Visualizing six decades of the 737

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57 years of Boeing 737 production and design

Boeing’s 737 was first built in 1967.

A bit has happened in the past 57 years, including the first landing on the moon, the split of the Soviet Union, a global pandemic, and the birth of a future data analyst with an odd affliction toward aviation.

In that same 57 years, the 737 would go from the first built prototype through four major iterations to the aircraft that will remain in production well into the 2030s (at least).

This latest chart scratched a few itches. First, we wanted to go back and take a look at the evolution of the 737, along with the ebbs and flows in its production. This aircraft exposes Boeing’s prior approach to building aircraft – a very logical approach.

Boeing ramps production to build aircraft that are in demand but retracts production when they are not. This creates the dips that arrive roughly once a decade due to economic downturns, 9/11, or most noticeably the MAX grounding and arrival of COVID-19 in 2020.

But we also wanted to do this chart in style – or at least a new style. As much as we love the proverbial line chart, we were challenged to come up with a way to show aircraft production over a long time – a very long period of time. So, we started from our favorite source of fleet data – ch-aviation – and supplemented with Boeing’s delivery data.

A little code, a little debugging, a little more code, and a lot more debugging later, and we’re happy with the outcome. This tells the story of the 737 over time – the various iterations, through the JT-8D mounted -100 and -200, to the Classics sporting the CFM56-3B, to the Next Generation and the CFM56-7B, and finally the 737 MAX with the LEAP-1A.

However, a controversy lies deep within this chart; One that has drawn lines in the sand and torn families apart (well, slightly elevated discussions at the dinner table, anyway.) That controversy: Light mode vs dark mode.

We are fans of dark mode, but our assumption that the desire for the darker arts (get it?) was preferred globally was vocally challenged. For a world once mired in the conflicts of Less Filling/Tastes Great, proper usage of the Oxford comma, and which direction the toilet paper should be mounted on the roller (it’s over the top, you monsters!), the new dispute involves light vs dark. On which side of the debate do you lean?

What we don’t do – rumors of a Flair/Lynx merger

Canadian Market Overview - Visual Approach Research

You may have heard the increasing rumors of a Flair/Lynx merger over the past month. We’ve heard them too.

While we spend most of our time in the data, what’s left is spent speaking with clients and industry leaders. Every conversation is confidential. That means you don’t get to read everything we know because much of what we know isn’t public.

We don’t do sources (plural). We only have one source: publicly available data.

This is important in understanding exactly what Visual Approach Research is – and what it is not. We’re not digging for secrets or confidential information; we’re using publicly available data to showcase trends to which the market is not paying attention. We source all data and never use (nor get used by) insider information.

But this doesn’t mean we don’t form conclusions – we just source all data used in creating them. In fact, maintaining transparency of sources allows us to draw conclusions and identify where the rumors may originate. One of those conclusions was the inevitable merger of Flair and Lynx, and it was made as part of our Canadian Market Overview in November, 2023.

“Lynx’s core strength remains in its ownership with challenged leadership, a tidy distinction from Flair. While both airlines operate the 737-8 with similar 737-8-200 orders, rationalization through consolidation appears almost inevitable, if airline consolidation were logical (which it is not).”
“If further consolidation of the space is inevitable (which we believe it is), there remains no better fit than Flair and Lynx.”

Visual approach research – canadian market overview, november 28, 2023

The distinction defines Visual Approach Research. We don’t speak “on the record” because there is no record. While we appreciate the rumors and suggestions, please don’t be offended when we don’t do anything with it. That’s what we don’t do.

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