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Boeing 737 Classic

For other variants of this aircraft, see Boeing 737, Boeing 737 Next Generation, and Boeing 737 MAX.
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Boeing 737 Classic
Boeing 737-300/-400/-500

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First flight

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Primary users

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Number built

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Developed from

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Developed into

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The Boeing 737 Classic is the -300/-400/-500 series of the Boeing 737, so named following the introduction of the -600/-700/-800/-900 series. They are short- to medium- range, narrow-body jet airliners produced by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. The Classic series was introduced as the 'new generation' of the 737.[2] Produced from 1984 to 2000, 1,988 aircraft were delivered.

Development and design

Following the success of the Boeing 737-200 Advanced, Boeing wanted to increase capacity and range, incorporating improvements to upgrade the plane to modern specifications, while also retaining commonality with previous 737 variants. Development began in 1979, and in 1980 preliminary aircraft specifications were released at the Farnborough Airshow.[3] In March 1981, USAir and Southwest Airlines each ordered 10 aircraft, with an option for 20 more.

The new series featured CFM56 turbofan engines, yielding significant gains in fuel economy and a reduction in noise, but also posing an engineering challenge given the low ground clearance of the 737. Boeing and engine supplier CFMI solved the problem by placing the engine ahead of (rather than below) the wing, and by moving engine accessories to the sides (rather than the bottom) of the engine pod, giving the 737 a distinctive non-circular air intake.[4]

The wing incorporated a number of changes for improved aerodynamics. The wing tip was extended Script error: No such module "convert".. The leading-edge slats and trailing-edge flaps were adjusted.[4] The flight deck was improved with the optional EFIS (Electronic Flight Instrumentation System), and the passenger cabin incorporated improvements similar to those on the Boeing 757.



The prototype of the -300 rolled out of the Renton plant on January 17, 1984, and first flew on February 24, 1984.[5] After it received its flight certification on November 14, 1984, USAir received the first aircraft on November 28.[1] A very popular aircraft, Boeing received 252 orders for it in 1985, and over 1,000 throughout its production.[6] The 300 series remained in production until 1999 when the last aircraft was delivered to Air New Zealand on December 17, 1999, registration ZK-NGJ.

In December 2008, Southwest Airlines selected Boeing to retrofit the 737-300 with a new set of instruments, hardware and software, to improve commonality with the 737-700, as well as to support the Required Navigation Performance initiative.[7]

The 737-300 can be retrofitted with Aviation Partners Boeing winglets. The 737-300 retrofitted with winglets is designated the -300SP (Special Performance). Used passenger -300 aircraft have also been converted to freighter versions. The 737-300 has been replaced by the 737-700 in the Boeing 737 Next Generation family.


The 737-400 design was launched in 1985 to fill the gap between the 737-300 and the 757-200, and competed with the Airbus A320 and McDonnell Douglas MD-80. It stretched the 737-300 another 10 ft (3.45 m) to carry up to 168 passengers. It included a tail bumper to prevent tailscrapes during take-off (an early issue with the 757), and a strengthened wing spar.[8] The prototype rolled out on January 26, 1988, and flew for the first time on 19 February 1988.

The aircraft entered service on September 15, 1988, with launch customer Piedmont Airlines (25 aircraft ordered).[1]

The 737-400F was not a model delivered by Boeing, but a 737-400 converted to freighter. The Boeing 737-400 never included winglets as an option, just like the Boeing 737-600. Alaska Airlines was the first to convert one of their 400s from regular service to an aircraft with the ability to handle ten pallets.[9] The airline has also converted five more into fixed combi aircraft for half passenger and freight. These 737-400 Combi aircraft are now in service.[10]

The 737-400 was replaced by the 737-800 in the Boeing 737 Next Generation family.


