In an attempt to keep up with Airbus, Boeing, through a host of bad marketing as well as engineering decisions, gave birth to the 737 Max series of aircraft. Part 5 of this on-going series of articles describes the origin of the 737. We will discuss the 737 lines of aircraft and its basic design evolution, leading up to the flawed 737 Max series of aircraft.
Origin of the 737
The Boeing 737 is best described as a narrow-body single isle short-haul airliner. It was specifically designed to help supplement the 727 in the expanding short-haul airline market.
The most important aspect involved in the aircraft design process lies in aircraft conceptualization. This includes these following elements:
- Design constraints
- Aircraft Regulations
- Financial Influence
- Environmental Constraints
- Overall Safety
The goals stated within these constraints are achieved through these specific design requirements involving the actual aircraft. These decisions requirements involve the following:
- Wing Design
- Airframe Structure
Other factors that strongly influences the conceptualization process in aircraft design are:
- Preliminary Design Process
- Detailed Design Process
- Aircraft computer-aided and Mock-up Concept
737 design proposals
This lengthy design/vetting process leads to several design proposals. The first concept/conceptualization of the 737 was introduced in 1964 by Boeing engineer Joe Sutter. This novel design featured two padded turbofans in separate nacelles, located in the upper rear portion of the fuselage. This allowed the use of a T-tail, inviting concern from Mr. Sutter regarding excessive weight.
He decided to locate both engines directly below the wings, providing the expansion of the fuselage width to accommodate six abroad seating.
The engines were strategically attached directly to the wings, keeping them closer to the ground in order to shorten the landing gear, further facilitating ease of ground inspection and maintenance of the engines as well as other aircraft maintenance issues.
This decision, however, led to a host of other minor concerns involving the new aircraft’s high lift devices and their maintenance costs. This was resolved by directly moving the engines closer to the underside of the wing using the engine pylon only as a filer, or fillet, reducing aerodynamic drag, especially at the attachment point.
However, this decision would eventually lead to Boeing’s inability to utilize these newest turbofan engines resulting in the Boeing 737-Max line of aircraft and its impending engineering disaster.
The 737 then took on a more conventional look utilizing the same wing planform (shape) used in the 707 and 727. This newly designed 737 sported a conventional horizontal stabilizer (with elevator) and vertical tail.
Powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney JT8D-1 low bypass ratio turbofan engines delivered 14, 500 lb. f/engine, ensuring abundant thrust for proper operation.
On October 16, 1966, the design was finalized by a patent filed on June 22, 1965, by Boeing engineers John Steiner and Joe Sutter.
First Generation, the origin of the 737
The original 737 involved the -100 and -200 models. These models are referred to as the “First Generation.”
The first dash 100 airframe was rolled out on January 17, 1967, and took to flight on April 9, 1967. It entered service with Lufthansa in February 1968.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued type Certificate A 16 WE officially certifying the 737-100 for commercial use. This took place on December 15, 1967. Only thirty airframes were produced leading into the next variation, named the 737-200.
Next evolution of the 737: The -200 model
The dash 200 was essentially a stretched version of the original aircraft. This also involved improved aerodynamic engine upgrades, fuel capacity, longer range, and payload capacity. The FAA-certified this version on December 21, 1967. The certification was immediately followed by its inaugural flight for United Airlines on April 28, 1968.
The 737-100 and the 737-200 marked the origin of the 737. The airplane proved to be a big success. Further development to subsequent models of the plane will be discussed in the next article, leading up to the B737 Max.
Featured image: Boeing 737-100 (N73700) on its maiden flight on April 9, 1967. Photo: Wikipedia.
- Wikipedia: The Boeing 737
- Boeing.com: The 737 Family of Aircraft
Story: ©2020 Thomas E. Gardner. Renowned Aviation Journalist & Author Thomas E. Gardner has spent months on his investigative report. The author has based his story on facts that he has learned in regard to the 737 Max-8 engineering disaster during his in-depth investigation process of the article.
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