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5,000 Guppies…

February 22nd, 2006 · 3 Comments

This is kind of “old” news (it happened last week), but this is the first chance I’ve had to sit down and write here.

On the 13th of February, Boeing rolled out its 5000th 737. Randy Baseler’s Boeing Journal has a good entry about it.

The type got its start with a design-study for a twin-engined jet that began in 1958. The new design was initially intended as a short-haul jet to compete with the BAC-111 and the DC-9, which were farther ahead in development at the time. The first order for the 737 was placed in February of 1965 (that’s forty-one years ago, folks) and the first flight was April of 1967. The first aircraft to be delivered, was to the launch-customer Lufthansa, in February of 1968.

Since that initial delivery, the aircraft has gone through some changes. The first, the 737-200, happened concurrently with the development of the initial 737. Changes were very slight, the -200 being seven feet longer and equipped with slightly more powerful engines at the request of -200 launch customer United Airlines. Other incarnations saw varied body-lengths, advancements and upgrades in engines and avionics, and changes in wing design (on the Next Generation versions). There have been nine variants, altogether: the -300, -400, -500, -600/-700, and the -800/-900. Each of them varied slightly and incorporated (for the most part) the latest advances available.

So now that Boeing has built 5,000 of this airplane type, what’s next? Well, they’ve still got 900 more to build in order to fill firm orders!


Some interesting Boeing 737 facts:
* About 1,250 737s are in the air at any time.
* A 737 takes off somewhere in the world every 5 seconds.
* The 737 fleet has flown about 296 million hours in revenue service
* The 737 has travelled 75 billion nautical miles in 232 million flights.
* 737′s 737’s have carried about 12 billion passengers.

737 Production Numbers (as of 1/1/05):
* -100/-200: 1,144 (Last delivery, 2 Aug 1988)
* -300: 1,113 (Last delivery, 17 Dec 1999)
* -400: 489 (Last delivery, 25 Feb 2000)
* -500: 388 (Last delivery, 21 Jul 1999)
* -600: 56 (Still in production)
* -700: 645 (Still in production)
* -800: 869 (Still in production)
* -900: 46 (Still in production)

For a more detailed history of the Boeing 737, please visit The 737 Technical Site.

Why’s it called a guppy? Well, the 747 is the largest airliner that Boeing builds, and is nicknamed “The Whale” by the pilots who’ve flown it. The 737 is the smallest of Boeing’s commercial aircraft offerings, and can you get more opposite of “whale” than “guppy?”

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 All the Hardways // Feb 22, 2006 at 9:58 am

    I was wondering if Boeing or Southwest painted a special decal on the body of this 5000th 737? If not, would you happen to know the N# of this aircraft? It’d be great if it was N7375K, but then it’s missing the “SW” or “WN.” Has this aircraft been integrated into Southwest’s schedule yet? I’ll keep an eye out for it when I go plane spotting.

    I was also wondering if you’ve helped deliver a brand new aircraft during your career. If so, is there a special selection process for this? Are there special procedures required for breaking in a new airplane?

  • 2 GC // Feb 22, 2006 at 8:59 pm

    During one summer of my flight instruction days, I made several trips to Independence, KS to the Cessna factory there to take delivery of new 172-S aircraft for our flight school. Each time I went, I airlined out to Tulsa and drove up with one of the school’s mechanics. We’d do a pre-delivery inspection as well as an acceptance flight to test out all the systems and make sure everything was in perfect working order. The following day, we’d start our journey home in the new aircraft.

    I have not had the opportunity to be a part of the acceptance process of any new jets for either of the airlines I’ve worked for. For the regional I was with, you pretty much had to be a muckity-muck senior check-airman. But for my current airline, I’m told they’ll send reserve FO’s.

    From what I understand, there is an acceptance flight during which several tests are done to make sure everything works properly. I’ve heard they can be quite fun, as you have to do some maneuvers and procedures that normal line pilots wouldn’t ever get to do.

    If I ever get a chance to be part of the delivery of a brand new aircraft, I’ll make sure to write about it.

    As far as the N-number of the 5000th 737, I’ll get back to you.

  • 3 GC // Feb 22, 2006 at 9:08 pm


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