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03 Aug 2015 - Boeing revises performance assumptions.

Boeing have revised the listed seat-counts and range specifications on its website for nearly all of its aircraft range. But Boeing officials say not to be alarmed. The underlying aircraft performance is no different. Boeing has simply updated a set of generic weight and configuration assumptions used to calculate aircraft range. “There’s no performance change to the actual airplane. Our airplane is doing just fine, and the customers won’t see any change to their rules. This is just changing our generic philosophy to more closely represent what our customers are using,” says Jim Haas, a Boeing marketing director.

This is the first such update since the early 1990s, some of the changes appear significant. For example the predicted range for the 737 Max 7 and 737 Max 200 have reduced by over 500nm.

Model Seats, 2-class (new) Seats (old) Range (new) Range (old)
737-700 126 126 3,010nm 3,445nm
737-800 162 162 2,935nm 3,085nm
737-900ER 178 180 2,950nm 3,050nm
737 Max 7 126 126 3,350nm 3,850nm
737 Max 8 162 162 3,515nm 3,660nm
737 Max 9 178 180 3,515nm 3,630nm
737 Max 200 200 N/A 2,700nm 3,345nm

By changing the assumptions now, Boeing finally acknowledges what most airline customers, industry analysts and rivals already knew. The standard set of assumptions Boeing has used to calculate performance for generic marketing purposes has been “obsolete” for a long time, Haas says. “The reason we kept it so long is we look at the actual seat counts [the marketing brochures] were showing they were pretty representative of the actual seats airlines were putting in airplanes,” Haas says. Although the numbers may have been similar, the weight of the passengers, their bags and the seats themselves have been growing substantially. At the same time, the first class cabin used in earlier assumptions has all but disappeared, replaced by more elaborate business class cabins with lie-flat seats and premium economy cabins. As a result, there has been a growing mismatch between the numbers that Boeing presents in marketing presentations and the numbers that they show to airlines in closed-door sales discussions. “We really wanted a set of generic ground rules that better reflected what airplanes used in operation,” says Randy Tinseth, vice-president of marketing.

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*** Updated 17 Jan 2017 ***

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