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BOEING DELIVERS 2,500TH 737 AIRLINER

 SEATTLE, July 13 /PRNewswire/ -- The 2,500th Boeing 737 was delivered here today in a brief ceremony, according to Boeing Commercial Airplane Group. It is the first time in aviation history such a number has been achieved by a commercial airliner.
 The milestone 737 went to Southwest Airlines, the highly successful Dallas-based carrier that has standardized on the 737 as its only airplane type. The -300 model, seating 137 passengers in Southwest's single-class layout, is the 152nd 737 in that airline's fleet.
 All told, 219 operators based in every part of the globe use the 737. The airplane has flown from gravel and dirt runways, landed on grass fields and has even served above the Arctic Circle on a runway carved from thick winter ice. Since early models entered service in 1968, the fleet has carried more than four billion passengers and flown 20 billion miles (3,220 million km).
 Of the 2,500 deliveries, 1,470 (59 percent) went to non-U.S. airlines and 1,030 to U.S.-based carriers. Evidence of the 737's continuing acceptance by new and existing customers is the number of firm orders yet to be delivered: 559 aircraft. Present production rate at Boeing Commercial Airplane Group's Renton, Wash., plant is 14 airplanes a month -- highest in the industry.
 While current production versions -- the 737-300, -400 (146 seats) and -500 (108 seats) -- are advanced technically compared to the first versions of the aircraft, all 737s share common attributes: operational reliability, rugged construction, fuel efficiency and a flight deck designed for two-pilot operation.
 The dependability built into the 737 is reflected in industry statistics: The worldwide 737-300/400/500 fleet has a dispatch reliability average of 99.2 percent, highest of all commercial airplanes. This means that less than one departure in 100 is delayed more than 15 minutes for mechanical reasons.
 Today's historic delivery was especially ironic for an airplane some had predicted would never sell in sufficient numbers to pay its development costs. To the contrary, more than a third of all commercial airliners built by Boeing in the jet age have been 737s.
 Launched in early 1965 to offer a small jet airliner to replace slow and noisy turboprops, the 737 started out strongly but foundered in the recession at decade's end. In the four years 1969 through 1972 Boeing recorded 114 total orders -- by which time the program was eight years old. Early marketing studies had forecast that 500 to 700 would be sold, but even that modest target seemed out of reach. Company executives discussed whether the firm could afford to continue the risky venture. But the airplane gained support as time went by and it proved to be clearly better than competing types.
 While it took 17 years for the 737 family to reach 1,000 deliveries, the next 1,000 came in less than half that time. The 2,500 mark has taken 25 1/2 years; its nearest competitor, the DCD9/MD80 twinjet, has reached 2,040 deliveries in 27 years. Boeing built 1,832 of a previous champion, the 727 trijet, before production ended in 1984.
 First 737-100 delivery was to launch customer Lufthansa on Dec. 28, 1967. A stretched-fuselage version, the -200, followed closely, entering service with United Airlines in April 1968. A total of 1,144 of these two models were built over two decades. Meanwhile, Boeing had switched to the updated 737-300 with a launch order from Southwest in March 1981.
 The -300 featured a newly designed passenger interior, advanced wide-fan engines from CFMI (owned by General Electric of the United States and SNECMA of France), a digital flight deck, and changes to the wing for even more efficient fuel burn. The longer-fuselage -400 introduced in 1988 and the smaller -500 of 1990 share these new features and boast a "common type rating" for flight crews -- meaning pilots can fly any of the 737s for maximum flexibility in crew scheduling and good match of aircraft size to different routes on a daily basis.
 Another cost savings resulting from the airplanes' systems commonality is a greatly reduced need for airline inventory of spare parts and replaceable items. The three models have 95 percent common airframe spares.
 What will succeed this popular jetliner? Boeing has been talking to a number of airlines about an advanced derivative called the 737-X. Two weeks ago the company announced Board of Directors' approval to offer this new family in three sizes. Should sufficient orders be obtained for a launch, it is not unreasonable to expect the 737 legacy to extend over another two decades and more.
 By model, the delivery breakdown is as follows:
 737-100 30
 737-200 1114
 737-300 805
 737-400 316
 737-500 235
 -----
 2,500
 -0- 7/13/93
 /CONTACT: John Wheeler of Boeing Commercial Airline Group, 206-234-9334/
 (BA)


CO: Boeing Commercial Airplane Group ST: Washington IN: AIR SU:

SB -- SE001 -- 0874 07/13/93 12:00 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 13, 1993
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