The -500 series was offered, due to customer demand, as a modern and direct replacement of the 737-200, incorporating the improvements of the 737 Classic series in a model that allowed longer routes with fewer passengers to be more economical than with the 737-300. The fuselage length of the -500 is 1 ft 7 in (47 cm) longer than the 737-200, accommodating up to 132 passengers. Both glass and older style mechanical cockpits arrangements were available.[11] Using the CFM56-3 engine also gave a 25% increase in fuel efficiency over the older -200s P&W engines.[11]

The 737-500 was launched in 1987, by Southwest Airlines, with an order for 20 aircraft,[12] and flew for the first time on 30 June 1989.[11] A single prototype flew 375 hours for the certification process,[11] and on February 28, 1990 Southwest Airlines received the first delivery.[1] The 737-500 has become a favorite of some Russian airlines, with Nordavia, Rossiya Airlines, S7 Airlines, Sky Express, Transaero, and Yamal Airlines all buying second-hand models of the aircraft to replace aging Soviet-built aircraft and/or expand their fleets. Aerolíneas Argentinas replaced its 737-200s with second-hand 737-500s. The 737-500 is now replaced by the 737-600 in the Boeing 737 Next Generation family. However, unlike the 737-500, the 737-600 has been a slow seller for Boeing since its introduction, with only 69 aircraft delivered.

As the retirement of all 737 Classic models has accelerated, with retirement of 300s and -500s climbing 40% in 2012, the 737-500 has fared worse because of its smaller size. Aircraft older than 21 years old are being retired (vs. at least 24 years old for the 737-300). While a few 737-300s are slated for freighter conversion, there is no demand at all for a -500 freighter conversion.[13]


File:Norwegian 737-300 cabin.jpg
All-economy cabin interior of a 737-300 previously operated by Norwegian Air Shuttle


As of August 2013, 1,082 Boeing 737 Classic aircraft were in commercial service. This includes 547 -300s, 319 -400s, and 216 -500s.[14]


Many countries operate the 737 passenger and cargo variants in government or military applications.


Type Total 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996 1995 1994 1993 1992 1991 1990 1989 1988 1987 1986 1985 1984
737-300 1113 29 52 65 37 52 54 54 57 69 67 89 141 137 120 83 7
737-400 486 2 9 33 33 21 13 32 68 82 56 63 57 17
737-500 389 4 31 34 18 24 35 30 79 90 44
Total 1988 2 42 116 132 76 89 121 152 218 215 174 146 158 137 120 83 7

Aircraft on display

Accidents and incidents

As of October 2013, 39 hull losses of Boeing 737 Classic series aircraft have occurred, with a total of 1,168 fatalities.[18][19][20] Notable accidents and incidents involving the 737 Classics (-300/-400/-500) include:

