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Boeing 737 (Series)

Short-to-Medium Range Passenger Airliner / Freighter Aircraft

The Boeing 737 series is still used in large numbers all over the world.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 3/14/2019
National Flag Graphic


Year: 1968
Status: Active, In-Service
Manufacturer(s): Boeing Aircraft Company - USA
Production: 14,725
Capabilities: Transport; Commercial Market;
Crew: 2
Length: 93.83 ft (28.6 m)
Width: 92.85 ft (28.3 m)
Height: 37.07 ft (11.3 m)
Weight (Empty): 61,994 lb (28,120 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 110,011 lb (49,900 kg)
Power: 2 x Pratt & Whitney JT8D-5/-7/-9/-17 turbofan engines developing 14,000lb of thrust each.
Speed: 544 mph (876 kph; 473 kts)
Ceiling: 35,105 feet (10,700 m; 6.65 miles)
Range: 2,600 miles (4,184 km; 2,259 nm)
Operators: Afghanistan; Algeria; Angola; Argentina; Armenia; Australia; Austria; Bahamas; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Belarus; Belgium; Bolivia; Brazil; Brunel; Bulgaria; Canada; Chile; Taiwan; Colombia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Egypt; Estonia; Ethiopia; Fiji; France; Georgia; Germany; Greece; Honduras; Hong Kong; Hungary; Iceland; India; Indonesia; Ireland; Iraq; Israel; Italy; Japan; Kazakhstan; Kenya; Latvia; Libya; Luxembourg; Macedonia; Madagascar; Malaysia; Malta; Mauritania; Mexico; Mongolia; Morocco; NATO; Nauru; Netherlands; New Zealand; Nigeria; Norway; Oman; Pakistan; Panama; Peru; Philippines; Poland; Reunion; Romania; Russia; Samoa; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Serbia; Singapore; Slovakia; South Africa; South Korea; Spain; Suriname; Sweden; Taiwan; Tanzania; Thailand; Trinidad and Tobago; Turkey; Ukraine; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom; United States; Uruguay; Vanuatu; Venezuela; Vietnam; Yemen; Zimbabwe
Despite its entry into service back in 1968 (with air carrier Lufthansa), the Boeing Model 737 continues to fly high today (2018). Over 10,000 aircraft in the series have been built (March 2018) with production running from 1966 to the present day. The success of the model has led to a bevy of variants being realized that includes several military platforms for various global services (including the United States). At one point in its career, the Model 737 marked the world's best-selling airliner - a reason why it continues in widespread service today (2018).

The Model 737 was originally developed as a narrow-body passenger-hauler for the short-to-medium-ranged airliner market. Born from the framework of the Model 707 and Model 727, the Model 737 was intended to provide Boeing with the ability to offer a reliable, moderate-cost performer at every level of global interest. Engineers developed a conventional, tube-shaped passenger-hauler with low-mounted wing mainplanes, tricycle landing gear, and a single-finned tail unit. Each mainplane sported an underslung engine nacelle designed to give the aircraft the necessary range, power, and performance for the short-to-medium-range marketplace. For its construction, the Model 737 relied on up to 60% commonality of parts between its sister design - the Model 727.

A first-flight of a Model 737 prototype was recorded on April 9th, 1967 and, following the requisite certifications period, the type was introduced with West Germany's air carrier Lufthansa on February 10th, 1968. The initial production model became the Model 737-100 with, as its designation suggests, seated up to 100 passengers. This entry was unveiled in February of 1965. Production was limited to just 30 airframes before attention turned to the dimensionally larger, stretched Model 737-200.

The 737-100 carried 2 x Pratt & Whitney JT8D-5, D-7, D-9, or D-17 engines varying in thrust from 14,000lb to 16,400lb each unit. The 737-200 also carried this engine.

The Model 737-200 was also unveiled back in 1965 and followed into service in April of 1968 with carrier United Airlines. The Model 737-200 "Advanced" became an improved form of the base 737-200 offering. This model was launched with Japan's All Nippon Airways in May of 1971 and sported uprated engines, increased fuel capacity and operational ranges, and automatic wheel braking systems among other qualities. Another model in this series was the 737-200C (Cargo) which added a dual ("combi") functionality - the aircraft serving passengers and cargo as needed by the operator. The United States Air Force (USAF) took on a stock of 19 Model 737-200 as well, designated as "T-43" and used in the aviation navigation role. An offshoot of this model was the "CT-43" which proved useful in USAF passenger hauling routes. The "NT-43A" was a one-off test bed for various radar fits.

