Originally Posted by HopCar
The 737 has never been a pretty airplane but they do seem to get the job done.
The 737-100 and 200 were not good looking airplanes at all. The fuselages were short and the engines, buried in those underwing tubes, looked ridiculous.
When I hired into Boeing the 737-300 was on the drawing boards (literally, back then). I remember seeing my first artist rendition of the -300 with it's large, turbofan engines and thinking that the plane actually looked pretty cool
Then we started stretching it, which made it look even better. Then we came out with the NextGen 737-600, -700, -800, and -900 with a longer, all-new wing design and it looked even better. Then we offered the winglets that had been developed for the BBJ and the plane really started looking pretty nice.
Finally, we got rid of the eyebrow windows over the flight deck--- a feature every 737 pilot I've ever met hated; most of them stick Kleenex boxes in them to block them off--- and the plane suddenly looked quite contemporary.
It used to be that the favorite plane of all our flight test pilots to fly was the 757. Gobs of power and a control responsiveness similar to the first generation of jet fighters, according to John Armstrong, the 757 chief pilot for many years.
Today, with the 757 a distant memory, our pilots' favorite plane to fly--- actually fly, not just program their way through the sky--- is the 737. Remember, these guys are usually flying our planes at very low gross weights so their performance is quite a bit different than the same plane in airline service with full loads of passengers, cargo, and fuel.
The 737 is, for us, a cash cow and is what pays the lion's share of the developmental costs for our new airplanes. The A320 family fills the same role for Airbus.
One of the most impressive improvements I've seen us make to any of our airplanes in the 36 years I've been here is the Sky Interior in the current versions of the 737. Unfortunately it's optional so you still see new planes being delivered with the old-style interior. But in my opinion the Sky Interior totally changes the feel of the 737 from the passenger perspective. I'm as jaded as they come with regards to airplanes and airplane interiors, but to me the Sky Interior makes the 737 seem considerably larger and more roomy inside even when it's crammed full of passengers on a local flight in China. Too bad they didn't think of this design in the 1960s when the plane first came out....