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

Business Traveller (Middle East) - - Front Page -

Salut­ing Boe­ing’s pop­u­lar B737 as it notches up its 50th birth­day

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.

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 Zurich-Frankfurt 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-New York in a B737 Max non­stop (with Nor­we­gian).

The air­craft has found favour with low­cost 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.

The -10 launched at the Paris Air­show will take on the A321­neo and ex­tends seat ca­pac­ity to 230.

Main: The first B737 In­set: B737 Max

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