The Model 737 "Classic" covered the 737-300, 737-400, and 737-500 series - second-generation forms of the Model 737. The line was established after the arrival of the 737-600, 737-700, 737-800, and 737-900 series. Nearly 2,000 aircraft were produced of all types from 1984 into 2000.

The 737-300, -400, and -500 all carried the CFM56-3 turbofan engine of 20,000 to 23,500lb thrust each unit. The 737-600, -700, -800, and -900 series were all given the CFM56-7 turbofan engine of 20,000lb to 27,000lb thrust output (each).

The Model 737 "Next Generation" (NG) was brought online in the 1990s to better compete with the French Airbus offering of the A320 (detailed elsewhere on this site). This initiative produced the 737-600, -700, -800, and -900 series mentioned above. Total production has since surpassed over 6,550 units as the company attempted to maintain its edge in the marketplace. The United States Navy (USN) has adopted the P-8 "Poseidon" for its future over-water maritime needs - this aircraft is built upon the framework of the Model 737NG.

The Model 77-33 was a modified business jet version of the Model 737-300. These were succeeded by the Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) with increased range and elements borrowed from both the 737-700 and 737-800 series. A first-flight was recorded in September of 1998. The line was then followed by the Boeing Business Jet 2 (BBJ2), based in the 737-800 mark, that increased internal volume at the expense of operational range. First-deliveries were had in February of 2001. A third iteration of the BBJ appeared as the Boeing Business Jet 3 (BBJ3) and this was built from the Model 737-900ER (Extended Range) product. Again more internal volume was granted while range was increased.

The Model 737-800BCF was developed into a dedicated freighter as the "Boeing Converted Freighter" (BCF). This program involves the conversion of older, aging passenger haulers to a freighter standard. First deliveries were had in 2018.

In another attempt to match the Airbus threat pound-for-pound, the Model 737 MAX was established - its direct competitor becoming the A320neo (detailed elsewhere on this site). The program was launched in August of 2011 with Southwest Airlines becoming its launch customer in May of 2017. The MAX series encompasses the MAX7, MAX8, MAX9, MAX10, business derivatives, and the MAX200.

The Model 737 MAX-7, -8, -9, and -10 all carry the CFM LEAP-1B turbofan engine offering up to 29,300lb of thrust each unit.

Heading into 2018, the Model 737 series has seen a healthy overall total of 14,725 units committed to/delivered with some 4,648 airframes still on order. Peak production was seen in 2017 with 529 units. 320 deliveries were made in 1999, the most in a calendar year for the aircraft.

Beyond its obvious civilian marketplace value, the Model 737 has proven a popular product for many militaries of the world - from Argentina and Australia to Thailand and Turkey.

Program Updates

The 737 Max 8 is expected to see deliveries begin to customer Southwest Airlines in early 2017. Among the features of the new model jet are its tail, addition of winglets to the mainplanes and all new fuel-efficient engines. Four 'Max' models are planned by Boeing.

The 737 Max 9 is the largest version of the 737 Max family with seating for 220 (single aisle). Its first-flight is scheduled for 2017. The test aircraft was debuted at Boeing's plant in Washington in December 2016. The Max 9 is intended to compete directly with the Airbus A321neo line.

March 2017 - Boeing has inked a deal with Iran (Iran Aseman Airlines) for an order of thirty 737 airliners in MAX configuration.

June 2017 - The 737 MAX 10 was announced at the Paris Air Show 2017. The offering is intended as a bridge product in the single-aisle passenger hauling market and to compete directly with the Airbus A321neo line. Boeing claims some 240 orders for the aircraft from ten carriers. The aircraft can carry up to 230 passengers when arranges in the single-aisle configuration. Key design changes to the 737-10 (MAX 10) include: revised wing mainplanes to accommodate revised main landing gear legs and improvement to low-speed drag reduction, levered main landing gear legs with larger brake units, a 66" stretch of the fuselage with a lighter weight rear section pressure bulkhead, and a new mid-section exit door.

