In 1964 Boeing announced the development of a new short and medium-haul aircraft, named the 737 to complement the Boeing 727. The Boeing 737 is half the size of the 727 and can carry 70 to 114 passengers. It is designed to compete with the DC-9 and the BAC-1114. Lufthansa was the first customer to purchase the Boeing 737, having signed a contract for 21 aircraft in February 1965. The 737 is a twin-engine, single-aisle, short to medium-haul aircraft. It completed its first flight on April 9, 1967. Its main competitor today is the Airbus A320.
In April 2016, the Boeing 737 had accumulated 13,000 orders and more than 9,000 deliveries, making the Boeing B737 one of the best-selling aircraft in the world.
There are 12 versions of the Boeing B737, divided into 4 generations. The B737-800 belongs to the 3rd generation, known as the “Next Generation”. Commonly called the Boeing 737NG, this generation brings together the 600, 700, 800 and 900 versions. These various aircraft have sizes and capacities roughly similar to previous generations, from 110 to 210 passengers, however they are more modern.
The cabin of the B737-800 can accommodate 162 to 189 passengers, and it has been upgraded to be more comfortable. Decorated simply but in the same spirit as the other Boeing interiors, there are certain features like LED lighting, larger windows, and more spacious luggage storage.
The third generation of Boeing, available in four versions (737-600, 700, 800 and 900), was built in 1996. It is equipped with CFM56-7B engines and an all-digital upgraded cockpit. Already more than 4,000 units of this generation have been produced. The smallest version, the 737-600, was a commercial failure with only 69 units sold.
According to Airbus officials, Boeing had planned to launch a new medium-haul family in late 2007 to replace the 737-600/700/800/900 with technologies developed for the 777-200LR and the 787. The launch was eventually postponed to an undetermined future date.