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Boeing 737-300


Boeing 737-300

For other variants of this aircraft, see Boeing 737, Boeing 737 Next Generation, and Boeing 737 MAX.
Boeing 737 Classic
Boeing 737-300/-400/-500
British Airways 737-400
Role Airliner
Manufacturer Boeing Commercial Airplanes
First flight February 24, 1984
Introduction November 28, 1984 with USAir
Status in service
Produced 1981–2000[1]
Number built 1,988[1]
Developed from Boeing 737
Variants Boeing 737 Next Generation

The Boeing 737 Classic is the -300/-400/-500 series of the Boeing 737, so named following the introduction of the -600/-700/-800/-900 series. They are short- to medium- range, narrow-body jet airliners produced by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. The Classic series was introduced as the 'new generation' of the 737.[2] Produced from 1984 to 2000, 1,988 aircraft were delivered.

Development and design

Following 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, yielding significant gains in fuel economy and a reduction in noise, but also posing 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 inches (23 cm). The leading-edge slats 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 is now replaced by the 737-700 in the Boeing 737 Next Generation family.


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.[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. The Boeing 737-400 never included winglets as an option just like the Boeing 737-600. Alaska Airlines was the first to convert one of their 400s from regular service to an aircraft with the ability to handle 10 pallets.[9] 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.[10] The 737-400 is now 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.[11] Using the CFM56-3 engine also gave a 25% increase in fuel efficiency over the older -200s P&W engines.[11]

The 737-500 was launched in 1987, by Southwest Airlines, with an order for 20 aircraft,[12] and flew for the first time on 30 June 1989.[11] A single prototype flew 375 hours for the certification process,[11] 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. Aerolíneas Argentinas is replacing its 737-200s with second-hand 737-500s. The 737-500 is now 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.



As of July 2010, 1,651 Boeing 737 Classic aircraft were in commercial service. This includes 879 -300s, 419 -400s, and 353 -500s.[13]


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


Type Total 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996 1995 1994 1993 1992 1991 1990 1989 1988 1987 1986 1985 1984
737-300 1113 29 52 65 37 52 54 54 57 69 67 89 141 137 120 83 7
737-400 486 2 9 33 33 21 13 32 68 82 56 63 57 17
737-500 389 4 31 34 18 24 35 30 79 90 44
Total 1988 2 42 116 132 76 89 121 152 218 215 174 146 158 137 120 83 7

Accidents and incidents

The Boeing 737 Classic were involved in 26 Hull-loss Accidents with a total of 1,040 fatalities as of January 2010.[15] Notable accidents and incidents involving the 737 Classics (-300/-400/-500) include:

  • May 24, 1988: TACA Flight 110, en route to New Orleans suffered double engine failure due to a severe hail storm. The pilot conducted a successful forced landing on a grass levee with no injuries. The aircraft was repaired and returned to service. As a result of this incident further engine development was carried out to prevent flame-out in severe weather conditions.
  • January 8, 1989: Kegworth air disaster: British Midland Flight 92, using a 737-400, crashed outside of East Midlands Airport. Of the eight crew and 118 passengers, 47 passengers died. The left engine had suffered a fan blade fracture and the crew, unfamiliar with the 737-400, shut down the still-functional right engine, causing the aircraft to lose power.
  • February 1, 1991: USAir Flight 1493, using a 737-300, collided with a SkyWest Airlines Fairchild Metro III while landing in Los Angeles. All of the 12 people on the Fairchild Metro died while 20 passengers and 2 crew members out of 6 crew members and 83 passengers died on the 737.
  • July 26, 1993: Asiana Airlines Flight 733, using a 737-500, crashed into a mountain, killing 68 of 110 occupants.
  • September 8, 1994: USAir Flight 427, using a 737-300 with 127 passengers and 5 crew members, lost control after a rudder malfunction and crashed outside of Pittsburgh International Airport, killing everyone on board.
  • May 8, 1997: China Southern Airlines Flight 3456, using a 737-300, crashed while landing in Shenzhen, killing 33 of 65 passengers and 2 of 9 crew members.
  • December 19, 1997: SilkAir Flight 185, using a 737-300 with 97 passengers and 7 crew members, crashed into a river in Indonesia, killing everyone on board, after the pilot intentionally dove the plane into the ground.
  • September 16, 1998: Continental Airlines Flight 475, using a 737-500, received windshear while landing in Guadalajara, Mexico. None of the passengers and crew received injuries. The aircraft was written off.[16]
  • April 7, 1999: Turkish Airlines Flight 5904, using a 737-400 with six crew members, crashed in Turkey. All of the crew on board died; no passengers flew on that flight.
  • March 5, 2000: Southwest Airlines Flight 1455, using a 737-300, overran the runway upon landing in Burbank, California, United States and crashed. All of the passengers and crew survived.
  • March 3, 2001: Thai Airways International Flight 114, a 737-400 bound for Chiang Mai from Bangkok, was destroyed by an explosion of the center wing tank resulting from ignition of the flammable fuel/air mixture in the tank. The source of the ignition energy for the explosion could not be determined with certainty, but the most likely source was an explosion originating at the center wing tank pump as a result of running the pump in the presence of metal shavings and a fuel/air mixture.[17] One flight attendant died.[18]
  • May 7, 2002: EgyptAir Flight 843, using a 737-500, crashed during approach to Tunis, Tunisia. 3 of 6 crew members and 11 of 56 passengers died.[19]
  • January 3, 2004: Flash Airlines Flight 604, using a 737-300 with 135 passengers and 13 crew members, crashed into the Red Sea, killing everyone on board.
  • June 9, 2005: 2005 Logan Airport runway incursion – A 737-300 operated by US Airways as US Airways Flight 1170 avoided collision with an Aer Lingus Airbus A330 at Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, United States.
  • August 14, 2005: Helios Airways Flight 522, using a 737-300, suffered a gradual decompression which incapacitated 5 of the 6 crew members and all of the 115 passengers. The plane circled around Greece before crashing into a hill, killing everyone on board.
  • January 23, 2006: A Continental Airlines Boeing 737-500 was preparing for a flight to Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston from El Paso International Airport, when a maintenance-related engine run-up of the right-hand engine was carried out, sucking in and fatally injuring a mechanic.[20]
  • October 3, 2006: A man hijacked Turkish Airlines Flight 1476, Boeing 737-400. The aircraft landed in Italy and all of the passengers and crew survived.
  • January 1, 2007: Adam Air Flight 574, using a 737-400 with 96 passengers and six crew members, crashed off the coast of Sulawesi. the occupants were never found, and were presumed dead.


Measurement 737-300[3][27] 737-400 737-500
Cockpit crew Two
Seating capacity[28] 149 (1-class, dense)
140 (1-class, typical)
128 (2-class, typical)
168 (1-class, dense)
159 (1-class, typical)
146 (2-class, typical)
132 (1-class, dense)
122 (1-class, typical)
108 (2-class, typical)
Seat pitch 30 in (76 cm) (1-class, dense)
32 in (81 cm) (1-class, typical)
36 in (91 cm) & 32 in (81 cm) (2-class, typical)
Seat width 17.2 in (44 cm) (1-class, 6 abreast seating)
Overall length 33.4 m
(109 ft 7 in)
36.5 m
(119 ft 6 in)
31.1 m
(101 ft 8 in)
Wingspan 28.9 m
(94 ft 9 in)
Overall height 11.13 m
(36 ft 6 in)
11.1 m
(36 ft 5 in)
Wing sweepback 25°
Aspect ratio 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)
Operating empty weight, typical 32,700 kg
(72,100 lb)
33,200 kg
(73,040 lb)
31,300 kg
(68,860 lb)
Maximum Takeoff 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 field length (MTOW, SL, ISA) 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) 0.74
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)
Maximum 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) CFM56-3B-1 CFM56-3B-2 CFM56-3B-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) 1,950 kg (4,301 lb)
Engine ground clearance 46 cm (18 in)

Sources: Boeing[29][30]

See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

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. 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 1-85532-528-4.

External links

  • 737 page on
  • Celebrating the 5000th 737 on
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