Southwest Launches LEAP-1B-Powered 737 MAX 7

Southwest Airlines today formally launched the Boeing 737 MAX 7 airplane powered by the advanced LEAP-1B engine.  The airline converted an existing order for 30 Next-Generation 737s  to the MAX 7 variant.   

Southwest originally launched the LEAP-1B engine on the 737 MAX in 2011 with an order for 150 firm aircraft.  This new order takes the airlines total firm fleet to 360 engines.   The new airplanes are scheduled to begin delivery in 2019.  Southwest also has options for 150 additional LEAP-1B-powered 737 MAX airplanes.

The LEAP-1B engine incorporates revolutionary technologies never before seen in the single-aisle aircraft segment.  The new engine combines advanced aerodynamic design techniques, lighter, more durable materials, and leading-edge environmental technologies, making it a major breakthrough in engine technology. 

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The engine achieved a major milestone in April when CFM concluded design freeze.  This milestone is effectively the point at which the engine configuration is set, or frozen.  This now allows CFM to finalize and release detailed engine design drawings, which it will do over the next six months.  Parts manufacturing for the LEAP-1B engine will then accelerate through year end, leading to build-up of the first engine in early 2014.  The LEAP-1B is on schedule for CFM flight testing in 2015 and engine certification in 2016.  The 737 MAX is scheduled to enter service in 2017. 

In 1981, Southwest Airlines played a pivotal role in CFM’s history by launching the CFM56-3 engine as the sole powerplant for what is now called the Boeing 737 Classic.  In 1993, the airline launched the CFM56-7B as the sole powerplant on the Boeing Next-Generation 737.  Today, the airline is CFM’s largest commercial customer, operating a fleet of more than 600 CFM56-powered 737s.

Source: GE Aviation
Date: May 16, 2013