The recent news about the 737 has drawn attention to aging aircraft concerns. We decided to get a perspective of the active 737 fleet. We were surprised to just how big a role this aircraft plays.
Over one-third of active single-aisle aircraft (at year end 2017) were 737s. The next most popular model, the A320, has a fleet size 43% smaller.
The following table shows how few of the 737s were parked. With under 5% parked, the 737 was in high demand, and met the definition of “workhorse”.
What else do we know about this fleet? Certain regions are deploying older aircraft. But in the three largest markets, the fleet was under 15 years old.
Next looking at the active fleet by delivery year we can see how the fleet is mostly from the 2000-era onwards. Over 80% of the active fleet is therefore under 20 years old and 60% of the fleet is under ten years old.
Focusing now on the passenger versions of the 737, the majority of the active fleet is the NG. Notice the NG fleet averaged under 11 years of age.
Given the fleet size and the flight hours accumulated, the performance and safety record of the 737 is remarkable. It is rare that the 737 performs an emergency landing because something on the aircraft failed. Wikipedia has this list of 737 “accidents and incidents” and it lists only 12 NG aircraft events.