I know American Airlines is suffering badly because of fuel costs. It will take a great engineering feat to bring airplanes into the fuel efficient era. It will involve many disciplines. I hope they can pull it off! Wing design, engine design, electronic controls, fuel mixtures, and who knows what else, will make it happen. I am sure they have things in the "wings" that will surprise us all!
From the article, I got the impression that the majority of the savings were aerodynamic related. I did see weight reduction mentioned also (for the fly by wire change), but the design changes didn't seem to focus on removal of weight.
From the picture and the article, I also noted the larger engines that are now directly attached to the wing (which appear to be a noticeable change from the older 737's that I remember when I was younger).
You probably know way more about this than I do, TJ. I was just thinking in terms on how inefficient automation devices and vehicles were in the past. So it seemed there must be significant gains to be made one you concentrate on energy savings. As an example, efficient motors and drives are driving down energy consumption 15 to 35 percent. Perhaps Boeing was not so inefficient going into the drive for efficiency.
I'm a bit surprised the re-design would only yield 10 to 12 percent fuel savings. It seems that number of changes would produce a greater savings. Perhaps the earlier models were already designed for efficiency.
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