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Boeing 737 MAX series

Boeing 737: Original, Classic, NG and Max – What’s the Difference?

The 737 has a great Boeing success story. In fact, it was the best-selling commercial aircraft to date. In production for more than 50 years, it has been constantly modified and updated by many variants – part of its success story. This article takes a look at the main differences between each of the 737 family – the original, classic, next generation, and max.

The Boeing 737 MAX Series is the latest to join the long-running family. Photo: Boeing

A long and successful history

The Boeing 737 was introduced in 1967 and has been in flight, and has been in production ever since. So far, 10,575 (according to Data from Boeing As of February 2020), 15,115 have been ordered. This makes it the best-selling aircraft to date, but the Airbus A320 has now received orders.

Part of this success was its good engineering design and continuous evolution to meet the requirements of airlines. In the 1960s, the first 737 was built to beat the competition of the time (mainly Douglas DC-9, but also BAC One Eleven and Sud Aviation’s Caravelle). As the 737 has moved through its various variants, these improvements have persisted and kept it being the best option for many airlines.

So, what are the main differences for each series?

Pan am 707
Boeing has had a lot of success with the 707, and the 737 benefits a lot from this. Photo: via Wikimedia

737 original – 737-100 and 200

In fact, one of the main features of the first 737s were two engines. This was a major driver of development for the 737. The two previous Boeing aircraft, the 707 and the 727, have been very successful. But market interest has shifted to the possibility of two more economical engines.

Boeing beat the competition by placing two 737 engines under the wing, as opposed to the engine mounted in the rear of the fuselage. Crucially, this allowed for a larger body of the aircraft, which gave the 737 additional passenger capacity (six cross versus five), and allowed the loading of standard cargo containers. The simple diversion to use freight was popular with many airlines.

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Boeing 737-100
The Boeing 737-100 first entered service in 1967. Photo: Boeing

Only 60 737-100s were sold, and they were soon upgraded with the 737-200. This provided an extended fuselage for the aircraft, initially ordered by United Airlines, and proved popular (with sales of 1,095). There was also an advanced version, with improved aerodynamics, more powerful engines, higher fuel capacity and a higher range.

Other adjustments have been made to suit the request of the airlines. This included a Combi version for easy switching to charging use, saving ‘Unpaved strip kit‘To allow landings on gravel runways.

737-200 with an unpaved tape kit
Boeing’s Unpaved Strip Kit was provided for the 737-100 / 200 aircraft only. Photo: Biggerben via Wikimedia

737 Classic – 737-300, 400, and 500

The “Classic” series began production with the 737-300 in 1984. The goal was to bring about a shift focused on increasing capacity and improving fuel efficiency. The family will be modified while maintaining commonalities (in both design and flight operation) with previous models.

The main difference was the addition of new engines. The 737-300 uses CFM56 turbofan engines. This increased thrust (up to 23,500 pounds compared to 16,400 pounds per second for Pratt & Whitney engines on the 737-200), but it did lead to some design challenges. The 737’s larger engine diameter and lower ground clearance meant it was placed ahead of the wing.

737-300 southwest
The 737-300 was the bestseller in the original and classic series. Photo: Dylan Ashe via Wikimedia

The 737-300 displayed a slight increase in capacity (to a maximum of 149 compared to 136 for the 737-200), from the extension of the fuselage around the wing. Other structural improvements included:

  • An increase in wing length and extension of the limbs, which leads to improved aerodynamics
  • Resdesign from the tail
  • Numerous cabin enhancements (based on enhanced features of the Boeing 757)
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The 737-400 continued this expansion. Extending the 737-300 to about three meters increased capacity to 188. In contrast, the 737-500 was a smaller model. This reverted back to the size and capacity of the 737-200, but introduced improvements in the design and efficiency of the Classic Series.

The Bahamas, 737-500
The last member of the classic series, the 737-500, offered a direct replacement for the old 737-200. Photo: BriYYZ via Wikimedia Commons

The Next Generation 737 – 737-600, 700, 800 and 900 aircraft

Next Generation (NG) series launched in 1993 (first flight in 1997). This was mainly to address the increasing competition from the Airbus A320 family, and the rise in fuel prices at the time.

The series introduced many improvements over the classic aircraft, including better fuel efficiency, extended range, and larger capacity variants (up to 215 passengers). The changes to the aircraft included:

  • CFM56-7 series engines are upgraded, with improved fuel efficiency
  • Redesigned wing, with more space and space (and allows for increased fuel capacity)
  • Enhanced digital cockpit
  • Interior improvements, including more container space (with many updates based on 777 designs)
737NG interior
The modified interior of the 737NG. Photo: Boeing

The 737-600 is the smallest in the family, and it seats 149 passengers. The 737-700 extends approximately 2.4 meters and also offers the convertible charging option, the 737-700C.

The 737-800 has been extended beyond the 737-700, making it a good alternative to the 737-400. The car accommodates up to 189 passengers. This has been increased further on the longer model – the 737-900ER, with capacity up to 220 (the 737-900 is limited to 189 since there is only one set of exit doors).

The 737-800 became Boeing’s best-selling 737. Flying is simple I looked in detail at thisAnd a discussion of how the settlement made her such a success. It offers an excellent combination of range and capacity, not the largest, but a versatile option for many airlines.

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American Airlines 737-800 aircraft
The 737-800 has been extremely successful as a great all-round performer. Photo: Getty Images

Series 737 Max

The fourth generation of the 737 family was launched in 2011. The 737 MAX series competes with the A320neo family (Launched in 2010), it focuses again on improving efficiency.

It uses new, more efficient CFM International LEAP engines, and includes many aerodynamic modifications, including distinctive wings.

Like the NG series, there are four MAX variants with different sizes. These generally provide greater passenger capacity and range than natural gas alternatives. Simple Flying takes a closer look at these differences in Previous article.

737 Max
737 MAX with LEAP engines and ailerons. Photo: Getty Images.

Of course, the 737 Max suffered from Grounding In 2019 after two accidents. However, it has proven popular, with 4,741 requests (based on Wikipedia Order data).

This indicates its popularity and appeal to airlines well. Only since 2011 has it already roughly matched 737-800 orders (this has been on sale since 1993). If Boeing can overcome the problems, the 737 MAX could be a huge success.

737 following?

While the MAX series problems and flight slowdown in 2020 could change plans for new aircraft, Boeing has already done so. Plans for a new plane. This was initially planned by 2030.

It is likely a composite airframe construction, providing a lightweight and fuel-efficient construction. Possible modifications also include an inclined cross section that provides a wider cabin with the possibility of having two lanes. The cabin enlargement was the reason that put the 737 Original topping it, so it will be interesting to see if this ever happens again.[iticalcross-sectionofferingawidercabinwiththepossibilityoftwoaislesWideningthecabinwashowthe737Originalgotitsleadsoitwillbeinterestingtofwhetherthishappollowensagain[iticalcross-sectionofferingawidercabinwiththepossibilityoftwoaislesWideningthecabinwashowthe737Originalgotitsleadsoitwillbeinterestingtofollowwhetherthishappensagain