Boeing announced today that the final phase of wind tunnel testing, a major milestone in airplane development, will begin on the 737 MAX program next week. (Earlier post.) The 737 MAX is a new engine variant building on the strengths of today’s Next-Generation 737. The 737 MAX incorporates the latest-technology CFM International LEAP-1B engines to deliver the higher efficiency, reliability and passenger appeal.
Airlines operating the 737 MAX will see a 10-12% fuel burn improvement over today’s most fuel efficient single-aisle airplanes and a 7% operating cost per-seat advantage over tomorrow’s competition, Boeing says.
Wind tunnel testing is on the critical design path of the program. Based on previous work in the wind tunnel, we are confident this final phase of testing will substantiate our predictions of the aerodynamic performance of the airplane. This final phase of wind tunnel testing confirms that we are on track to complete our design goals and deliver the 737 MAX to customers beginning in 2017.—Michael Teal, chief project engineer and deputy program manager, 737 MAX program
Testing will begin at QinetiQ’s test facility in Farnborough, UK, where engineers will substantiate the forecasted low-speed performance of the 737 MAX on takeoff and landing.
Testing also will be completed at the Boeing Transonic Wind Tunnel in Seattle to substantiate the forecast of the high-speed performance of the airplane. The models used for Next-Generation 737 wind tunnel testing, with modifications made to the aft fuselage, struts and nacelles, in addition to the new engine, will be used for the tests. Test completion in mid-2012 is a major step toward firm configuration of the 737 MAX.
To date, the 737 MAX has received more than 1,000 orders and commitments from 15 customers.