Aviation analyst Scott Hamilton reports that Boeing is considering a major upgrade of its popular 737 before it develops a new single-aisle aircraft to replace the workhorse plane.
The upgraded 737, a fourth generation of an aircraft originally designed in the 1960s, would feature more fuel efficient engines, perhaps Pratt & Whitney’s new geared turbo-fans or CFM’s new generation engine.
If Boeing picks the geared engine, which is larger in diameter than the 737’s present CFM engines, it could require substantial revisions to the design: new, taller landing gear to increase the clearance between the engine and the runway and perhaps a new wing and wing box.
Any such update, of course, would include an updated cockpit and passenger amenities.
Boeing and its rival, Airbus, have repeatedly delayed complete redesigns of their popular 737 and A320 aircraft saying the science of aircraft design hasn’t advance enough yet to prompt the expenditure of billions of dollars to produce an aircraft only 10 percent or so more efficient than the planes being built now.
A fourth-generation 737 would mean postponing the new single-aisle design until at least 2020 and give Boeing’s Renton plant at least that much more longevity.
The Renton plant produces that 737. Boeing has said it likely will consider the Renton plant and other sites around the country for assembly of a totally new single-aisle plane.