The 737 team jetted into the history books Tuesday as Boeing celebrated its 10,000th 737 to come off the production line.
The airplane, a 737 MAX 8, was delivered amid tremendous applause from the crowd, and a “heart”-felt gesture of thanks from a group of Fabrication employees, who made heart-shaped hand signs for longtime 737 customer Southwest Airlines.
Program partners, site leaders, special guests and Boeing Fabrication employees traveled to the Renton, Wash., factory for the historic event.
Among those in the crowd was a judge from Guinness World Records, who gave his official seal of approval to the 737 as the most-produced commercial jet airplane of all time.
“This incredible milestone is a testament to the work we do every day to build the most reliable and efficient single-aisle airplane in the world,” said Kevin McAllister, president and CEO of Commercial Airplanes.
“We owe this record to more than 50 years of success and achievement on the part of thousands of Boeing employees past and present, our supplier partners and our airline customers around the globe who put their confidence in the 737,” he said.
The 737 was first delivered to launch customer Lufthansa in December 1967, just over 50 years ago. Since then, the airplane has gone on to become the workhorse of the world’s commercial airplane fleet, evolving through continuous improvements and emerging technologies into the Next-Generation 737 and today’s 737 MAX.
David Knowlen, a Renton employee who witnessed the very first delivery, and said of Tuesday’s record-breaking event, “50 years ago, I never thought we’d make this many airplanes, but we have a product with an unbeaten history of safety and reliability that the customers love, and we keep rolling them out.”
Another employee, Richard Vargo, a 25-year company veteran, joined the crowd from Boeing Fabrications’ Fredrickson, Wash., site, where he works in wing spar fabrication. Vargo spoke with pride about “seeing where the parts I make fit together in the airplane; they went on the 5,000th 737 and now on the 10,000th."
Boeing has sold more than 14,600 737s, making the airplane the best-selling commercial airplane of all time, as well as the most produced.
“I’m just so excited,” said Young Kim, who has worked at the Renton factory for 26 years. “I love the 737 most of all the airplanes Boeing makes.”
Kim said she lives near the factory and sees “the airplane every single day from home and at work.
"For me, the 737 is an optimistic dream made real," Kim said, "and we’ll keep building more and more and sharing with the world what this awesome team has done every day for more than 50 years."
By Jennifer Sturm and Rob Henderson