Essay on History of the Boeing 737

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University of California, Santa Barbara
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Research paper
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The history of the Boeing 737 is not complete without looking back at the history of the Boeing Company. William Edward Boeing, an aviation pioneer, founded Boeing Company on July 15, 1916. By then, the companys location was Seattle, and it was then known as Pacific Aero Products Company. However, the name was later changed to Boeing in honor of the founder. In November of 1916, the company designed its first plane called Model 2C. It was a two-place training seaplane. It was powered by Curtiss OX-5 engine. When the US entered world war in 1917, it purchased 51 of the 56 planes the company had in stock. The purchased marked the beginning of the relationship of the company with the US military. The purchase was a great commercial success of the company. Throughout the 1920s, the company was involved in the production of many models of the aircraft both for transportation purposes as well as for the military. The companys first plane intended for passenger transport was instead used for transporting mails. It was not until 1927 when the company created a subsidiary known as Boeing Air Transport. Four years later, Boeing Transport was renamed United Airlines. The World War II had a major impact on the company due to the great Depression. In 1939, the companys rival, McDonnell Douglas Corporation was the first company to successfully built profitable commercial airplane known by model DC-3. The DC-3 was used for ferrying up to 90% of the US travelers by air at the onset of World War II. To counter DC-3, Boeing Company built 314 Clipper, a long range and the largest passenger aircraft of that time. The aircraft featured many amenities including dining salons and dressing rooms and was capable of carrying 90 passengers (Aerotime, 2016).

Following the end of the World War II, orders for military aircraft dropped significantly leading to massive job losses in the company. To address the issue of the slowing demand, the company began to develop aircraft for commercial purposes that were powered by turbofans rather than propellers and that were capable of crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Boeing was not the only company working on this project to produce planes capable of transatlantic flights. There were British, French, and Soviet companies working on similar projects. However, in 1958, Boeing Company built the first Boeing-707. It was an aircraft powered by four engines and was capable of carrying 156 passengers across the Atlantic. Flight reduced the time to cross the Atlantic and passengers soon developed a great interest in the 707. After the 707 model, the company introduced the 727, a trijet, and later 737, a twin jet. The 737 airliner became the best-selling commercial airline by the end of the 20th century (Aerotime, 2016).

The Boeing 737

The Boeing 737 is classified commercial transport aircraft produced by Boeing Company that can accommodate two crew and up to 108 travelers. The first flight of the 737 was made on April 9, 1967. The model number of the aircraft is 737-100/-200. 737 has a span of 93 feet, the length of 93 feet 9 inches, and a gross weight of 111,000 pounds. Its maximum cruising altitude is 35,000 feet at 580 miles per hour with a range of 1,150 miles. The aircraft is powered by two 14,000 pound thrust engines, model P&W JT8D-7.

Development of the Boeing 737

The concept that led to the development of the 737 was born in 1958 when Boeing announced that it was conducting a design study for an airliner with twin-engines which was going to complete the family of its passenger airplanes. It was not until 1965 when the first order was placed, and the project development went ahead. Boeing Company wanted a plane for short-haul that was going to compete with other models produced by other manufacturers: DC-9. BAC 1-11, and Caravelle. Work on the design of the 737 commenced on November 1964. Initially, the specifications were for a plane with a seating capacity of between 60 and 85 passengers with an economical operating range of 100-1000 miles and which it can break-even at a load factor of 35%. One of the greatest challenge facing the designers of the 737 was where to put the engines. The 737, however, utilized the designs of the previous Boeing 727 and 707 (Brady, 1999).

It was in 1965 when Boeing Company was known for its big multiengine jet aircraft. Following its announcement of the 737, a new commercial airplane with a twinjet, it was immediately nicknamed Bay Boeing. The first aircraft of the 737 series was the last new aircraft that was built at the Plant No.2 at the companys Seattle manufacturing plant. It was manufactured alongside the well-known B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-52 Stratofortress. Additionally, the last new aircraft built then at the plant was XB-47 Stratojet, the first large swept wing jet to be built in the world. Although the old assembly building plant, Plant 2, appeared cavernous, it was not tall enough to accommodate the height of the tail of the 737. A crane was used to attach it on the parking lot. Afterward, the aircraft was then rolled down to a plant near the assembly, Thomson site, where the company had set up the first manufacturing plant for the 737 series.

The first 737 was introduced into the world on January 7, 1967, at a ceremony that was held inside the new plant, Thompson Site. That day, 17 airlines had ordered new 737 models, and their flight attendants had attended the ceremony. That year, 1967, 737 became not only the smaller but also the shorter-range twinjet commercial aircraft that complemented both the 707 as well as the 727 models. Although there was a growing demand for the transport aircraft in this category, 737 was facing stiff competition from other models especially the British Aircraft Corporation BAC 1-11 and the Douglas DC-9. To save the time used in production, and deliver the plane to the market in the shortest time possible, Boeing Company fitted a similar upper lobe fuselage to 737 as the fuselage founding both 707 and 727. Consequently, the same cargo pallets for upper deck could be used in the three planes. Later, the 737 had to use the cargo convertible features similar to those of the 727. The arrangement allowed the interior of the 737 to be converted from passenger to transport cargo in the model 737-200 series.

