The Boeing 737 has the accolade of being the most produced jet-powered aircraft in history and it’s not hard to see why given that the first flight of the type was April 9th, 1967, and they are still making it today! In fact, as of February 2017, 9,401 have been built.
Boeing designed the 737 to supplement the short routes operated by the 727. The original “Baby Boeing” used design characteristics from both the 727 and the 707 to produce a single aisle airliner seating 6 abreast in a 3 x 3 configuration.
The first 737, the -100 model resulted in 30 of the aircraft being produced. Most airlines favoured the stretched -200 model due to the extra seating capacity. 991 of the -200 were produced.
Boeing continued to produce different variations of the “classic” 737 including the -300, -400 and -500 version. Each with differing fuselage length and seating capacity.
With Airbus threatening to spoil the 737’s party in the early 1990’s, Boeing carried out a massive design upgrade and unveiled the 737 Next Generation and its -600, -700, -800 and -900 models. The cockpit, wing design and engines all had a major upgrade over their classic predecessors. Over 6000 Next Gen 737’s have been produced.
Rather than being replaced with new models, the 737 has recently undergone another transformation as the 737 MAX (Variants: Max 7, Max 8 and Max 9). The new variant offers unparalleled efficiency and performance. In fact, several airlines such as Norwegian are looking to operate Max 8’s on transatlantic flights from the UK to the east coast of the USA such as Edinburgh to Hartford, Connecticut.
The first 737 Max aircraft are scheduled to enter service in Q2 2017.
The chances are that if you have flown to Europe from the UK then you have probably flown on a 737. Thomson (TUI) & Ryanair operate a fleet of 737-800 aircraft along with Jet2, who also operate other variants.
The 737 Max is also proving popular with UK airlines with Thomson (TUI) and Monarch both placing orders (60 & 30 respectively) so it’s safe to say the 737 is going to be in our skies for a long time to come.
So it’s Happy Birthday to Mr Sutters Baby Boeing, many happy returns!