The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified the new CFM56-7-powered Boeing Next-Generation 737-700 on November 7, paving the way for entry into revenue service with Southwest Airlines later this year.
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. CFM is the world's leading supplier of commercial transport aircraft engines.
Southwest Airlines officially launched the Next-Generation 737 program in 1993 with an order for 63 aircraft. 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 737 airplanes 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 will take delivery of their first 737-700s later this year, as well.
In July, the 737-800 began flight tests in preparation for certification and entry into service next year with launch customer Hapag-Lloyd. During the first quarter of 1998, the 737-600 will begin certification flight tests and is also scheduled to enter service next year. 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 jointly certified by the FAA and the French Direction Gnrale de l'Aviation Civile 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 720 aircraft.