The Boeing 737 concept was first mooted in 1964 and was to be a low-cost solution derived from the Boeing 727 and Boeing 707, with the first aircraft being produced in 1967. The original 737-100 was short and stocky, but over the following forty-odd years, eight more variants have been produced. Seating capacity has grown from 85 to 215 passengers.
The production has been so prolific that as of July 2015, 8,599 aircraft have been produced with the order book standing at 4,253 aircraft still to be delivered. On average there are 1,250 Boeing 737s airborne at any given time with 2 landing or departing every 5 seconds.
The nine variants of the Boeing 737 are split into two generations of aircraft. The Classic Series consists of the Boeing 737 100, Boeing 737 200, Boeing 737 300, 400 and Boeing 737 500 variants, while the Next Generation Series includes the Boeing 737 600, Boeing 737 700, Boeing 737 800 and Boeing 737 900ER variants. The Next Generation saw improvements to the wing design, upgraded cockpit as well as a modernisation of the interior.
Being the only narrow-body aircraft now being produced by Boeing, the 737 has replaced the Boeing 707, 727, 757 as well as the DC9, MD80 and MD90. The main competition for the Boeing 737 today is the Airbus A320 family of aircraft. On its launch, it has to compete with the BAC 1-11, Fokker F28 and DC9. One of the 737s’ advantages over these rivals was it’s wider cabin allowing for a 6 abreast seating layout as compared to 5 abreast offed by its rivals.
The Boeing 737 100 and Boeing 737 200 variants were powered by Pratt and Whitney JT8D-1 engines which were wing-mounted. These engines were low bypass engines and were distinctive in the way they sat under the wing-like a long pipe extending forward and aft of the wing. The reverse thrust was provided by half-shells that extended back over the exhaust tailpipe and redirected air forward over and under the wing. The Boeing 737 300 was the first major rethink of the aircraft design with a longer fuselage, greater wingspan and new engines. The CFM56-3B-1 high-bypass turbofan was chosen, and to solve the problem of low ground clearance the engine was placed forward of the wing on a pylon attached to the wing. In addition, engine accessories were placed on the sides rather under the engine which made the nacelles slightly triangular rather than circular when viewed from the front.
The Next Generation family of variants delivered various improvements in technology: More efficient engines, improved aerodynamics, increased passenger capacity, longer range and electronic cockpits to name but a few.
With the Boeing 787 Dreamliner now in production, Boeing in 2011 turned their attention back on the Boeing 737. It was time to update this popular model once more to bring it into line with the new modern concepts, designs and materials used in Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Plans were announced in July 2011 for the Boeing 737 MAX which will be powered by CFM International Leap-1B engines. American Airlines intends to order 100 of the new variant.
If there is more you want to learn about this airliner, please visit: Boeing 737 Specs, Boeing 737 Interior, Boeing 737 Order Book, Boeing 737 History, Boeing 737 Assembly and Boeing 737 Max.
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