter the 737 production system next year. Thanks to a loan from our engine supplier CFM International, a full-scale model of the all-new LEAP-1B engine, the exclusive engine for the 737 MAX, is on display in the 737 factory through December. This gives our employees a chance to glimpse part of their near future with the new single-aisle airplane.

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A full-scale model of the LEAP-1B engine, the exclusive powerplant for the new 737 MAX, is on display in our Renton factory. Photo by Jim Anderson.

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A steady stream of employees checking out the model to see what the near future will bring with the 737 MAX. Photo by Jim Anderson.

The LEAP-1B engine combines the fuel efficiency technology developed and proven on widebody engines such as the GE90 (777) and GEnx (787) with the industry-leading reliability of the CFM56 family. Improvements come from highly durable, light-weight materials and improved airfoil technology. The engine, combined with the Advanced Technology winglets and aero improvements, contributes the majority of the 14 percent fuel efficiency gain over today’s most efficient single-aisle airplanes.

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Leaders on the 737 MAX program visit the model powerplant. Photo by Jim Anderson.

The model is on display across from the current CFM56 engine build up area in the factory so employees can see how the engines differ.The LEAP-1B is 69 inches in diameter compared to 61 inches on the CFM56. The 737 MAX design, including a new strut and pylon, uses technology similar to what was used on the 787 to better integrate the engine with the wing effectively reducing drag.

Falling fuel prices

As the price of crude oil keeps dropping, you may be wondering what that means for an industry focused on bringing newer, more fuel-efficient airplanes to the market. Here are a few thoughts on how I see the issue.

An airplane is a 20 year plus investment. We believe efficiency and capability will always drive market demand— regardless of where fuel prices trend to over the long term.

Case in point, the 787. We closed the business case and launched the airplane when oil was at $40 a barrel.

And between 2005-2007, when oil averaged $60 a barrel, we booked more than 3,000 commercial airplane orders.

As we talk with our customers, we aren’t seeing any desire to change fleet plans due to the drop in oil prices. IATA is out with new figures showing that airlines are more profitable—which means they can grow in new areas with a larger fleet.

Even in a low price fuel environment, it’s hard to argue that 15 to 20 percent better fuel efficiency isn’t a good thing. And that’s exactly what our products offer.

Reality check

There’s been a lot of talk lately about a replacement for the 757. The fact is, today’s 737 and other airplanes its size already fly 90 percent of flights that used to be operated with a 757. And in the future, that number will jump to 95 percent thanks to airplanes like the 737 MAX.

For example, take Norwegian Airlines. They recently announced plans to use the 737 MAX 8 on transatlantic routes beginning in 2017. Other large 757 operators have publicly noted their continued discussions with Boeing around airplanes for transatlantic missions.

Meanwhile, Airbus claims its proposed long ranger version of the A321neo is a true 757 replacement. In reality, it falls short in two big ways. It can’t match the 757’s range, and it can’t carry as many passengers.

The 737 MAX 9 and the A321neoLR are both capable of North Atlantic range by adding auxiliary tanks, with the 737 MAX 9 flying the mission more efficiently. The A321neoLR needs three auxiliary tanks and increased takeoff weight— while the 737 MAX 9 could do the mission with just one auxiliary tank, allowing for more cargo space.

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The 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9.

The 737 MAX is a great airplane that’s sized right for the heart of the single-aisle market— along with the right range capabilities. It’s a key part of our overall product development strategy, that along with the 777X and 787-10, is set for the next decade.

As for that space in between the upper end of the 737 and the 787-8, we continue to talk with our customers to better understand their needs in the future.

Ending November

As we head into the final weeks of 2014, the orders race is beginning to tighten just as I predicted.

We added 224 net orders to our books in the month of November, bringing our net total to 1,274 (through Dec. 2). That includes the big MAX orders from Ryanair and SMBC Aviation Capital.

The 737 MAX continues to build momentum with 2,557 total orders since its launch. We started the year with 32 MAX customers, and grew that to 54 today.

Our factories and delivery centers continue to be very busy. We stood at 647 deliveries through the end of November. During the same period a year ago, we had 580 deliveries. It proves we’re executing on our production rate increases and getting more airplanes into the hands of our customers. In fact, we’re on track to out-deliver the competition on both single-aisle and widebody airplanes.

Thanks to all of our customers as we head down the home stretch of 2014.

Mamma Mia!

It’s hard to believe, but LOT’s 787 fleet has now carried more than half a million people. And to celebrate, the airline had some fun with a very unsuspecting passenger.

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As the 500,000th passenger checked in for his flight, a flash mob performed songs from the musical “Mamma Mia!” right in the middle of Warsaw Chopin Airport. Whether you’re a fan of ABBA or not, the video below is a must-see.

Congratulations to LOT and their lucky passenger. By the way, the 787 fleet has now flown more than 31 million passengers in total.

 

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