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Boeing Says 737 MAX Winglet Design to Boost Fuel Savings

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May 2 (Bloomberg) -- Boeing Co. said a new winglet design for its 737 MAX jet will boost fuel savings by as much as 1.5 percentage points as the planemaker seeks to win customers for the latest model of the world’s most widely flown airliner.

Fuel savings with the winglets, or curved extensions at the tip of each wing, will rise to as much as 5.5 percent on long-haul routes, compared with 4 percent from the current design, Jim Albaugh, Boeing’s commercial airplanes chief, said today in a statement.

The increase augments a gain in fuel economy from the MAX of as much as 12 percent, Chicago-based Boeing said. The MAX, with upgraded engines, is scheduled for first delivery in 2017 and has amassed more than 1,000 orders and commitments from 16 customers, according to the company.

Boeing’s 737 competes with the Airbus SAS A320, and the MAX is a challenge to the A320neo model, which also will offer new engines.

The company’s shares rose less a percent to $77.26 at the close in New York. They have gained 5.3 percent this year.

The winglets are the last MAX design modification to help fuel efficiency that Boeing will announce, said Michael Teal, the project’s chief engineer. Architectural changes will be completed by the fourth quarter, he said on a conference call today.

Boeing introduced its 737 winglets in 2001, helping decrease fuel consumption by 4 percent, said Beverly Wyse, general manager of 737 program, on the call.

To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Black in Dallas at tblack@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net