April 1 was the 75th anniversary of Boeing operations in Renton, Wash., production that began with bombers and tankers during World War II. The 737 started its life at the Thompson Site near Boeing Field in Seattle, moving in 1970 to Renton, where 707 and 727 jetliners were already being built. Today, about 30 percent of the world’s fleet of commercial jetliners are produced in Renton, Wash.
As employees in and near Renton, Wash., were gearing up for the first flight of the new 737 MAX 9 in the week ahead, they also commemorated a half-century of producing the world’s best-selling airplane.
The 737 celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first flight on April 9. Fans in the Seattle area gathered at the Museum of Flight for a commemorative birthday party to celebrate the airplane, employees and the continuous innovation that has evolved into the 737 MAX.
More than 9,400 737s have been delivered in the last 50 years, with 4,400 more on order. Boeing received its 10,000th 737 order in 2012.
The Renton factories today count 12,000 employees on or near the site building 42 airplanes a month. In addition to 737 passenger jets these employees build variants for Boeing Business Jets and the Poseidon P-8, which offers advanced antisubmarine, antisurface warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.
The airplane’s widespread presence around the world is evident in the numbers:
- 737s represent nearly a third of the total worldwide fleet of large commercial jets, with more than 6,700 in service
- More than 480 operators in 126 countries fly 737s
- On average, more than 2,440 737s are in the air at any given time
- A 737 takes off or lands every 1.6 seconds
The 737 production rate, which now integrates Next-Generation 737s and 737 MAXs, will increase to 47 airplanes a month this, year; 52 in 2018; and 57 in 2019.
By Leslie Hazzard