On Wednesday April 16th, United took delivery of its latest 737, but this one was special.
A 737-900ER was delivered from Boeing Field, marking a special occasion for not only Boeing but also United. The aircraft was the 8,000th 737 to roll out of the Renton factory, and became one of over 550 of the type to be delivered to United since its inception.
Since the first flight of the 737-series on April 9th, 1967, this latest aircraft marks a new milestone in a very long history. The first US airline to take delivery of the 737 was United, and it is a fitting tribute that they took delivery of the latest and most current version of the aircraft.
The 737-900ER, which can accommodate up to 179 passengers (in the two-class configuration United uses) is a far cry from the original 737-200, which could only hold 109!
“We’re thrilled to celebrate this huge achievement with Boeing,” said Ron Baur, vice president of fleet, United Airlines. “The 737 has been an integral part of our narrowbody fleet and we are pleased to continue this tradition by being the North American launch customer for the new 737 MAX 9.”
It should be noted that, for a while, it looked like United had moved past the 737; in 2009 they actually flew their “last” 737 flight, retiring their 737 “classic” fleet in lieu of the narrow-body offerings from Airbus. It wasn’t until the merger with Continental (which was a big 737 Next Gen operator) that United got back in to the game.
Over the years, Boeing has produced endless numbers of 737s out of the tiny factory in the Seattle suburb of Renton. The 737 has has evolved from just a workhorse into an aviation powerhouse.
Holding the title of the world’s best selling aircraft, there are now almost as many 737s as all of the aircraft Airbus has produced. Yep that is right, Airbus just topped over 8,000 total aircraft last August, and as 39 aircraft a month roll out of the Renton factory, the 737 should outstrip that mark very soon!
Even though this was aircraft number 8,000 to roll out of the factory, there are still another 3,700 planes on order. With the new 737 MAX due to fly in 2016, there will be many more 737s to come in the future. With the rate the 737 is going, it is likely that the model could be flying 100 years after its first flight — now that is an accomplishment.