October 7, 2022
The Longest Ever Boeing 737 Commercial Flight

The Longest Ever Boeing 737 Commercial Flight

DALLAS – The most-sold commercial aircraft, the Boeing 737 series, has an average range of between 5,000 and 7,000 km, depending on the variant. With this range, most commercial flights last a maximum of seven hours, depending on weight and other restrictions.

In 1999, Boeing came out with a VIP version of the 737 called the BBJ, or the Boeing Business Jet series. This particular aircraft broke all records and still holds the title for the longest ever operated 737 flight.

That particular Boeing 737 BBJ flew a bold 13 hours 51 minutes 42 seconds nonstop covering a mammoth distance of 6252.2 NM (11,580 km).

Flight map of the legs: Author via Great Circle Mapper

The Routing

Leg 1

The long day for this particular Boeing 737 and its crew began at Martin State Airport (MTN) with the take-off at 08:32 am local time. She climbed to 37,000ft and flew north-easterly up to and till Kennebunkport, Maine, on the east coast of the US.

Leg 2

Upon reaching Kennebunkport, it made a sharp turn to the west, maintained its track, and climbed to 39,000 ft. After nearly 6 hours and 30 minutes, it was overhead Seattle on the west coast of the US.

Leg 3

The next leg saw the aircraft turn south and a further climb to 41,000 ft straight to the Californian city of San Diego.

Leg 4

The longest leg of them all started overhead San Diego when it commenced a south-easterly track right through Texas until reaching its waypoint of Miami.

Leg 5

The last leg saw the Boeing 737 BBJ head northeast to Baltimore, where the aircraft established a holding pattern until the fuel was at normal reserve levels and finally landed not at Baltimore but at Sussex County Airport (GED), Delaware, back on the American East Coast.

Global Jet Austria, M-YBBJ, Boeing 737-7HE BBJ. Photo: Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Factsheet for the Flight

  • The average speed of the flight was 451 knots (519 miles per hour).
  • The amount of fuel used was 65,580 pounds (29,746.6 kilograms).
  • The amount of fuel still in reserve at landing was 5,520 pounds (2,503 kilograms).

Michael Hewett, 737 BBJ chief pilot along with Clay Lacy, former UA 747pilot staged the airplane back at Martin State Airport the following Thursday after the BBJ had been installed with auxiliary fuel tanks at PATS, Inc near GED.

“This is a great airplane,” said Hewett. “Business jet owners now have the interior space and the range to do business on a global scale. This is a ‘one-stop to anywhere in the world’ business tool.”

This particular BBJ had a nine-tank fuel system along with an additional capacity of 14,458 liters (3820 USG), giving it an enormous total capacity of 40,480 liters (10,695 USG).

The original BBJ is designed on the Boeing 737-700 NG but featured a stronger wing and landing gear unit from the Boeing 737-800 while it shares the same CFM-56 engines. The aircraft comes with a choice of nine or five auxiliary tanks that determine the ultimate range while most private operators prefer the latter.

Variants of the Boeing 737 BBJ

BBJ is based on the 737-700

BBJ2 is based on the 737-800.

BBJ3 is based on the 737-900ER.

BBJ C features the “quick change” capability. This allows the aircraft to be used for executive duty during one flight, and be quickly reconfigured for cargo duty for the next flight.

BBJ 8 and BBJ 9 (MAX) are variants of the Boeing 737-8 and 9 with new CFM LEAP-1B engines and advanced winglets providing 13% better fuel burn.

Featured image: 737 BBJ. Photo: Boeing

Commercial pilot | Flight Instructor | Aviation Journalist & writer.

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