Boeing 737 Spotting Guide


Boeing 737-4Q8 of Alaska Air, registration N769ASBoeing 737 of Alaska Airlines

Originally developed as a shorter, lower-cost twin-engine airliner derived from the Boeing 707 and 727, Boeing has developed the 737 into a large family of passenger models with capacities from 85 to 215 passengers.

It features six-abreast seating.

The 737, also known as the "Baby Boeing", is Boeing's only narrow-body airliner in production, and remains one of the best-selling jet commercial airliners. It currently competes primarily with the Airbus A320 family.

Boeing 737 Generations

The four main "generations" of the 737 are as follows:

  • Original - 737-100 and 737-200
  • Classic - 737-300, 737-400 and 737-500
  • NG (Next Generation) - 737-600, 737-700, 737-800 and 737-900
  • MAX - 737-7, 737-8 and 737-9

Boeing 737 Originals: The -100 and -200s

Originally envisioned in 1964, the initial 737-100 made its first flight in April of 1967 and entered airline service in February of 1968 at Lufthansa. Boeing ultimately built only 30 737-100 airliners.

The -100 was lengthened by 76" (36" ahead of and 40" behind the wing) into the 737-200, which entered service in April of 1968.

Boeing also offered the 737-200C Convertible and the 737-200QC Quick Change models. By the time production ended in August of 1988, Boeing had assembled 1,114 737-200 aircraft.

Boeing 737 Classics: The -300, -400 and -500

In the 1980s Boeing launched the -300, -400, and -500 models, subsequently referred to as the Boeing 737 Classic series.

The 737 Classics used CFM56 turbofan engines, which created an engineering design challenge caused by the low ground clearance of the 737.

The problem was solved by placing the engine ahead of the wing, and by moving engine accessories to the sides (rather than the bottom) of the engine pod. This configuration gave the 737 engine enclosure a distinctive non-circular air intake, aka the "hamster pouch".

The 737 Classic's wing incorporated a number of changes for improved aerodynamics, and was extended 9 inches. The leading-edge slats and trailing-edge flaps were adjusted, and the cockpit featured enhanced electronics.

Production occurred from 1984 to 2000, with 1,988 aircraft delivered.

Boeing 737 NGs: The -600, -700, -800 and -900

In the 1990s, Boeing introduced the 737 Next Generation, with multiple changes including a redesigned, increased span laminar flow wing, upgraded "glass" cockpit, and new interior.

The 737NG series can seat between 110 and 210 passengers, and includes these models:

  • The 737-600 is the replacement of the 737-500, and competes with the Airbus A318. Length: 102' 6"
  • The 737-700 replaced the 737-300, with competition typically from the Airbus A319. Boeing also offers an extended range 737-700ER. Length: 110' 4"
  • The Boeing 737-800 is a stretched version of the 737-700, and replaces the 737-400. Length: 129' 6"
  • The longest variant in the series is the 737-900, along with the 737-900ER (Extended Range). The ER features an additional pair of exit doors. Length: 138' 2"

As of December 2016, a total of 6,269 737-NG airliners have been delivered, with more on order.

Boeing has also built versions of the Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) based on the 737. The U.S. Navy operates the P-8 Poseidon, a modified 737-800ERX.

Boeing 737 MAX CFM LEAP-1B EngineBoeing 737 MAX CFM LEAP-1B Engine

Boeing 737 MAX Program

Boeing announced its new, fuel-efficient 737 MAX Family in 2011: 737 MAX 7, 737 MAX 8 and 737 MAX 9.

The aircraft achieves higher efficiency due to its new wing, split-tip winglets and engine design. It will feature the new Boeing Sky Interior.

The MAX series will be powered by LEAP-1B engines made by CFM, which is co-owned by General Electric and France's Safran.

The first flight of the 737 MAX 8 took place in 2016, and currently four aircraft are engaged in testing. Certification of the 737 MAX 8 was given by the FAA on March 9, 2017.

Initial delivery of the 787 MAX 8 was to Malasia-based Malindo Air, rebranding as Batik Air Malaysia, in May of 2017.

Batik 787 MAX 8 at takeoff (photo courtesy of the Boeing Company)
Boeing 737 MAX 8 airliner of Batik Air Malaysia at takeoff

 

Norwegian Air Shuttle, took delivery of its first two 737 Max 8 aircraft on June 29, 2017, at the Boeing plant in Seattle:

Boeing 737 MAX 8 - Registration EI-FYA, MSN 42830 - Tail fin to feature image of airline entrepreneur Freddie Laker

 

Boeing 737 MAX 8 - Registration EI-FYB, MSN 42826 - Tail fin to feature image of Irish Antartic explorer Tom Crean

These were the second and third MAX delivered. Norwegian has over 100 737 MAX aircraft on order.

Boeing 737 MAX 8 EI-FYB of Norwegian Air (photo courtesy of Norwegian Air Shuttle)
Boeing 737 MAX 8 EI-FYB of Norwegian Air

 

The rollout of the first 787 MAX 9 occured on March 7, 2017, and the first flight took place on April 13, 2017 from Renton, Washington. Design work continues in 2017 on the 737 MAX 7.

The Boeing 737 MAX 10 Announced at the 2017 Paris Air Show

At the Paris Air Show in June of 2017, Boeing officials announced the availability of a stretched MAX airliner, the 737 Max 10. The airliner would seat up to 230 passengers, and be 66 inches longer than the 737 MAX 9.

Boeing 737 Assembly

737 final assembly is conducted at the Boeing Renton Factory in Renton, Washington, in the greater Seattle area.