The 737 series for passenger transport comprised six-abreast seating arrangement while its counterpart, the DC-9 had a five-abreast sitting arrangement. This made it possible for the 737 to carry more passengers than the DC-9. Consequently, the seating arrangement or its high capacity became its selling point. Further, additional seats were added to the 737 by installing the engines under the wings. Further, the placement of the engines under the wing of the 737 resulted in substantial noise reduction, decreased vibration while making it easier to maintain the aircraft at the ground level. In similar performance with the previous model, 727, the 737 airplane was capable of being operated self-sufficiently when they landed in small airports as well as on remote in fairly unimproved fields. Following its performance under these conditions, the plane received a lot of orders from many airlines including Africa, Central and South America, Australia, and Asia.

Initially, the planes equal length and width made it be called a square. With the utilization of the new technology, the position of the flight engineer became unnecessary with two persons in the cockpit of the 737s becoming the standard for other airplanes. On April 9, 1967, 737 made its maiden flight two years following its launch. The earliest 737s developed some problems including clamshell reversers and landing gear (Brady, 1999). On March 15, 1965, Lufthansa signed a contract with Boeing for 21 order of 737 130 (Holtje, 2011). The first production of the 737-100 series was delivered to Lufthansa on December 28, 1967, which took place in a ceremony conducted at the Boeing facility. This was followed by another order placed the following day by the first domestic customer, United Airlines which ordered 737-200. The last 737-200 series was delivered on August 8, 1988. On January 26, 1988, Boeing also conducted dual ceremonies to celebrate the rollout of 737-400 which was rolled out simultaneously with 747-400 (Boeing, n.d.).

By the year 1987, 737 broke commercial history as the most ordered airplane. Not all airline customers desired the extra capacity that came with the newer series of 737 and this prompted the company to launch the 737-500 in 1987 to replace the 737-200 with additional length and efficient engines with 25% fuel savings (Modern Airlines, 2017). Two thousand eight hundred and eighty-seven 737s were on order in January 1991 with models 737-300, 737-400, and 737-500 were in the production line. By 1993, 737 customers had ordered three thousand, one hundred airplanes. By then the company had commenced developing the next generation series of 737which comprised 737-600, 737-700, 737-800, and also 737-900 (Boeing, 2017). In less than a year, the company certified and consequently delivered the first of its three next-generation models.

On November 1993, Boeing Company launched 737-700 which could carry between 126 to 149 passengers, but it was delivered to the customer in December 1997. The 737-800 series, launched on September 5, 1994, had a seating capacity of between 162 and 189 passengers. The 737-600 series could carry between 110 and 132 passengers, and it was also delivered to the customer in 1998. The 737-900, delivered in the year 2001, had the largest seating capacity of between 177 and 189 travelers (Boeing, 2017). Following the launch of the 737-900, many customers became interested in the plane, and several orders were made, but they were to show greater interest in the replacement of the 737-900s with its new long range and higher capacity 737-900ER which was launched in 2005.

Boeing Company launched a variant of the 737 dubbed Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) in 1996 following a merger between the company and General Electric. The merger was specifically formed to design airplanes for corporate as well as for VIP applications. It was to be a high-performance version of the 737-700 series. In October 1999, the BBJ was announced to be based on 737-800, and it was to have a 25% additional cabin space as well as twice the space for cargo as that of BBJ (American Flyers, 2017; Boeing, 2017).

The 737 series has continued to serve as a platform for military variants that include the airborne early warning and control (AEW&C). 19 of the 737-200s has been modified as T-43 navigator trainers and has been purchased by the U.S. Air Force. The 737 series has also served as a platform for the U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon which is a long-range maritime patrol as well as reconnaissance aircraft. The Navy C-40A Clipper, an all-cargo variant, is also certified to operate as a passenger plane or even as a combination of cargo and passenger. The Air Force C-40B, a variant of 737 has been used to comfortable, reliable, and safe transport for U.S. senior government officials and combatant commanders to locations around the world.

The 737 series has been evolving. One of the most recent family is the 737 MAX which is a single-aisle airplane. The 737 MAX family comprise the 737 MAX 7, -MAX 8 and -MAX 9. The company has also produced a variant that is based on the737 MAX 8 named the 737 MAX 200. The 737 MAX series are more efficient in their structural design with fewer maintenance requirements and also lower engine thrust (American Flyers, 2017). The design has been specifically arrived at to achieve significant customer cost savings. Additionally, the designers of the 737 MAX series incorporated the latest engine technology with reduced noise levels, and thus the plane will be operating on a low noise footprint (Boeing, 2017). Also...

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