1967 The B737 takes flight

Alex McWhirter re­ports on the evo­lu­tion of the ‘Baby Boe­ing’, now half a cen­tury old

Business Traveller (India) - - SNAPSHOT -

Now 50 years old, the “Baby Boe­ing”is ar­guably the most suc­cess­ful and ver­sa­tile com­mer­cial air­craft ever made. Orig­i­nally in­tended to be a short-range 107-seater, the B737 has de­vel­oped over the past half-cen­tury into a 180-seater jet (the B737 Max) ca­pa­ble of cross­ing the At­lantic Ocean.

What made the B737 spe­cial was its wider cabin (the same as the long-range B707). It en­abled air­lines to in­stall six­across (3-3) seat­ing, and to carry more pas­sen­gers per flight, at a time when ri­vals such as the DC-9 and BAC1-11 of­fered 2-3 ac­com­mo­da­tion.

As a teenager in June 1968, my first B737 flight was ZurichFrank­furt with Lufthansa. Over the decades, I’ve flown B737s count­less times with con­ven­tional and low-cost car­ri­ers over a va­ri­ety of routes. Be­fore the end of this sum­mer, it will even be pos­si­ble to fly Ed­in­burgh-NewYork in a B737 Max non­stop (with Nor­we­gian Air).

The air­craft has found favour with low-cost car­ri­ers as a true work­horse. Air­lines such as South­west and Ryanair op­er­ate noth­ing but huge num­bers of B737s.

Since the air­craft’s launch, Boe­ing has had or­ders for al­most 14,000 B737s from most air­lines around the world. The lat­est Max vari­ants will keep its Seat­tle plant busy for years to come.

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