Boeing 737-100 / 737-200
The Boeing 737 is originally designed as a small, short-range jet airliner, in its earliest models seating around 100 passengers. In all its versions the "Boeing Baby" is now the best-selling jet airliner ever, with more than 12,500 sold, although the A320, which had a later start, is closing the gap. The first 737-versions were the 737-100 and 737-200.
Boeing started designing a jetliner for short ranges, smaller than the 727, in 1964. Originally a 60 to 85 seater aircraft appeared on the drawing boards, but launch customer Lufthansa wanted something bigger, with 100 seats. Boeing adapted the design and the German airline ordered 21 aircraft on 19 February 1965. One and a half month later, on 5 April 1965, United ordered 40 737s of an even larger version, the 737-200.
The Boeing 737 had a late start compared with competitors like the Douglas DC-9 and BAC One-Eleven. The 737 was the only aircraft in this category having its two engines under the wing. This helped reducing the length of the undercarriage and gave easy access for inspection and repair. Boeing chose the Pratt & Whitney JT8D-1 turbofan as power source for the aircraft, the same engine of which the bigger 727 had three. Because of the wing-mounted engines, a T-tail, like on the 727, was not necessary to keep the horizontal tailplane out of the exhaust stream of the engines.
To tempt 727 customers to buy the 737 as well, Boeing used as many structural parts and systems also used in the 727. The aircraft types have about 60 per cent parts and systems in common. The fuselage cross section, for example, is identical, allowing six-abreast seating (compared with five-abreast in the DC-9, One-Eleven and Fokker F28 Fellowship).
The 737-100 made its maiden flight on 9 April 1967 and entered service in February 1968 with Lufthansa. Only 30 aircraft of this version were built and production ended already in October 1969. But at that time the 737-200 had already become the standard production version. The 737-200 first flew on 8 August 1967, only four months later than the 737-100. In December of the same year United Airlines became the first operator.
Variants of the 737-200 are the 737-200C (Convertible) and 737-200QC (Quick Change). The final version was the Advanced 737-200, which started flying in 1971. It was aerodynamically more refined and it had a revised flap system for improved short-field performance. This system was made available for earlier aircraft as well. It also offered the airlines better payload capability and range. For use at airports with unpaved runways the 737-200 had the option of a 'gravel kit' to protect the engines against debris. The kit is still used on aircraft operating in Alaska, Canada and Africa.
Boeing built the 737-200 until 1988, when it was succeeded on the final assembly by the 737-300. 1,114 737-200s have been built. The final 737-200 was delivered to the Chinese carrier Xiamen Airlines in August 1988. A number of passenger aircraft have been converted to cargo planes. To comply with Stage 3 noise regulations, many 737 have been fitted with hushkits. The USAF ordered 19 737-200s as navigation trainers and later converted them into standard transport aircraft, designated 'CT-43A'. Some other air forces ordered 737s as well.
Early in 2015, around one hundred 737-200s are still in airline service. The 737-100 has already disappeared from the skies for many years.
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