February 2018 - The Model 737-7 was rolled out of Boeing's Renton facility for the first time. Deliveries of this model are expected in 2019 with about 60 units on order to date.

February 2018 - The Model 737 Max 9 has received its certification by U.S. authorities. The launch customer is Lion Air Group.

July 2018 - VietJet Air has contracted to acquire 100 additional Model 737 MAX airliners.

August 2018 - CDB Aviation has announced its intention to convert its Model 787 order to 737 Max 8 platforms.

October 2018 - A Lion Air 737 MAX 8 crashed into the Java Sea shortly after take-off from Jakarta (Indonesia) on October 29th, 2018, killing all 189 on board.

November 2018 - Jeju Air of South Korea has placed an order for 40 Model 737 Max 8 aircraft along with an option for 10 additional aircraft.

December 2018 - Ryanair has received the last of its twenty-five 787-800 aircraft. The first was ordered in March of 1998.

March 2019 - An Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 crashed shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) en route to Nairobi, Kenya, killing all 157 aboard. This marks the second high-profile, high-loss-of-life incident for the new airliner - having just entered service months earlier. The second incident has led to mass groundings by air carriers as Boeing and regulators sift through the evidence - which is centered on the MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) and its software.

March 2019 - The loss of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 has led to a global grounding of Boeing's Model 737 for the foreseeable future as regulators and engineers look to address issues.



Cockpit Picture

Variants / Models

• Model 737 - Base Series Designation
• 737-100 - Fitted with 2 x Pratt & Whitney JT8D-7 engines of 19,000lbf; 104 to 118 passengers; 30 examples produced.
• 737-200; 1,114 examples produced.
• 737-200C - 96 examples produced.
• 737-200 Adv - 865 examples produced.
• 737-300 - 1,113 examples produced.
• 737-400 - Fitted with 2 x CFM International 56-3B-2 engines of 20,000lbf; 159 to 168 passengers; 486 examples produced.
• 737-500 - Fitted with 2 x CFM 56-3B-1 engines of 20,000lbf; 123 to 132 passengers; 389 examples produced.
• 737NG ("Next Generation") - Series evolution designation; covering 737-600, 737-700, 737-800 and 737-900 models.
• 737-600 - Fitted with 2 x CFM 56-7B20 engines of 22,700lbf; 123 to 132 passengers; 68 examples produced.
• 737-700 - Fitted with 2 x CFM 56-7B26 engines of 26,300lbf; 140 to 149 passengers; 847 examples produced.
• 737-700ER - Fitted with 2 x CFM 56-7B26 engines of 26,300lbf; 140 to 149 passengers.
• 737-800 - Fitted with 2 x CFM 56-7B27 engines of 27,300lbf; 162 to 189 passengers; 1,207 examples produced.
• 737-900 - 55 examples produced.
• 737-900ER - 165 ordered.
• 737-900ER - Fitted with 2 x CFM 56-7 engines of 27,300lbf; 177 to 215 passengers.
• 737-BBJ1 - 95 ordered.
• 737-BBJ2 - 13 ordered.
• 737-BBJ3
• 737 MAX - Series evolution designation; based on previous 737 design model though with CFM International LEAP-1B engines as well as subtle aerodynamic refinements to include winglets for improved efficiency.
• 737 MAX 7 - Based on the 737-700 / MAX 8 designs; announced July 2016; increased range and passenger options; rolled out in February of 2018.
• 737 MAX 8 - Successor to 737 NG series 737-800 models; stretch fuselage version of MAX 7; increased operational range.
• 737 MAX 200 - Announced September 2014; high-density model of the 737 MAX 8; seating for up to 200 passengers.
• 737-8ERX - Proposed model based on the 737 MAX 8; increased MTOW and operational ranges; wing mainplanes, center section and undercarriage from the MAX 9.
• 737 MAX 9 - Successor to the 737-700, 737-800 and 737-900 series models; stretched fuselage version of MAX 8 model; improved operational ranges.
• 737 Max 10 (737-10) - Stretched model; larger variant based on the MAX 9 due to market demand.
• BBJ MAX 8 (Boeing Business Jet) - Proposed business market passenger model; fitted with CFM LEAP-1B engines.
• BBJ MAX 9 (Boeing Business Jet) - Proposed business market passenger model; fitted with CFM LEAP-1B engines.
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