Volume 03, Issue 4
One airplane to rule them all
Versatility helped make
737 a success
The Next-Generation 737’s diversification began in 1996 with the Boeing Business Jet, a high-performance derivative of the 737-700. Designed for corporate and VIP use, the BBJ can fly twice as far as its sister models, more than 6,000 nautical miles nonstop. That allows it to fly routes such as Los Angeles to London or Paris, or from New York to Buenos Aires nonstop.
“When we decided to develop the long-range business jet known as the BBJ, we recognized that the airframe’s robust design would have potential applications in other markets such as the military sector. History bears out our premise,” said Ed Kane, 737 product development manager.
In fact, in 1997 the BBJ configuration gave birth to the 737-700C, a convertible aircraft, which can be configured to seat all passengers, all cargo, or both in a matter of hours. Known as the C-40 Clipper, the 737-700C is used by the U.S. Navy to transport high-priority passengers and cargo around the world.
The 737-700C also serves in the civil freighter market, but with one unique feature called Quick Change. The option reduces the conversion from all-passenger to all-freighter configuration, and vice versa, to less than an hour by using pallet-mounted seats.
The 737 is also serving as a platform for Airborne Early Warning. In 1999, Boeing won a contract to convert the 737 into a Wedgetail AEW platform for the Royal Australian Air Force.
What makes the 737 appealing to military users are the same attributes that make it attractive to commercial and private operators. The 737’s high reliability and low operating and maintenance costs make it the right size airplane at the right price, said Samir Belyamani, director of 737 Marketing.
“The 737 also is an ideal platform for many applications because of its advanced avionics, navigation equipment and performance capability,” Belyamani said.
Another attractive benefit is the worldwide support a customer receives as an operator of a 737.
“With more than 4,000 737s in service, you can literally go anywhere in the world and find a maintenance base or hangar where people have serviced and are knowledgeable about 737s. That’s a wonderful asset,” Belyamani said.
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