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Boeing 737

In 1965, the Boeing name was synonymous with big multiengine jet airplanes, so when the company announced its new commercial twinjet, the 737, it quickly earned the nickname Baby Boeing. The first flight of the Boeing 737 took place on 09 April 1967, and entered service in early 1968 with Lufthansa.

The first 737 was the last new airplane to be built at Plant 2 on Boeing Field in Seattle, with a production run that included the legendary B-17 Flying Fortress, B-52 Stratofortress and the worlds first large swept-wing jet the XB-47 Stratojet. While the old assembly building at Plant 2 seemed cavernous, it still wasnt tall enough for the 737s tail, which was attached using a crane in the parking lot. The plane was then rolled down to a nearby plant known as the Thompson Site, where Boeing had set up the first production line for the 737.

The twin-engine Boeing 737 was developed as a direct competitor of the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 but did not fly until about 2 years after the latter's introduction. The 737 was initially produced in two versions, the 737-100 and the 737-200. Except for 30 units, the aircraft initially produced were the 737-200 version, which is a stretched, higher capacity, and heavier aircraft than the 737-100. The total number of orders for the 737 was 978 by mid-1982, at which time the type was being manufactured at the rate of 8 per month.

The Dash 100 model, which had a length only one foot longer than its wingspan, was nicknamed "Fat Albert" because its shape was so stubby compared to most airliners. The prototype flew for the first time on April 9, 1967, and had only 978 flight hours on its airframe. Since the first order for 737-100s was from Lufthansa Airlines, Boeing had designated the prototype as PA-099: PA for Lufthansa, and 099 as the last one in a block of 100 aircraft numbers Boeing had reserved for the airline.

The prototype was never sold, however, because it was only certified for experimental use. With all the holes, wiring and other modifications that were made to the airplane for certification tests, bringing it up to the standards of a commercial transport airplane would have been too expensive. Boeing used the airplane for a few additional flight tests and then simply set it aside.

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 727s 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 planes performance in these conditions led to orders in Africa. Later, airlines in Central and South America, Asia and Australia bought the versatile jet.

The two engines are mounted under the wings in a manner similar to that of the 707. The proximity of the engine nacelles to the under surface of the wing highlights the problem incurred by the underwing engine location as the size of the aircraft is reduced. The desire to avoid a high-mounted horizontal tail, and its possible stability problems, apparently was largely responsible for the choice of this engine location instead of the aft-fuselage-mounted arrangement. The horizontal tail is located on the fuselage below the root of the vertical tail. The 737 uses basically the same Pratt & Whitney engines as those employed on the Boeing 727 and the McDonnell Douglas DC-9.

The 737 fuselage appears short and stubby, due to its large upper-fuselage diameter, which is the same as for the 707 and the 727, and its short length, which is less than for the 707 or the 727. 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 737s two-person flight deck became standard among air carriers. The higher fineness ratio fuselage and greater length of the DC-9 results from the use of a five-abreast seating arrangement and consequent smaller fuselage diameter. The short fuselage length of the 737 along with the wide lateral separation of the underwing-mounted engines result in the large vertical tall on the aircraft.

The geometry of the 737 wing is very similar to that of the DC-9. The high-lift and control systems of the 737 are like those for the 727. An examination of the data for the 737-200 and the DC-9-30 shows a close similarity in the size, weight, and performance of the two aircraft. This similarity Would be expected since they were designed for similar operations. The major difference in performance of the two aircraft is the longer range of the 737 with full fuel tanks.

A major new derivative of the Boeing 737 began initial deliveries late in 1984. Designated the 737-300, the new aircraft is a stretched, heavier variant of the 737-200 powered with the GE Snecma CFM turbofan engines of 20 000 pounds thrust and bypass ratio of 6.0. Lower seat-per-mile costs and reduced noise are among the advantage offered by the improved aircraft.

Dual ceremonies on 26 January 1988 celebrated the simultaneous rollout of the Boeing 737-400 and the 747-400. Offering 18 more seats than the 737-300 in typical 2-class configurations, the 737-400 also offered charter and tour operators seating for up to 168 passengers. The 737-500 is one of the shortest 737-series passenger jets that Boeing ever built. Thirty-one meters (101ft 9in) long, it seats just 120 passengers and is the smallest classic jet in the Lufthansa fleet. Only the regional jets operated by the Lufthansa subsidiary CityLine hold fewer passengers. The 737-500 has been serving Lufthansa as a city hopper since 1990, leaving the principle routes to larger planes. Yet aside from its size, it easily measures up to its 737-300 colleagues its even powered by the same type of jet engine.

In 1973, a group of engineers at the NASA Langley Research Center successfully argued for the purchase of a Boeing 737 research aircraft in which to develop, test, and demonstrate advanced technologies for use by the commercial air transport industry. On July 26, 1973, NASA officially purchased Boeings prototype 737-100 aircraft. Over the course of the next two decades, the airplane was involved in more than 20 different research projects, most of which were focused on improving the efficiency, capacity, and safety of the air transportation system.

NASA 515 is the first B-737 built. First used by Boeing to qualify the 737 for airline service, the prototype 737 has since been heavily modified by NASA. It has two separate cockpits - a conventional B-737 forward cockpit providing operational support and safety backup, and an operational research flight deck positioned behind in what was the aircraft's first-class cabin section.

On June 12, 1987, the plane that had to play catch-up did; its orders surpassed the 727, making it the most-ordered plane in commercial history. As of 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.

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Page last modified: 10-05-2017 12:56:33 ZULU