Boeing announced (11-Apr-2012) it has made a series of design updates to the 737 MAX to further optimise the new engine variant's performance. Design decisions include:
- Aft body aerodynamic improvements: The tail cone will be extended and the section above the elevator thickened;
- Engine installation: The new CFM International LEAP-1B engines will be integrated with the wing similar to the aerodynamic lines of the 787 Dreamliner engine with its wing. A new pylon and strut, along with an 8in nose gear extension, will maintain similar ground clearance to current 737s while accommodating the larger engine fan. The nose gear door design is altered to fit with this revision;
- Flight control and system updates: The flight controls will include fly-by-wire spoilers, which will save weight by replacing a mechanical system. The MAX also will feature an electronic bleed air system, allowing for increased optimisation of the cabin pressurisation and ice protection systems, resulting in better fuel burn.
Other minor changes to the aircraft include strengthening the main landing gear, wing and fuselage to accommodate the increase in loads due to the larger engines. Boeing will continue to conduct aerodynamic, engine and aircraft trade studies as the team works to optimise the design of the aircraft by mid-2013. A possible revision to the wing tips on the MAX also is being tested in the wind tunnel to see if this new technology could further benefit the aircraft. [more - original PR]