  • May 24, 1988: TACA Flight 110, en route to New Orleans, suffered double engine failure due to a severe hail storm. The pilot conducted a successful forced landing on a grass levee with no injuries. The aircraft was repaired and returned to service. As a result of this incident, further engine development was carried out to prevent flame-out in severe weather conditions.
  • January 8, 1989: Kegworth air disaster: British Midland Flight 92, using a 737-400, crashed outside of East Midlands Airport. Of the eight crew and 118 passengers, 47 passengers died. The left engine had suffered a fan blade fracture and the crew, unfamiliar with the 737-400, shut down the still-functional right engine, causing the aircraft to lose power.
  • May 11, 1990: Philippine Airlines Flight 143, using a 737-300 and registered as EI-BZG en route from Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Metro Manila to Iloilo Mandurriao Airport in Iloilo City, the Philippines assigned to the route, suffered an explosion in the central fuel tank and was consumed by fire in about four minutes. Eight passenger fatalities occurred among the 120 passengers and crew on board. The remaining 112 survived.[21][22]
  • February 1, 1991: USAir Flight 1493, using a 737-300, collided with a SkyWest Airlines Fairchild Metro III while landing in Los Angeles. All 12 people on the Fairchild Metro died, while 20 passengers and two crew members out of six crew members and 83 passengers died on the 737.
  • November 24, 1992: China Southern Airlines Flight 3943, using a 737-300, crashed on descent to Guilin Liangjiang International Airport in Guilin, China, killing 141 occupants on board.
  • July 26, 1993: Asiana Airlines Flight 733, using a 737-500, crashed into a mountain, killing 68 of 110 occupants.
  • September 8, 1994: USAir Flight 427, using a 737-300 with 127 passengers and five crew members, lost control after a rudder malfunction and crashed outside of Pittsburgh International Airport, killing everyone on board. The cause was determined to be the same as that which caused the crash of United Airlines Flight 585, a 737-291 that crashed on March 3, 1991.
  • December 29, 1994: Turkish Airlines Flight 278, using a 737-400, registration TC-JES and named Mersin en route from Esenboğa International Airport in Ankara, Turkey, crashed while attempting to land at Van Ferit Melen Airport in Van, in eastern Turkey. Five of the seven crew and 52 of the 69 passengers lost their lives, while two crew members and 17 passengers survived with serious injuries.[23]
  • May 8, 1997: China Southern Airlines Flight 3456, using a 737-300, crashed while landing in Shenzhen, killing 35 of 65 passengers and two of nine crew members.
  • December 19, 1997: SilkAir Flight 185, using a 737-300 with 97 passengers and seven crew members, crashed into a river in Indonesia, killing everyone on board, after the pilot intentionally dove the plane into the ground.
  • September 16, 1998: Continental Airlines Flight 475, using a 737-500, received windshear while landing in Guadalajara, Mexico. None of the passengers and crew received injuries. The aircraft was written off.[24]
  • April 7, 1999: Turkish Airlines Flight 5904, using a 737-400 with six crew members, crashed in Turkey. All of the crew on board died; no passengers flew on that flight.
  • March 5, 2000: Southwest Airlines Flight 1455, using a 737-300, overran the runway upon landing in Burbank, California, and crashed. All of the passengers and crew survived.
  • March 3, 2001: Thai Airways International Flight 114, a 737-400 bound for Chiang Mai from Bangkok, was destroyed by an explosion of the center wing tank resulting from ignition of the flammable fuel/air mixture in the tank. The source of the ignition energy for the explosion could not be determined with certainty, but the most likely source was an explosion originating at the center wing tank pump as a result of running the pump in the presence of metal shavings and a fuel/air mixture.[25] One flight attendant died.[26]
  • May 7, 2002: EgyptAir Flight 843, using a 737-500, crashed during approach to Tunis, Tunisia. Three of six crew members and 11 of 56 passengers died.[27]
  • January 3, 2004: Flash Airlines Flight 604, using a 737-300 with 135 passengers and 13 crew members, crashed into the Red Sea, killing everyone on board.
  • June 9, 2005: 2005 Logan Airport runway incursion – A 737-300 operated by US Airways as US Airways Flight 1170 avoided collision with an Aer Lingus Airbus A330 at Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • August 14, 2005: Helios Airways Flight 522, using a 737-300, suffered a gradual decompression which incapacitated five of the six crew members and all 115 passengers. The plane circled around Greece before crashing into a hill, killing everyone on board.
  • January 23, 2006: A Continental Airlines Boeing 737-500 was preparing for a flight to Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston from El Paso International Airport, when a maintenance-related engine run-up of the right-hand engine was carried out, sucking in and fatally injuring a mechanic.[28]
  • June 15, 2006: TNT Airways Flight 352, using a 737-300 Freighter and operating from Liège Airport in Belgium to London Stansted Airport in the UK had to divert to East Midlands Airport due to bad weather. On final approach, the autopilot was disengaged for a short period. The aircraft touched down off the runway to the left, resulting in the right main landing gear being detached and the right wing tip and engine scraping the ground. The pilots managed to lift off again and subsequently made an emergency diversion to Birmingham International Airport, where a landing was performed on the remaining two landing gear, during which the aircraft scraped on its nose and right engine. There were no injuries. The cause of the crash was determined to be a poorly timed message from local air traffic control which the pilot misinterpreted, causing him to descend too quickly. The team of pilots were said by the airline to have managed the situation with skill once the error had been detected, but were dismissed from service with the company as a result of the incident.[29]
  • October 3, 2006: Turkish Airlines Flight 1476, using a 737-400, was hijacked by Hakan Ekinci in Greek airspace. All 107 passengers and six crew members on board survived. The aircraft landed safely at Brindisi Airport in Italy.
  • January 1, 2007: Adam Air Flight 574, using a 737-400 with 96 passengers and six crew members, crashed off the coast of Sulawesi. The occupants were never found, and were presumed dead.
File:Adam Air crash.jpg
Adam Air Flight 172, showing the collapsed rear fuselage


