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Boeing 737 Classic
British Airways 737-400.
Role Airliner
Manufacturer Boeing Commercial Airplanes
First flight February 24, 1984
Introduction November 28, 1984 with USAir
Status Active
Produced 1981 - 2000[1]
Number built 1,998[1]
Developed from Boeing 737
Variants Boeing 737 Next Generation

The Boeing 737 Classic is the name given to the -300/-400/-500 series of the Boeing 737 after the introduction of the -600/700/800/900 series. They are American short to medium range, single aisle, narrow body jet airliners. The Classic series was introduced as the 'new generation' of the 737.[2] Produced from 1984 to 2000, 1,988 aircraft were delivered. As of January 1, 2001, 1,945 remain in service.[1]


Development and design

After 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, which yielded significant gains in fuel economy and a reduction in noise, but also posed 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 9 in (23 cm). The leading-edge slots 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 24 February 1984.[5] After it received its flight certification on November 14, 1984, USAir received the first aircraft on 28 November.[1] A very popular aircraft, Boeing received 252 orders for it in 1985, and over 1000 throughout its production.[6] The 300 series remained in production until 1999 when the last aircraft was delivered to Air New Zealand on 17 December 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, in order 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 was replaced by the 737-700 in the Boeing 737 Next Generation family.


Transaero 737-400 in planform view at takeoff
A 737-400 of the now defunct Centralwings airline

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. The airplane was also upgraded to a full glass cockpit as standard equipment.[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 converted 737-400 to an all cargo aircraft. Alaska Airlines was the first to convert one of their 400s from regular service to an aircraft with the ability to handle 10 pallets. [1] 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.

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.[9] Using the CFM56-3 engine also gave a 25% increase in fuel efficiency over the older -200s P&W engines.[9]

The 737-500 was launched in 1987 by Southwest Airlines, with an order for 20 aircraft,[10] and flew for the first time on 30 June 1989.[9] A single prototype flew 375 hours for the certification process,[9] 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. Also, Aerolineas Argentinas is replacing their 737-200's with second-hand 737-500's.

The 737-500 was 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.


A Qantas Boeing 737-300
Cockpit of a 737-300
All-economy cabin interior of a 737-300 operated by Norwegian Air Shuttle



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

Accidents and incidents

The Boeing 737 Classic were involved into 26 Hull-loss Accidents with a total of 1050 fatalities as of January 2010.[11] Notable accidents and incidents involving the 737 Classics (-300/-400/-500) include:


Measurement 737-300[3][18] 737-400 737-500
Cockpit Crew Two
Seating capacity 149 (1-class, dense),
128 (1-class, standard)
168 (1-class, dense),
159 (1-class, standard)
123 (1-class, dense),
108 (1-class, standard))
Seat Pitch 31" 30" (1-class, dense), 32" (1-class, standard)
Seat width 17.2" (1-class, 6 abreast seating)
Airplane Length 33.4 m
(109 ft 7 in)
36.5 m
(119 ft 6 in)
31.1 m
(101 ft 8 in)
Wingspan 28.88 m
(94 ft 8 in)
28.9 m
(94 ft 9 in)
Airplane Height 11.13 m
(36 ft 6 in)
11.1 m
(36 ft 5 in)
Wing Sweepback 25°
Aspect Ratio 9.11 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)
Weight Empty 32,700 kg
(72,100 lb)
33,200 kg
(73,040 lb)
31,300 kg
(68,860 lb)
Maximum take-off 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 run at MTOW 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) 0.745 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)
Max. 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) 56-3B-1 56-3B-2 56-3B-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) 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) 2,409.5 kg (4,301 lb)
Engine Ground Clearance 46 cm (18 in)


See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Related lists


  • Endres, Günter. The Illustrated Directory of Modern Commercial Aircraft. Osceola, Wisconsin: MBI Publishing Company, 2001. ISBN 0-7603-1125-0.
  • Sharpe, Michael and Shaw, Robbie. Boeing 737-100 and 200. Osceola, Wisconsin: MBI Publishing Company, 2001. ISBN 0-7603-0991-4.
  • Shaw, Robbie. Boeing 737-300 to 800]. Osceola, Wisconsin: MBI Publishing Company, 1999. ISBN 0-7603-0699-0.
  • Shaw, Robbie. Boeing Jetliners. London, England: Osprey, 1995. ISBN 1-8553-2528-4.

External links


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