Boeing locks in design on 737 MAX 8

Boeing has reached a new milestone on the 737 MAX 8 program, announcing Tuesday it has completed firm configuration of the aircraft.

“We have defined the design requirements for the 737 MAX that provide our customers with the most value in the single-aisle market,” Michael Teal, chief project engineer for the 737 MAX, said in a statement.

Boeing has wrapped up the development stage on the 737 MAX 8 and now will begin detailed designs of the aircraft. Final assembly of the 737 MAX 8 is scheduled to begin in 2015 with first delivery scheduled for the third quarter of 2017.

The 737 MAX family includes the 737 MAX 7, 737 MAX 8 and 737 MAX 9. Boeing plans to deliver the first 737 MAX 9 in 2018 and the first 737 MAX 7 the following year. To date, Boeing has won orders for 1,495 737 MAX airplanes.

The Chicago-based Boeing says the updated 737s will offer a 13 percent fuel savings over existing single-aisle jets. The MAX will have new LEAP-1B engines from CFM International, a redesigned tail cone and advanced technology winglets to reduce fuel use.

“We are working closely with our customers and industry partners to ensure that the airplane we deliver will perform as promised,” Keith Leverkuhn, vice president and program manager, 737 MAX program, said in a statement.

Boeing was pushed into revamping its 737 program, rather than designing an all-new single-aisle jet, two years ago when American Airlines split a massive order between Airbus and Boeing. Airbus already had launched its A320 new engine option, or A320neo, aircraft. Boeing didn’t officially launch the 737 MAX for another month. American, which had been a loyal Boeing customer for decades, ordered a combination of existing and updated single-aisle jets from both Airbus and Boeing.

Airbus announced on Tuesday it had delivered the first of 260 A320 family jets to American. The aircraft delivered was an A319 with Airbus’ new sharklets, fuel-saving wingtip devices. Airbus will deliver 130 current engine A320 aircraft and switch to delivering another 130 A320neos in 2017.

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