Written by: Zvonimir Tolj and Brandon Farris
MIAMI — Boeing celebrated yesterday the 10,000th rollout of its 737 family aircraft — a major milestone for the U.S.-based manufacturer and its 737 program.
The 10,000th 737 just rolled off the assembly line and we are in awe. Thank you to our many customers! We love building 737s for you with excellence, pride and passion. #Boeing #avgeek pic.twitter.com/wIEgZiT4nb
— Boeing Airplanes (@BoeingAirplanes) March 7, 2018
Southwest Airlines, the world’s largest Boeing 737 operator, will take delivery of the 10,000th plane — this time, a brand-new Boeing 737 MAX 8.
For Southwest, this is the 712th Boeing 737 to join the airline’s fleet. The all-737 fleet, includes 513 Boeing 737-700s, 186 737-800s, and 13 737 MAX 8s. The latter can accommodate up to 175 passengers.
Spirit AeroSystems, which is the company that has built the 737 fuselages since 1996, commemorated the milestone along with the manufacturer.
Over the last half a decade, Boeing’s engineering and design teams have molded the 737 into more than 10 different variants.
Likewise, in this period of time, the manufacturer has renovated the aircraft’s avionics, fuel economics, and aerodynamical details, among other features that aim to improve the passenger experience.
READ MORE: Aeromexico Welcomes First Boeing 737 MAX
A Guinness World Record program!
The 10,000th 737 to be received by Southwest Airlines’ was rolled out from the painting hangar at an Employee and Media event.
“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 Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO, Kevin McAllister. “It represents 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.”
The aircraft in question carries the line number 6868 and will be registered N8717M once delivered to Southwest Airlines in the upcoming weeks.
It was originally expected for the Dallas-based carrier to be the one to receive the 10,000 737 aircraft, considering Southwest has been the launch customer on each new generation airliner for the past 30 years and is a critical partner for Boeing and its 737 program.
However, it was a disappointment to see that the aircraft is not carrying a special scheme—or even stickers—commemorating this historic achievement.
Guinness World Records recognized Boeing for its 10,000th rollout. The record, previously also held by the 737, was back in 2006 when the 5,000th aircraft rolled out of final assembly. It only took Boeing 12 years to double that number compared to the 38 years it took to achieve the 5,000 mark.
“The speed at which Boeing achieved this new milestone is very impressive,” said Michael Empric, official adjudicator for Guinness World Records. “We are excited to once again recognize the 737 and the important role it plays in commercial aviation.”
Currently, Boeing is producing 47 737’s a month, between its MAX and Next Generation aircraft types. However, the manufacturer plans to boost production to 52 airplanes a month by the end of this year and 57 by 2019. The goal is to keep up with Airbus who is planning to produce 60 A320, the direct competitor to the 737, by 2019.
The challenge for Boeing will be finding space around Renton, the manufacturer’s facility that produces only 737, to increase that number to an even higher production amount.
Overall the 737 program still has 4,600 airplanes on order with the majority of its new orders being for the MAX family along with some Next Generation aircraft.
A Brief Recap of the 737 Program
In 1965, Boeing was manufacturing four-engined jet airplanes, until the company decided to build its new commercial twinjet, which started immediately to be called “Baby Boeing”.
The manufacturer started the assembly of its newest project at Plant 2 on Boeing Field, Seattle. However, Boeing considered that the assembly building at Plant 2 seemed “cavernous” because it still wasn’t tall enough for the 737’s tail, which was attached using a crane in the parking lot.
Two years later, on January 17, 1967, the first Boeing 737 was introduced to the world. The manufacturer held a special ceremony at Thompson Site, place where the 737 production line was finalized, that included a christening by flight attendants representing the 17 carriers that acquired the new aircraft.
As the world began to know the aircraft, more nicknames appeared. The 737 was called the “square” airplane because it was as long as it was wide. It wasn’t until the technology developed the position of flight engineer redundant.
READ MORE: The Boeing 737 MAX 9 To Debut With United
The original 737 concepts pointed to seating between 50 and 60 passengers, equivalent to many of current regional jets. Though launch customer, Lufthansa, asked Boeing to stretch it to seat 100 passengers. Then, United came along and placed an order for forty 737-200s, wanting Boeing to stretch the plane too a little further.
As of today, the Boeing 737 can be categorized into four eras:
- 737 Original Series, including the 737-100, which entered into service in April 1967, and the 737-200, one year later. Respectively, Lufthansa and United Airlines took delivery as launch customers for both aircraft. Boeing manufactured 30 Boeing 737-100 and 99 Boeing 737-200.
- 737 Classic Series, consisting of the 737-300, 737-400, and 737-500s. The Classic series was originally introduced as the ‘new generation’ of the 737. Respectively, Air New Zealand, Piedmont Airlines, and Southwest Airlines were the launch operators for the three airplane kinds, which combined summarize 1988 aircraft delivered throughout 1984 to 2000.
- 737 Next Generation, featuring the 737-600, 737-700, 737-800 and 737-900s. In November 1993, the Boeing’s board of directors decided to replace the Classic Series with the Next Generation (737NG) aircraft. As of December 2017, Boeing has delivered 6,658 aircraft from 7,094 Boeing 737NGs ordered.
- 737 MAX, era which is currently in development, includes the narrow-body aircraft series of 737 MAX 7, 737 MAX 8, 737 MAX 9 along with the 737 MAX 10, announced back in June 2017. Southwest Airlines became the launch customer for the 737 MAX with a 150 aircraft order placed in late 2011. As of January 2018, the Boeing 737 MAX has received 4,307 firm orders from several customers.