Boeing has eliminated a bump in the 737 Max’s nose profile to accomodate a lengthened landing gear and added larger cockpit display screens to handle future changes in instrumentation in the latest version of plane revealed today.
Those changes were made as Boeing engineers refine the design of the newest version of the popular single-aisle plane, the world’s most popular jetliner. The 737 Max is due to enter airline service for the first time in 2017.
Beverly Wyse, 737 vice president and general manager, said those changes were the latest to have “earned their way onto the airplane.”
The most visible change from earlier design concepts is the elimination of the wheel well bump added to accomodate a nose gear extended by eight inches. That nose gear was lengthened to increase the ground clearance of the larger diameter engines Boeing will install on the Max.
The newest 737 Max has no nosewheel bump
Michael Teal, the 737 Max chief project engineer, said the way the lengthened gear folds into the wheel well was changed and radial tires were made standard equipment on the gear to allow the gear to fit into the existing wheel well. Conventional bias ply tires, now specified by only a small fraction of customers of the existing 737 grow in size at high altitude where atmospheric pressure is less. Radial tires with multiple reinforcing plies don’t expand as much requiring less space inside the wheel well.
The larger cockpit screens can be reconfigured to display a variety of instrumentation that can change as technology evolves.
Boeing says the 737 Max will have 13 percent better fuel economy than present generation 737s. In addition to new engines and cockpit displays, the Max will feature new split wingtips, a modified tailcone, more electronic flight surface actuators and other aerodynamic improvements.
In other updates, Wyse said the company is moving forward to create a third production line at its Renton plant where all 737s are built. That line will initially be used to build the eight 737 Max test aircraft and then to gradually work the kinks out of the initial production of the modified aircraft before the Max is produced on the regular production lines.
The third line will be retained once both regular assembly lines are building 737 Max aircraft at full pace to allow for future production increases.
Those two lines are now building 35 737s a month. They will increase to 38 next year and to 42 in 2014. Eventually, production of the current 737 Next Generation will be phased out and all production will be Max aircraft. Boeing has taken orders for 969 Max aircraft.