Friday, October 28, 2016

Boeing 737 Proof Of Concept Comes After First Delivery

Boeing has a significant amount of work to do assuring the 737 Max is the rising star. After the Airbus A320 NEO debacle several of its important customers are less than happy about its NEO orders, when the roll out show its ugly teething woes. Boeing can recoup the single aisle market once its new single aisle 737 Max starts its commercial operations.  The engine will not fall short on the Max and the innovation treatments will not disappoint its customer base. Airbus already has muffed it with Qatar over its NEO program having a less than optimal engine performance metric during first delivery.

Airbus and its engine suppliers will get it right, but not in time for the Max’s run-out in the first half of 2017. A sign that Boeing has its collective head flying high above the problems below. The unknown customer having first receipt will in no doubt be excited happy, and may order more Boeing 737 Max's in turn.

The effort Airbus made offering multi engine options did not have a conclusive result, and it will pay in the market place for this mishap of engine performance. CFM has been building successful engines since the first 737 classic of almost forty years ago. The current iteration of the CFM designed just for the Max, but is included on the Airbus A320 NEO, is not same engine as the Boeing rendition fitting to the Max's low ground clearance profile.

The A320 could go larger in diameter on its CFM Leap 1-A rendition with 78 inches, and where the Boeing configured CFM Leap 1-B goes for 68.4 inches. The law of jet engine physics is the larger the diameter the better the jet engine performance.


The PW A320 gear driven motor hit an early snag as with all new concepts, but customers like Qatar don't want experimental equipment hanging on its business wings, hence the customer burn. Boeing has become a one trick pony with its CFM engine commitment during the history of the 737 program. Don't fix what works just make it better going forward. The Airbus Company striving to be all things to all customers has dabbled in the innovations realm and it has gained Boeing some valuable real estate back exampled by the recent commitment from Qatar for 60 Max. Qatar's word has always been good, so count one for Boeing in the last minutes of "Airplane Wars", Single Aisle Division.

The question now arises, what has Boeing and CFM wrought in the 68" configured Leap-1B. Heat was a great robber of engine performance and a larger diameter engine mitigates that heat as found in the Leap 1-A engine. However, the proprietary differences begin to mount up when mitigation those heat penalties that are attacking the Leap -1B. Boeing co-partnered with CFM on this one, as it refused to budge on the complete redesign of the 737 for bigger diameter engines. It maintained its airplane stance in the sand and made CFM Build an engine significantly smaller in diameter than the Leap 1-A.

Image result for cfm 1-B

But in doing so, CFM and Boeing had to bring rabbits out of the hat fixing the CFM 1-B while meeting industry performance requirements found with commercial aviation customers. Boeing contributed by bringing over from the 787 project key attributes enhancing the 68.4 limits. Boeing made changes to its engine nacelle coming from the 787 program, and added engine chevrons to its engine exhaust end for sound and aero-dynamics.

Placing the engine forward or backward on the wings would affect performance, so Boeing found the sweet spot for high engine performance and moved it to that spot. The plane balance is critical for flight control and efficiency and Boeing doubled down on engine balance for the aircraft.

Image result for cfm 1-B 

Boeing also made some engine nacelle treatments different than the 737 NG configuration. A person notices when flying a kite that certain things need to be different after first flying attempts are made. It may dip, dive or fly upside down until the kite’s tail or sticks are adjusted. Boeing/CFM with its smaller engine manages the air passing by the wing and engine. They put on some fins in key places on the engine nacelle enhancing movement through the air, mitigating heat build-up, and canceling some drag.

Even though I do not know all the engine secrets, the Max in tests shows a 14% over-all improvement than previous models of its type. Boeing claims supremacy over the NEO. The customer will know who is correct in this argument. However, the important point is that Boeing can and should gain significant ground over Airbus A320-NEO in the market place once the 737 Max delivers, because then Boeing can demonstrate its tricked out 68.4 diameter engine as compared with the 78 inch Neo configured airplane currently in service.