Measurement 737-300[3][38] 737-400 737-500
Cockpit crew Two
Seating capacity[39] 149 (1-class, dense)
140 (1-class, typical)
128 (2-class, typical)
188[40] (1-class, maximum)
159 (1-class, typical)
146 (2-class, typical)
140 (1-class, max)
122 (1-class, typical)
108 (2-class, typical)
Seat pitch Script error: No such module "convert". (1-class, dense)
Script error: No such module "convert". (1-class, typical)
Script error: No such module "convert". & Script error: No such module "convert". (2-class, typical)
Seat width Script error: No such module "convert". (1-class, 6 abreast seating)
Overall length 33.4 m
(109 ft 7 in)
36.5 m
(119 ft 6 in)
31.1 m
(101 ft 8 in)
Wingspan 28.9 m
(94 ft 9 in)
Overall height 11.13 m
(36 ft 6 in)
11.1 m
(36 ft 5 in)
Wing sweepback 25°
Aspect ratio 9.16
Fuselage width 3.76 m (12 ft 4 in)
Fuselage height 4.11 m (13' 6")
Cabin width 3.54 m (11 ft 7 in)
Cabin height 2.20 m (7 ft 3 in)
Operating empty weight, typical 32,700 kg
(72,100 lb)
33,200 kg
(73,040 lb)
31,300 kg
(68,860 lb)
Maximum Takeoff Weight 62,820 kg
(138,500 lb)
68,050 kg
(149,710 lb)
60,550 kg
(133,210 lb)
Maximum landing weight 51,700 kg
(114,000 lb)
56,200 kg
(124,000 lb)
50,000 kg
(110,000 lb)
Maximum zero-fuel weight 48,410 kg
(106,500 lb)
53,100 kg
(117,000 lb)
46,700 kg
(103,000 lb)
Cargo capacity 23.3 m³
(822 ft³)
38.9 m³
(1,373 ft³)
23.3 m³
(822 ft³)
Takeoff field length (MTOW, SL, ISA) 2,300 m (7,546 ft) 2,540 m (8,483 ft) 2,470 m (8,249 ft)
Service ceiling 37,000 ft
Cruising speed (Mach) 0.74
Maximum speed (Mach) 0.82
Range fully loaded 4,204 km (2,270 NM) 4,204 km (2,270 NM) 4,444 km (2,402 NM)
Maximum fuel capacity 23,170 L
6,130 USG
23,800 L
6,296 USG
23,800 L
6,296 USG
Engine manufacturer CFM International
Engine type (x2) CFM56-3B-1 CFM56-3B-2 CFM56-3B-1
Takeoff thrust 90 kN (20,000 lbf) 98 kN (22,000 lbf) 90 kN (20,000 lbf)
Cruising thrust 21,810 N (4,902 lbf) 21,900 N (4,930 lbf) 21,810 N (4,902 lbf)
Fan tip diameter 1.52 m (60 in)
Engine bypass ratio 5.0:1 4.9:1 5.0:1
Engine length 2.36 m (93 in)
Engine weight (dry) 1,950 kg (4,301 lb)
Engine ground clearance 46 cm (18 in)

Sources: Boeing[41][42]

See also

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Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists


