The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Joint Airworthiness Association certified the new CFM56-7-powered Boeing Next-Generation 737-700 last November, paving the way for entry into revenue service with Southwest Airlines in the U.S. in January and with European launch customers Germania and Maersk later this month.
The CFM56-7 is produced by CFM International, a 50/50 joint company between Snecma (Safran Group) of France and General Electric of the United States.
Southwest Airlines officially launched the Next-Generation 737 program in 1993 with an order for 63 aircraft, and has place four 737-700 aircraft into service to date. Southwest has played a pivotal role in CFM's leadership in the commercial engine market, having launched the CFM56-3 in 1982 as the sole powerplant for the current 737-300/-400/-500 family of aircraft. Southwest operates only 737s and maintains one of the world's largest fleets, with more than 200 aircraft in service and more than 125 additional 737s on order.
European launch customers Maersk and Germania are scheduled to take delivery of three and 12 737-700 aircraft, respectively, in 1998. Both airlines currently operate fleets that include current 737 model aircraft.
In July, the 737-800 began flight tests in preparation for certification and entry into service later this year with launch customer Hapag-Lloyd. The 737-600 began certification flight tests in January and with enter service this year, as well. Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) launched the smaller 737-600 with CFM's advanced double annular combustor. The engine has already completed flight tests on a modified flying testbed at GE facilities in Mojave, California, in preparation for the flight test program at Boeing.
The CFM56-7 was certified in December 1996 at 18,500 to 27,300 pounds takeoff thrust. Since the CFM56-7-powered 737 program was launched, it has become the fastest selling engine/aircraft combination in history. Announced orders now stand at 811 aircraft.