As we reported earlier today, Boeing and CFM didn’t stop with the previously announced 68.4 inch fan for the LEAP-1B engine on the 737 MAX.
Buckingham Research, citing Boeing at the investors’ day, wrote that Boeing talked about a 70 inch fan. Jon Ostrower–now at the Wall Street Journal–confirmed the larger fan, but at 69.4 inches (70 inches apparently was a rounded number) as well as pursuit of a smaller core.
The smaller core is important for two reasons: a larger fan and a smaller core provide for a higher by-pass ratio, increasing fuel burn reduction performance. The smaller core also enabled the engine to be mounted closer to the wing, which in turn means the previously announced 8 inch nose gear extension remains valid.
We picked up information that Boeing’s announcement at ISTAT in March that it had settled on a 68.4 inch fan for the 737 MAX LEAP-1B wasn’t a done deal. Now Buckingham Research comes out of Tuesday’s Boeing’s investors’ day with this notation:
A 70” fan for the 737MAX
BA noted that 737MAX development is proceeding on schedule with firm configuration expected in 2013 and first flight in 2016. Further, BA sees more upside than downside risk to the plane’s 13% efficiency improvement. BA is now looking at a slightly larger 70” fan for the LEAP-X engine vs. 68.4″ previously. While that might reinforce investor concerns regarding the GE LEAP-X engine performance, we see the change as part of the design optimization process. A number of factors impact engine fan size, including drag (larger engine fans have more drag), bypass ratio, core size, core temperature, etc. With the 737MAX recently undergoing wind tunnel testing, we think the revised engine fan size has more to do with optimizing the engine than a means to overcome performance deficiencies.
Note that this is not speculation on Buckingham’s part; it cites Boeing as the source.
A380 & other Airbus tidbits: Aviation Week has this article about the latest on A380 wing cracks in the L brackets, along with some information on the A350 program, A330 production rates, a comment on the price war and the prospect of an A320 production line in Mobile (AL). A reader asked us for a report on the wing cracks; we’ll be in Toulouse next week for the Airbus Innovation Days and anticipate some discussion of this topic then.
“SC-787-1″ to be airborne soon: The first Boeing 787 built in South Carolina will take to the air very soon, Boeing revealed during its investors day Tuesday. The Everett Herald has this article with some detail of production challenges and opportunities. There is also a reference well down in the article about diversifying production risk.
Speaking about that diversification: We were in Spokane (WA) yesterday addressing the Washington Public Ports Association. We urged the Port Authorities present to plan to propose to Boeing that the company should locate future assembly lines or supply clusters in Eastern Washington, away from the earthquake zones of Puget Sound. The April tornado in Wichita (KS) shut down 737 production for nine days and really brings home the potential risk factors to Boeing. This has been a song of ours since 2009 when we made a similar call to arms at another conference, which also was in Spokane. After our talk, one Port Authority commissioner noted that a computer model simulation of a Kobe, Japan-style earthquake concluded the ports in Puget Sound would be shut for three full months. The Boeing Renton plant is in close proximity to the Port of Seattle.
Sea of Foam: Check this out.