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Testing begins on enhanced 737

A Boeing 737-800 incorporating aerodynamic and engine changes which will reduce fuel consumption by 2% has successfully completed its first test flight to begin a testing and certification programme which will continue until April 2011.

Once all the improvements are certified, Boeing will phase the changes into production from mid-2011 through early 2012.

One percent of the savings comes from reducing resistance as air flows around the aeroplane, explains Boeing. The upper and lower anti-collision lights change from round to a more aerodynamic, elongated teardrop shape. Wheel-well fairings are re-contoured to smooth the air flow near the main landing gear. A redesign of the environmental control system, exhaust vent and streamlined wing slat and spoiler trailing edges round out the aerodynamic changes.

CFM is providing the new CFM56-7BE engine to coincide with Boeing’s airframe changes. Low- and high-pressure turbine modifications will result in a 1% reduction in fuel consumption. In addition, Boeing is optimising the engine’s primary nozzle and plug. Together, the changes result in cooler-running engines that may provide up to 4% lower maintenance costs.

The new improvements will give operators an aircraft that is 7% more efficient than the first Next-Generation 737s delivered in 1998.

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