737 MAX Engine Configuration Set

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Boeing will add about eight inches to the nose gear of the existing Boeing 737 to squeeze 68-inch-diameter fans into the nacelles of the MAX variant announced in August. The engines, LEAP-1Bs from CFM in France, will offer comparable fuel savings and noise reduction to Airbus's re-engined A320neo but the relatively low-slung 737 was not originally designed for the huge fans that such efficient engines require. The lack of room had Boeing considering a clean-sheet replacement for the 737 because reworking the main gear would have been a major job on the existing aircraft, but the nose-gear tweak seems to have done the trick. Meanwhile, the redesigned 737 seems to have found favor with Boeing customers.

Boeing launched the project with commitments for 496 aircraft. The potential orders have grown to 600 from a total of eight airlines. Besides the engines, the new 737s will have a more spacious-feeling cabin because the overhead bins will disappear into the ceilings but carry more bags. The total configuration will be set by 2013, first flight is scheduled for 2016 and entry to service 2017. Boeing spokespeople have said the timeline is deliberately conservative so they don't run into the delivery issues that have dogged the 747-8 and Dreamliner's development.