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irst taking to the skies in 1968, the 737 family of aircraft has now become Boeings most famous, growing into a nine-strong series. The single-aisle aircraft, which was first developed as a lower cost alternative to the OEMs earlier models, has received acclaim from MROs and operators for being a reliable aircraft to work with. The Next Generation 737 (737 NG), comprising the -600, -700, -800, and -900ER, has quickly become the model of the moment, and now with the 737 MAX in the development stages set for delivery from 2017 theres no doubting that the OEM is on a vigorous path of innovation.

Boeing 737 maintenance

Boeings 737 is an integral part of the aviation industry and a popular aircraft type for both MROs and operators. Hannah Davies looks at maintenance procedures and issues, future demand and the OEMs GoldCare programme.
Similarly, Aviation Technical Services (ATS) regards the 737 as one of its core competencies, having worked with the aircraft for forty years. However, Rob Tilson, VP of sales and marketing, sees the difference in age and technology as being a cost differential between the classics and NG. The difference in the two is that you see less man hour demand, says Mick Adams, managing director at Monarch Aircraft Engineering (MAEL), adding that the real challenge when working on a NG compared to a Classic is having engineers qualified on legacy fleets who can also transition to support new technology fleets. The newer fleets might have less man hours but could be no less demanding in the need for skills and qualifications, he explains. The Next Generation 737 design builds upon the successful 737 family of airplanes and then takes it a step further with design for damage tolerance and durability, says Ali. However, there are a lot of tooling transfers from the Classic model to the NG, and a lot of adaptability among the different generations. Yet, MROs appear to be in agreement that in relation to MRO work the 737 is a relatively easy platform to maintain, as Jessup puts it. In addition, the 737 NG spends two fewer days per year in a hangar than comparable airplanes, meaning an additional profit opportunity of $600,000 per year, according to Boeing. The OEM also claims that the aircrafts dispatch reliability is the highest in the industry, and cur-

The 737 family

There were 3,000 737 Classics (which comprise the -300, -400, and -500 types) operating when the 737 NG was being developed, explains Km Ali, director maintenance economics, Boeing. From the earlier models successes and failures, the OEM developed the 737 NG series. The wing of the 737 NG is completely new and is based upon the success of the 757 and 777 wings; it has an integral machined ribs and corrosion resistant materials, says Ali. As expected, MROs have had to make additional investments with the introduction of the NG. One area is avionics, notes Chris Jessup, senior vice president, airframe and engineering services at AAR. Out of all aircraft that AAR is supporting the 737 family has the lowest capital expenditure requirements on an annual basis, he says, describing the 737 as one of the easiest fleets to maintain and support and be able to forecast trends.

60 S Aircraft Technology - Issue 125 S