Boeing 737 Spotting Guide


Originally developed as a shorter, lower-cost twin-engine airliner derived from Boeing 707 and 727, Boeing has developed the 737 into a large family of passenger models with capacities from 85 to 215 passengers.

The 737, also known as the "Baby Boeing", is Boeing's only narrow-body airliner in production, and remains one of the best-selling jet commercial airliners. It currently competes primarily with the Airbus A320 family.

The four main "generations" of the 737 are as follows:

  • Original - 737-100 and 737-200
  • Classic - 737-300, 737-400 and 737-500
  • NG (Next Generation) - 737-600, 737-700, 737-800 and 737-900
  • MAX - 737-MAX7, 737-MAX8 and 737-MAX9

Originally envisioned in 1964, the initial 737-100 made its first flight in April of 1967 and entered airline service in February of 1968 at Lufthansa.

The lengthened 737-200 entered service in April of 1968. In the 1980s Boeing launched the -300, -400, and -500 models, subsequently referred to as the Boeing 737 Classic series.

In the 1990s, Boeing introduced the 737 Next Generation, with multiple changes including a redesigned, increased span laminar flow wing, upgraded "glass" cockpit, and new interior.

Production has also begun on the re-engined and redesigned 737 MAX, which is set to enter service in 2017.

Boeing has also built versions of the Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) based on the 737.

737 assembly is conducted at the Boeing Renton Factory in Renton, Washington.

Boeing 737 Spotting Tips

Spotting tips for the Boeing 737, a narrow-body jet airliner featuring a pointed nose, one engine under each wing, a triangular section on the front of the tail, and two twin-wheel main landing gears.
Boeing 737 spotting guide and tips

Engines on the 737 Classic series (300, 400, 500) and Next-Generation series (600, 700, 800, 900) do not have circular inlets like most aircraft.

The 737 Classics used CFM56 turbofan engines, which posed an engineering challenge given the low ground clearance of the 737.

The problem was solved by placing the engine ahead of the wing, and by moving engine accessories to the sides (rather than the bottom) of the engine pod. This configuration gave the 737 engine enclosure a distinctive non-circular air intake, aka the "hamster pouch".

Boeing 737 engine enclosure has a distinctive non-circular air intake, aka the "hamster pouch"

Retracted main landing gear on a Boeing 737 are not enclosed in the fuselage, but are open-air
Retracted landing gear on a Boeing 737 are not enclosed in the fuselage, but are open-air

Spotting guide for the Boeing 737-700, 737-800 and 737-900,
the Next Generation "NG" Series.

All NG series models feature blended winglets. Split Scimitar winglets are available for the 737-700, 737-800, 737-900 and 737-900ER.

Boeing 737-700 has two cabin doors, and one emergency exit over the wing, on each side of the fuselage.

Boeing 737-800 has two cabin doors, and two emergency exits over the wing, on each side of the fuselage.

Boeing 737-900 has two cabin doors, two emergency exits over the wing, and an additional exit door aft of the wing, on each side of the fuselage.

Spotting guide for the Boeing 737-700, 737-800 and 737-900, the Next Generation "NG" Series

Boeing 737 Photographs

Boeing 737-100 Prototype - N73700
Boeing 737-100 Prototype - N73700

This Boeing 737-130, the first production 737, is on display at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington. The prototype made its first flight on April 9, 1967. Boeing used this 737 as a flight test aircraft before it became NASA's Transport Systems Research Vehicle in 1974. (Staff Photo)
Boeing 737-130, the first production 737, is on display at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington

Boeing 737-200, N27SW, of Southwest Airlines

Boeing 737-330 of Lufthansa, Registration Number D-ABXS
Boeing 737-330 of Lufthansa, Registration Number D-ABXS

Boeing 737-400 of British Airways
British Airways Boeing 737-400

Boeing 737-4Q8 of Alaska Air, registration N769AS
Boeing 737-4Q8 of Alaska Air, registration N769AS


Boeing 737-700 of Aerolineas Argentinas
Boeing 737-700 of Aerolineas Argentinas

Ryan Air Boeing 737-800
Ryan Air Boeing 737-800
Boeing 737-900 of Turkish Airlines
Boeing 737-900 of Turkish Airlines

Royal Jet Boeing 737-700 BBJ - Boeing Business Jet
Royal Jet Boeing 737-700 BBJ - Boeing Business Jet, registered in the United Arab Emirates at A6-RJZ

Airliners Parked at Storage Facilities in the Desert

Commercial airliners all have limited lifespans, even the popular Boeing 737. Ultimately, they must be retired from service, stored in "airplane boneyards" or graveyards, and finally dismantled and scrapped.

Jetliners in storage at the Phoenix Goodyear Airport in the Arizona desertJetliners in storage at the Phoenix Goodyear Airport in the Arizona desert (Staff photo)

Jetliners eventually reach end-of-life due to airframe wear and/or obsolescence. Some jetliners are temporarily taken off flying status, and must be stored in a environment that is conducive to preservation, such as the great deserts of the western United States. Others are kept for spare parts for flying aircraft.

To protect airliners during their storage from wind and sun damage, engines and windows are tightly covered with white, reflective materials. A sealed airliner can thus be stored safely, for years, until the time comes to return it to active duty, or salvage. Eventually, all airliners are removed permanently from service and must be "disposed" of.

We have spotted and photographed a variety of Boeing and Airbus jet airliners at many airline boneyards in the western U.S., including:

  • Mojave Airport in California
  • Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA) in Victorville, California
  • Pinal Airpark near Tucson, Arizona
  • Phoenix Goodyear Airport in Arizona

... and view photos of commercial airliner boneyards at www.AirplaneBoneyards.com

C&T Charters Boeing 737 parked in desert storage at the Phoenix Goodyear Airport in Arizona (Staff Photo)
View similar photos at AirplaneBoneyards.com
C&T Charters Boeing 737 parked at the Phoenix Goodyear Airport in Arizona