Dutch airline KLM is due to take delivery of the final ever Boeing 737 NG aircraft. Delivery of the aircraft, registered PH-BCL, is due to take place before the end of this year.
The end of an era is approaching. The final ever Boeing 737-800 is due to be delivered to KLM before the end of this year. This is the final 737 NG aircraft to be delivered. The aircraft was due for delivery earlier this year but the hull had been tapped incorrectly and had to be exchanged by the supplier, Spirit Aerosystems.
This will mean that KLM has a total of 31 737-800s as well as 16 737-700s and 5 737-900s. It has not yet placed an order for any of the new 737 MAX and with the recent announcement that Boeing has suspended production of the MAX, it doesn’t look likely that an order will be placed.
The new aircraft has been named, as per KLM tradition, after a bird. The aircraft’s new livery features the name “Krooneend/ Crown Duck”. It also features the ultra-thin Recaro seats and a redesigned interior.
The 737 NG
The Boeing 737s are a crucial part of aviation history. They have been flying people around the world since 1968. The NGs entered service in 1997 and the history of the aircraft is interlinked with arguably the greatest aviation manufacture rivalry in history; the 737s from Boeing versus the A320 from Airbus. The first 737s had faced competition since its inception. Then, in 1988, Airbus launched its A320 family and so a historic battle was born.
The A320 forced Boeing to revaluate the 737s. The NG program arrived in 1993 with four different length aircraft; -600, -700, -800 and -900. While the basic body shape remained the same as the original 737s, the new generation had a new, larger wing and more efficient engines. The new 737 NGs also allowed for a larger range allowing for transcontinental flights in the U.S. and Canada. The larger wing also permits higher cruising speeds.
So, KLM has got the last 737 NG, but who got the first? The first of the 737-NGs was rolled out on 8 December 1996, with the -700s launching first, flying for Southwest Airlines on 18 January 1998. The -600 had its first flight soon after for launch carrier Scandinavian Airlines on 25 October 1998. The -800 launched with German airline Hapag-Lloyd, part of TUI Group, on 24 April 1998.
The -800 is the most successful of the entire 737 family with over 6,000 orders. It’s also the last of the 737 NGs to be delivered. The -900 launched with Alaska Airlines on 27 May 2001 and the adapted -900ER launched in May 2007 with Indonesian airline, Lion Air.
Looking back at the history of the 737 NGs, its natural to also look forward to the future. The controversial 737 MAX was supposed to be a newly redesigned aircraft which would supplant the 737 NGs. But with ongoing issues with the MAX and now the final delivery of the 737s, the future of Boeing is more uncertain now than it’s ever been.