  1. ^ a b c d e Endres, 2001, p. 129.
  2. ^ Shaw, 1999, pg. 7.
  3. ^ a b Endres, 2001, p.126.
  4. ^ a b Endres, 2001, p.128.
  5. ^ Shaw, 1999, p. 10.
  6. ^ Shaw, 1999, p.7.
  7. ^ "Boeing Press Release". December 22, 2008. Retrieved 2011-03-20. 
  8. ^ Shaw, 1999, pg. 13.
  9. ^ "Boeing 737-400 Freighter". Aircraft Information. Alaska Airlines. Retrieved 2011-06-29. 
  10. ^ "Boeing 737-400 Combi (73Q)". Aircraft Information. Alaska Airlines. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  11. ^ a b c d Shaw, 1999, pg 14.
  12. ^ Shaw, 1999, pg 40.
  13. ^ Compart, Andrew, Young at part, Aviation Week and Space Technology, April 15, 2013, pp. 44-46
  14. ^ "World Airliner Census". Flight International, pp. 12-13. August 24–30, 2010.
  15. ^ "Orders and Deliveries search page". Boeing. Retrieved February 15, 2011. 
  16. ^ Hechanova, Maria (November 5, 2013). "'Most popular jetliner' added to Pima Air and Space Museum". (KOLD-TV). Retrieved 22 May 2014. 
  17. ^ "N759BA Boeing Capital Corporation (BCC) Boeing 737-3Q8 - cn 27286 / ln 2528". Retrieved 22 May 2014. 
  18. ^ "Boeing 737-300 Statistics". Aviation Safety Network. 2013-11-17. 
  19. ^ "Boeing 737-400 Statistics". Aviation Safety Network. 2013-11-17. 
  20. ^ "Boeing 737-500 Statistics". Aviation Safety Network. 2013-11-17. 
  21. ^ "Filipino jet explodes on takeoff, 7 killed". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. 12 May 1990. Retrieved 26 May 2013. 
  22. ^ Goglia, John (27 January 2011). "FAA finally takes action on fuel inerting". Aviation International News. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  23. ^ "Aircraft accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 1 January 2009. 
  24. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 737-524 N20643 Guadalajara-Miguel Hidal Airport (GDL)". 1998-09-16. Retrieved 2011-03-20. 
  25. ^ "Accident Database: Accident Synopsis 03032001". 2001-03-03. Retrieved 2011-03-20. 
  26. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 737-4D7 HS-TDC Bangkok International Airport (BKK)". Retrieved 2011-03-20. 
  27. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 737-566 SU-GBI Tunis-Carthage Airport (TUN)". Retrieved 2011-03-20. 
  28. ^ "Engineer sucked into engine aftermath". Live Journal. Retrieved January 27, 2012. 
  29. ^ BBC News Cargo plane crash pilots sacked
  30. ^ "Боинг-737-500 VP-BKO 14.09.2008." Interstate Aviation Committee. Retrieved on 19 February 2009.
  31. ^ "737 Bursts into Flames, All Survive". NPR. Retrieved 2008-12-21. 
  32. ^ "Recent accidents / incidents worldwide". JACDEC. Retrieved 17 January 2010. 
  33. ^ Hradecky, Simon. "Accident: Merpati B733 at Manokwari on Apr 13th 2010, overran runway and broke up in river". Aviation Herald. Retrieved 13 April 2010. 
  34. ^ Hradecky, Simon. "Accident: Lion Air B734 at Pontianak on Nov 2nd 2010, overran runway on landing". Aviation Herald. Retrieved 2 November 2010. 
  35. ^ "Six-foot hole opens in 737 during flight". King5 News. Retrieved April 2, 2011. 
  36. ^ "'Dozens dead' in Russian plane crash". BBC (BBC). 2013-11-17. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  37. ^ Accident description for VQ-BBN at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 17 November 2013.
  38. ^ shaw, 1999, p 20.
  39. ^ "Boeing 737 Description" (PDF). Boeing. Retrieved 2011-03-20. 
  40. ^ FAA Type Certificate Data Sheet$FILE/A16WE_Rev_53.pdf
  41. ^ "Commercial Airplanes - 737 - Technical Information". Boeing. Retrieved 2011-03-20. 
  42. ^ "Commercial Airplanes - 737 Airplane Characteristics for Airport Planning". Boeing. Retrieved 2011-03-20. 

External links