Boeing 737

Background

The creation of a short to medium haul airliner was conceived by Boeing in 1964, when the aircraft was seen as a competitor for the DC-9 and Bac1-11. Following design work by two competing teams, construction commenced in early 1965. The aircraft utilises the same fuselage cross-section as the earlier 707 and 727, and shares a number of components with the 727. The incorporation of a suitable APU and airstairs meant the aircraft could use airports with limited facilities. The prototype (N73700) first flew on April 9, 1967. The first production 737-100 (N2282C) followed on May 13. The series 200 was under development at the same time, and the first 737-200 flew on August 8, 1967. This rapidly became the standard model. The 737 launch customers were Lufthansa and United Airlines. Deliveries started in December 1967, and commercial services commenced on February 10, 1968.

Revision of the aircraft has been ongoing. The early models soon incorporated a freight door and modified thrust reversers. The 737-200 Advanced was introduced in 1971, along with a quick change (QC) variant. The USAF adopted the 737 as a navigation trainer under the designation T-43, with the T-43A entering service in 1974. The 737-300 which incorporated a lengthened fuselage and quieter engines was announced in March 1981, and flew in February 1983. Deliveries commenced in 1984. The 737-400 which has a further stretch was announced in June 1986 and flown in February 1988, and the 737-500 a year later. The -500 is the same size as the -200, but quieter and more fuel efficient.

The 1990's have seen Boeing introduce the 'next generation' 737. Approved by Boeing in 1993. the aircraft has a modified wing (both in chord and span), modified control surfaces, a range of engines with digital controls, a 'glass' cockpit, and incorporates a variety of composites in the construction. The aircraft comes in -600, -700, -800, and -900 versions, primarily differentiated by fuselage length. The 737-700 was first flown on February 9, 1997 and entered service in January 1998. The 737-800 followed on July 31, 1997. The 737-600 was flown on January 22, 1998. The final 'classic' 737 was completed in 1999.

In New Zealand the 737 has been used on domestic, trans-Tasman, and some Pacific island routes, with more than 40 aircraft having appeared on the civil register since 1968. (more details below). Four operators have used New Zealand registered 737 aircraft.

The first operator was the National Airways Corporation. The decision to acquire the 737 was taken in 1966 after much political debate over the choice against the Bac1-11. A contract for 3 -200 aircraft was signed on July 19, 1967, and NAC became customer '19'. NAC crews trained at Boeing, and got route experience with United Airlines. The first aircraft was delivered on September 18th, 1968 and enroute the aircraft set a 737 distance record on the Honolulu-Nadi leg. With 7 aircraft acquired, the 737 replaced the Vickers Viscount in service on June 3, 1975, with two more aircraft being subsequently acquired. In December 1977 the New Zealand Government took the decision to merge NAC and Air New Zealand, and the merger went ahead on April 1, 1978. Air New Zealand ordered 6 more -219 aircraft in 1984, and as these arrived, the older aircraft were sold to International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC). The older aircraft were progressively hush-kitted in the mid-1990's to comply with Wellington local regulations. In December 1989 another order was announced for 6 aircraft (plus 6 options) for delivery in 1993. This was subsequently deferred to 1996, and then deferred again. Deliveries of -300 aircraft began in 1999.

The second operator was Ansett New Zealand, which commenced its operation in 1987 with three early model 737-130 aircraft (in fact the second, fourth, and fifth production aircraft) ZK-NEA/NEB/NEC and some Dash-8 aircraft. These were supplemented in 1988 by a further -112 and two -200 aircraft (a -2A6 and a -2U9) ZK-NED/NEE/NEF. The proposal to replace the aircraft with -500 models was dropped when the airlines share-holding was rearranged after the withdrawal of shareholders Brierly Investments and Newmans. The aircraft were then replaced by Bae146 aircraft which entered service in July 1989. ZK-NEB/NEC/NEE were withdrawn in December 1989, and ZK-NED/NEA/NEF in the succeeding months.

The third operator is Freedom Air. Initially set up as a low cost charter operation, Freedom Air is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mt Cook Airlines (itself a subsidiary of Air New Zealand). The new airline was announced in November 1995, and began charter operation in December before it gained its Air Services license in August 1996. Initially operating with a 757-204ER leased from Britannia Airways, this was replaced by a 737-3S1ER leased from TACA International in April 1996. In 1997 a 737-38M leased for five years from South Pacific Air Charters was introduced. This aircraft went on the New Zealand register as ZK-FDM. A second aircraft, a 737-3U3, was delivered in November 1999, and began services in December as ZK-FRE.

The latest 737 operator is Royal Tongan Airlines, which took delivery of former Air New Zealand 737-2Y5 ZK-NAF on November 11, 1999 and went into service on November 12.

A number of other leased, but not NZ registered aircraft have also operated here. Initially Freedom Air competed with Kiwi International Airlines, which collapsed in September 1997. The latter organisation started as a charter operator using leased Air Nauru 737-400s, before using a 757 and an Airbus 340. Later a 737-3Y0 (TF-ABK) was leased from the UK. Air New Zealand have used a number as maintenance replacements including G-BAZI, G-BHWF, G-BADP, C2-RN10, C2-RN11, 5W-ILF and DQ-FJB. New charter operator K2000 is operating a 737-400 (reg? ) leased for four months from Pegasus Airlines on trans-Tasman routes during the southern summer.

Details of current, and formerly New Zealand registered 737 aircraft can be seen below. (Note: in the following listing some registrations have been reused. The serial is therefore important for identifying particular aircraft).

Currently registered aircraft (as of December 1, 1999) include:

Previously registered aircraft (as of November 1, 1999) include:



Last Update:- 13 December, 1999


Technical Data

Data is for 737-200



Images

Qantas - Auckland 18 Nov, 1996 Air New Zealand - Auckland 4 Jan, 1997 Air New Zealand - Auckland 4 Jan, 1997 Air New Zealand - Auckland 4 Jan, 1997

Aviation Homepage © 1997-99 Phillip Treweek, all rights reserved

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