Boeing’s 737 jet isn’t just popular, it’s wildly popular.
Boeing celebrated delivery of the 8,000th 737 single-aisle commercial airliner to come off the production line on Wednesday, which also marks a milestone for Spirit AeroSystems.
Spirit, and Boeing’s Wichita commercial airline division before it, have built the fuselages for all 8,000 planes.
Spirit builds the fuselage, pylons and thrust reversers in Wichita and wing components in Tulsa.
It’s taken Boeing 46 years to reach this point. That’s an average of roughly 175 planes a year.
You see, when Boeing first launched the 737, it was, in effect, half a 707. And it had fairly poor sales, enough so that Boeing considered dropping the product line. The short haul 727 was doing quite well in sales.
But the 737 proved itself to have a great deal of room for improvement and growth. The 737 not only effectively replaced the 727 in service, it also replaced its (then) main competitor, the DC-9/MD-80 series. It even has pretty much replaced the plane designed to replace it, the 757.
The NEXGEN 737s set for introduction in 2017 share little in common with the original 737-100 series beyond the diameter of the fuselage. The engines, interiors, wing and many of the systems are new. But the layout and underlying structure are so sound, there are no plans to replace the 737 in production.
Boeing has another 3,700 737s on order, meaning the Renton plant will be turning out jets for quite a while.