Best-selling aircraft of all time may not be # 1 any longer
It didn’t start out as a winner and its maker considered canceling it. However, it has risen to the rank of the world’s best-selling commercial aircraft of all time, a workhorse for airlines and the millions of people who travel with it every day.
The small jet which could be, of course, the Boeing Co. 737 BA,
. Anyone who’s spent time at an airport in the past 20 years will at least have seen it, although its main competitor is nipping at its heels.
“If you are looking for the winner, the answer is clear,” said aviation consultant George Hamlin.
In recent years, however, the Airbus 320, also a single-aisle twin-engine aircraft, has gained ground over the 737.
According to Boeing, the company took orders for 13,298 of the 737s, with the first orders in 1965, and has delivered nearly 9,000 of those orders.
Meanwhile, Boeing has delivered just 1,500 of the iconic 747 jets since 1970 and currently plans to manufacture just six 747s per year from September. Boeing has said in a regulatory filing it may stop production of the 747, which has made global air travel more affordable for most people, but which has suffered from years of low sales.
You might call the success of the 737 a matter of being in the right place at the right time.
The 737 has been in continuous production for 50 years and benefited from airline deregulation in the United States in the late 1970s and the industry boom of the 1980s that followed.
The plane didn’t start life as a favorite. Design and production got off to a slow start and “Boeing actually thought about canceling it,” Hamlin said.
When the aircraft finally made its debut, some of its short-haul competitors, such as the McDonnell Douglas DC-9, had already been on the market for a few years. The 737 even had internal competition: The Boeing 727, in production between 1962 and 1984, covered the small aircraft market for regional airlines, Hamlin said.
Before deregulation, airlines were supervised much like public services still are today. After deregulation, traditional carriers grew to meet increased demand and competition from regional airlines, which also grew larger as they were able to serve more routes, helping to create a booming market for aircraft. .
Most importantly, the 737 could hold more seats than its predecessors, thanks in part to a little technical imagination. Boeing placed the aircraft’s twin engines under the wings, not through the tail of the aircraft like older models. The under-wing engines also gave the aircraft an edge over mechanics and airport logistics staff, as they made engine maintenance at eye level and easier to reach.
The aircraft was one of the first that could be flown by two pilots rather than two pilots and a flight engineer (although some airlines have flown 737s with three crew members due to manpower issues. work in the early years of the plane). rivals of the time also contributed to its advance in the years that followed.
The passenger capacity of the 737 is “a sweet spot” for many flight destinations, aviation consultant Robert Mann said: not so small that an airline’s cost per seat is too high, and not too large for it. that the airline is struggling to fill all the seats.
The vast majority of U.S. flights (around 80%) are less than four hours, and most European flights are around three hours, which the 737 can easily handle, he said. The aircraft also handles longer-haul flights, but for these longer flights, in general, airlines prefer to use twin-aisle widebody jets so that they can offer different services.
Despite all the charm and flexibility of the 737, a worthy rival has emerged. Boeing’s European competitor, Airbus Group AIR,
launched the A320 in 1988 and has since booked 12,463 orders and delivered nearly 7,000 A320 Family aircraft.
For most of the years over the past decade, more Airbus 320s have been sold than 737s, and the two planes will continue to compete for the lead for the foreseeable future.
Airbus has been more aggressive in bringing its planes to the market and has also been more aggressive in bringing them to market. It has attracted customers among expanding airlines in emerging markets, Mann said.
Planespotting: Boeing 737 vs Airbus 320
For travelers, this battle of planes can go unnoticed, not least because it can be difficult to distinguish between the two types of planes. But they have a few key differences:
Engine: Start by looking at the number of motors, and where they are positioned. Both planes have twin engines and these engines are located under the wings. The engine inlet on the 737, however, is not a perfect round shape, but rather a fish mouth shape that many in the industry refer to as a “hamster pouch.” The A320’s engine is rounder.
Nose: Your next job is to look at the nose of the plane. Airbus planes, in general, have a shorter nose, while Boeing’s nose is pointed.
Caudal fin: See how the tail fin has a curved edge down where it descends to meet the fuselage? It’s a Boeing. On an Airbus, this slope is not there.
Airline checklist: Alaska Airlines ALK,
, Southwest Airlines LUV,
and the Irish Ryanair RY4C,
use only Boeing 737 aircraft. Virgin America United States: VA
and easyJet EZJ,
exclusively use A320s, and JetBlue primarily uses A320s. United Airlines UAL,
and American Airlines AAL,
fly both, but mostly Delta Air Line 737. DALs,
the fleet of narrow-body aircraft is roughly evenly split between the A320 and the 737.
narrow-body planes will likely be A320s and Aeromexico’s AEROMEX,
narrow-body planes are mainly 737s (both companies also use narrow-body planes from Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer SA ERJ,