A running change in Boeing’s current generation 737 airliners is saving airlines up to two percent more fuel, Boeing says a year after the upgraded airliners began rolling out of the company’s Renton assembly plant.
What Boeing calls its “Performance Improvement Package” combines both aerodynamic upgrades and engine improvements to the popular 737 Next Generation design. Those improvements include such changes as more aerodynamic anti-collision lights, streamlined slat and spoiler trailing edges, ski-jump wheel well fairings re-contoured to smooth the air flow near the main landing gear and enhancements to the CFM engine.
More than 420 Next-Generation 737s have now been delivered with the improvement package, which Boeing provides at no cost to airlines ordering the new aircraft.
“The Performance Improvement Package has contributed to a remarkable fuel mileage improvement compared to the non-PIP airplanes,” said Takeshi Katsurada, vice president of flight operations engineering for Japan Airlines. “We can validate its improvement through each delivery flight performance monitoring and also daily flight operations monitoring to the extent of more than 2 percent fuel mileage improvement.”
Boeing still has another fuel-improving trick up its sleeve before the company begins moving to production of its fully upgraded 737 Max in 2016. That final element of the package, a redesigned environmental control system exhaust vent, is scheduled for mid-2013.
While the Performance Improvement Package involves minor tweaks to the long-lived 737 design, the Max will include more major revisions, a new engine, recontouring the aft fuselage for less drag and new split wingtips to cut drag-producing vortexes at the wingtips.
The Max, Boeing says, will improve fuel efficiency by 13 percent over present generation single-aisle airliners.