In 1967, the smaller, short-range 737 twinjet was the logical airplane to complement the 707 and the 727. There was increasing demand for transports in its category, but the 737 faced heavy competition from the Douglas DC-9 and the British Aircraft Corp. BAC-111.
To save production time, and get the plane on the market as soon as possible, Boeing gave the 737 the same upper-lobe fuselage as the 707 and 727, so the same upper-deck cargo pallets could be used for all three jets. The 737 later adopted the 727's cargo convertible features, which allowed the interior to be changed from passenger to cargo use in the 737-200 series.
The 737 had six-abreast seating -- a selling point, because this way it could take more passengers per load -- the DC-9 seated five abreast. The number of seats in the 737 also was increased by mounting the engines under the wing. This engine placement buffered some of the noise, decreased vibration and made it easier to maintain the airplane at ground level. Like the 727, the 737 could operate self-sufficiently at small airports and on remote, unimproved fields. The plane's performance in these conditions led to orders in Africa. Later, airlines in Central and South America, Asia and Australia bought the versatile jet.
At first, the 737 was called the "square" airplane because it was as long as it was wide. The new technology made the position of flight engineer redundant; the 737's two-person flight deck became standard among air carriers. Nineteen 737-200s, modified as T-43 navigator trainers, served with the Air Force, and the last 737-200 was delivered Aug. 8, 1988.
By 1987, the 737 was the most-ordered plane in commercial history. In January 1991, 2,887 737s were on order and Models 737-300, -400 and -500 were in production. By 1993, customers had ordered 3,100 737s, and the company was developing the Next-Generation 737s -- the -600, -700, -800 and -900. The Next-Generation 737 models build on the strengths that made the 737 the world's most successful commercial airliner, while incorporating improvements designed for the 21st century.
The 126- to 149-seat 737-700 was launched in November 1993 and first delivered in December 1997. The 162- to 189-seat 737-800 was launched Sept. 5, 1994. The 110- to 132-passenger 737-600 was first delivered in 1998, and the 177- to 189-passenger 737-900 was first delivered in 2001.
The Boeing Business Jet, launched in 1996 as a joint venture between Boeing and General Electric and designed for corporate and VIP applications, is a high-performance derivative of the 737-700. The BBJ 2, announced in October 1999, is based on the 737-800 and has 25 percent more cabin space and twice the cargo space of the BBJ. Both provide unsurpassed levels of space, comfort and utility and are backed by a global support program with dedicated field service representatives.
On Aug. 29, 1997, the Navy awarded Boeing a contract to build 737-700 convertible/combi aircraft to replace the U.S. Navy's fleet of C-9 airlift transports, which have been in service since the early 1970s. Designated C-40A, the aircraft will be used for the Navy Unique Fleet Essential Airlift (NUFEA) mission, transporting both passengers and cargo around the world. The C-40A can operate in three configurations: an all-passenger (121) configuration, an all-cargo configuration of up to eight pallets, or a combination (or "combi") configuration that will accommodate up to three cargo pallets and 70 passengers.
737 home page
||April 9, 1967
||93 feet 9 inches
||Two 14,000-pound-thrust P&W JT8D-7 engines
||2 crew, up to 107 passengers