Boeing last week completed a Continental Airlines 737-800 with a series of minor design improvements that should increase the plane's efficiency by 2%, saving about $120,000 per year in operating costs. The upgrades, including an improved engine and more aerodynamic light, don't amount to a "big bang" individually, according to chief project engineer John Hamilton, but taken together, "They're all going to add up." Flight testing should be completed in April, and Boeing says the new design features should begin finding their way into production by mid-2011.

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