Spirit AeroSystems manufactures the 737 fuselages, pylon, thrust reverser and engine nacelles at its Wichita, Kansas facility. Spirit also builds the 737 wing leading edges, at its Tulsa, OK plant. The Spirit components are shipped to Renton for final assembly.

The Boeing Propulsion South Carolina facility is involved with the design and assembly of the 737 MAX engine nacelle inlet.

 

Boeing 737 Spotting Tips

Spotting tips for the Boeing 737, a narrow-body jet airliner featuring a pointed nose, one engine under each wing, a triangular section on the front of the tail, and two twin-wheel main landing gears.
Boeing 737 spotting guide and tips

Engines on the 737 Classic series (300, 400, 500) and Next-Generation series (600, 700, 800, 900) do not have circular inlets like most aircraft.

The 737 Classics used CFM56 turbofan engines, which posed an engineering challenge given the low ground clearance of the 737.

The problem was solved by placing the engine ahead of the wing, and by moving engine accessories to the sides (rather than the bottom) of the engine pod. This configuration gave the 737 engine enclosure a distinctive non-circular air intake, aka the "hamster pouch".

Boeing 737 engine enclosure has a distinctive non-circular air intake, aka the "hamster pouch"

Retracted main landing gear on a Boeing 737 are not enclosed in the fuselage, but are open-air
Retracted landing gear on a Boeing 737 are not enclosed in the fuselage, but are open-air

Spotting guide for the Boeing 737-700, 737-800 and 737-900,
the Next Generation "NG" Series.

All NG series models feature blended winglets. Split Scimitar winglets are available for the 737-700, 737-800, 737-900 and 737-900ER.

Boeing 737-700 has two cabin doors, and one emergency exit over the wing, on each side of the fuselage.

Boeing 737-800 has two cabin doors, and two emergency exits over the wing, on each side of the fuselage.

Boeing 737-900 has similar door configurations as the 737-800, except that the 737-900ER has an additional exit door aft of the wing, on each side of the fuselage.

Spotting guide for the Boeing 737-700, 737-800 and 737-900, the Next Generation "NG" Series


Boeing 737 Photographs

Boeing 737-100 Prototype - N73700
Boeing 737-100 Prototype - N73700

This Boeing 737-130, the first production 737, is on display at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington. The prototype made its first flight on April 9, 1967. Boeing used this 737 as a flight test aircraft before it became NASA's Transport Systems Research Vehicle in 1974. (Staff Photo)
Boeing 737-130, the first production 737, is on display at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington

Boeing 737-200 of Western Airlines, showing the tubular-style engine housing of the -200
Boeing 737-200 of Western Airlines, showing the tubular-style engine housing of the -200

Boeing 737-330 of Lufthansa, Registration Number D-ABXS
Boeing 737-330 of Lufthansa, Registration Number D-ABXS

Boeing 737-400 of British Airways
British Airways Boeing 737-400

Boeing 737-4Q8 of Alaska Air, registration N769AS
Boeing 737-4Q8 of Alaska Air, registration N769AS

Boeing 737 of Alaska Air on the ground at San Diego International Airport (SAN) in California
Boeing 737 of Alaska Air on the ground at San Diego International Airport (SAN) in California

Boeing 737-700 of Aerolineas Argentinas
Boeing 737-700 of Aerolineas Argentinas

Ryan Air Boeing 737-800
Ryan Air Boeing 737-800
Boeing 737-900ER TC-JYJ of Turkish Airlines
Boeing 737-900 of Turkish Airlines

Royal Jet Boeing 737-700 BBJ - Boeing Business Jet
Royal Jet Boeing 737-700 BBJ - Boeing Business Jet, registered in the United Arab Emirates at A6-RJZ


Airliners Parked at Storage Facilities in the Desert

Commercial airliners all have limited lifespans, even the popular Boeing 737. Ultimately, they must be retired from service, stored in "airplane boneyards" or graveyards, and finally dismantled and scrapped.

Jetliners in storage at the Phoenix Goodyear Airport in the Arizona desertJetliners in storage at the Phoenix Goodyear Airport in the Arizona desert (Staff photo)

Jetliners eventually reach end-of-life due to airframe wear and/or obsolescence. Some jetliners are temporarily taken off flying status, and must be stored in a environment that is conducive to preservation, such as the great deserts of the western United States. Others are kept for spare parts for flying aircraft.

To protect airliners during their storage from wind and sun damage, engines and windows are tightly covered with white, reflective materials. A sealed airliner can thus be stored safely, for years, until the time comes to return it to active duty, or salvage. Eventually, all airliners are removed permanently from service and must be "disposed" of.

We have spotted and photographed a variety of Boeing and Airbus jet airliners at many airline boneyards in the western U.S., including:

  • Mojave Airport in California
  • Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA) in Victorville, California
  • Pinal Airpark near Tucson, Arizona
  • Phoenix Goodyear Airport in Arizona

... and view photos of commercial airliner boneyards at www.AirplaneBoneyards.com

C&T Charters Boeing 737 parked in desert storage at the Phoenix Goodyear Airport in Arizona (Staff Photo)
View similar photos at AirplaneBoneyards.com
C&T Charters Boeing 737 parked at the Phoenix Goodyear Airport in Arizona
Boeing 737-700 of GOL Brazilian airlines, registration N320GL, undergoing reclamation at the Pinal Airpark in Arizona (Staff Photo, May 2017)
View similar photos at AirplaneBoneyards.com
Boeing 737-700 of GOL Brazilian airlines, registration N320GL

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